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Arabs React Bitterly to Lifting the Ban on Land Purchases

Arab leaders in the administered territories reacted bitterly today to the Cabinet decision yesterday to lift the bon on the purchase of private lands by Jewish citizens in the territories.

Bethlehem Mayor Elias Freij, considered a moderate, said the decision was “a death warrant for the so-called autonomy.” There will be “very deep repercussions,” he predicted, “throughout the Arab world and especially among the Palestinians, who will stiffen their resistance to the autonomy plan and the Camp David accords.”

The mayor said it was “blatant discrimination” to allow Israelis to purchase West Bank land. “Will Menachem Begin permit West Bankers to buy land in Israel?” he asked. “I feel deeply disturbed by this decision, but it justifies our suspicion that the autonomy talks are simply a hoax.”

There was a general agreement in the territories that landowners would refuse to deal with Israelis. There is a general consensus that any Arab selling land to Jews was risking his life.

Arab leaders in the territories sent cables of protest against the decision to world leaders, including President Carter and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Several municipalities published statements condemning the Cabinet decision. Egypt today also condemned the decision and charged that this was “but another obstacle” to peace.

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