JERUSALEM (Sep. 20)
Defense Minister Ezer Weizman and Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan have instructed the relevant officials to renew their contacts with West Bank personalities chosen by the military government to run the administrative council responsible for implementing their autonomy.
These contacts were broken off in the past because the West Bank leaders had insisted on three conditions to which the military government could not agree. These were the prohibition of all settlement activity on the West Bank, ensuring the right to self-determination of the Palestinian nation within the framework of autonomy, and the establishment of international sovereignty for the areas during the transitional period.
Now, because the Camp David accords have produced a significant change in Israel’s original autonomy plan, Israeli officials are hoping that the contacts can be renewed.
MEETINGS TAKE PLACE
In this light, Benyamin Ben-Eliezer, general commander of the region of Judaea and Samaria, met yesterday with Bethlehem Mayor Elias Freij and with East Jerusalemite Anwar Hatib, the former governor of the Jerusalem region under Jordan’s rule. Hatib is considered a close friend of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and it is assumed the Egyptian leader would support his participation in the self-government. Dayan, meanwhile, met with Hichmat el-Matzri, also a close friend of Sadat, before his departure for the U.S.
These West Bank personalities constitute the region’s traditional leadership, and the meetings planned between Israeli leaders and West Bank personalities do not as yet include the elected municipal leadership in the areas, who for the most part back the Palestine Liberation Organization.
It is assumed the West Bankers will attempt to unite on one position on the Camp David accords. There have not yet been any efforts to renew contacts with Arab leaders residing in the Gaza Strip, apparently because the Gaza Mayor is presently on a tour of the Gulf States. It is assumed that with his return, efforts will be stepped up. It appears that personalities in the Strip divide into three camps: PLO supporters, Jordan loyalists and Sadat loyalists.
Meanwhile, it is reported that one of Sadat’s most fervent supporters in the Gaza Strip, Himan Hasham el Huzendar, is due to travel to Egypt to meet with Sadat next week, and he will probably take with him a number of local leaders for talks with the Egyptian leader.
It is assumed, by observers here, that West Bankers and residents of the Gaza Strip will attempt to come together on one unified position on the Camp David accords concerning the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Yesterday, political activists in both regions launched behind-the-scenes consultations on this issue, the first time that leaders in the two territories have done so. In the past, they avoided such discussions claiming that any political debate should be referred to the PLO. The consultations have so far been individual meetings, where legal experts interpreted the West Bank and Gaza formulas as formulated in the Camp David accords.