Dayan Presses for More Meetings with West Bank, Gaza Strip Arabs

Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan has requested that the Israel Defense Force assist him in setting up additional meetings with Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza Strip in an attempt to gain an overview of their approach to the autonomy plan.

In a televised interview last night, Dayan said that it is of the utmost importance to conduct discussions with Palestine Liberation Organization supporters, so long as they are not involved in illegal activities and are not official representatives of the PLO. He has thus asked officials in the Military Government to aid him in organizing further talks.

On his meeting Monday with Dr. Ahmed Hamaz Natcha, the Foreign Minister said that he had not known Natcha was a member of the Palestine National Council (PNC), and stressed that the meeting had the required approval of the Military Government. The meeting was initiated by Gen. Danny Matt, coordinator of activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Informed military sources, meanwhile, noted that the IDF would arrange further meetings between Dayan and prominent West Bankers.

DENY POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS OF MEETINGS

While no full account of the Monday meeting between Dayan and Natcha is available, Natcha has been quoted as telling Dayan that he totally rejected the autonomy proposal and instead supported an independent Palestinian state along side pre-1967 Israel.

Military sources, meanwhile, attempted last night to dispel the “illusion” that Dayan’s choice of Natcha as a partner for Monday’s talk has any political implications. They noted that the West Bank physician has played little part in the PNC, often described as the PLO parliament in exile. Dayan’s aide, Naftali lovie, explained that “we never said that we wouldn’t speak to PLO sympathizers in our midst unless they were involved in terrorist activity.”

West Bank reaction to the meeting was fairly muted, and Arab political sources in the area find it hard to explain why Dayan chose to speak with Natcha 10 days after his controversial meeting with PLO supporter Dr. Haider Abdul-Shafi. The Mayor of Hebron observed that Dayan’s motive in speaking with Natcha was either one of propaganda or a step in the direction of including the PLO in the negotiations. Either way, said the Mayor, “the leader of the PLO is in Beirut.

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