JERUSALEM (Feb. 20)
Continuing tension over plans to resettle Jews in Hebron overshadowed the visit here of Donald McHenry, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Meeting with Defense Minister Ezer Weizman and senior officials at the Foreign Ministry, McHenry reiterated the U.S. government’s firm opposition to such a move.
“The U.S. will not be able to go along with such policy,” McHenry said. He hinted that the U.S. would not act to prevent a condemnation of Israel when the Hebron issue is discussed at the Security Council over the weekend. Both Weizman and the Foreign Ministry officials stressed that the Cabinet had adopted a decision “in principle” that Jews have a right to live anywhere in “Eretz Israel” but has not decided when or how to implement that decision.
(At the United Nations in New York, the Security Council is scheduled to meet Friday to open a debate on the Hebron situation requested by Jordan and Morocco. Israel will participate in the debate, a spokesman for the Israeli UN Mission told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today.)
The Hebron issue was raised during McHenry’s two-hour luncheon meeting with three West Bank political leaders yesterday — Mayor Elias Freij of Bethlehem, Hikmat el-Masri of Nablus, the former Speaker of the Jordanian Parliament and Anwar Nusseibeh, former Jordanian Defense Minister. The three leaders rejected the autonomy plan, condemned plans to settle Jews in Hebron and told McHenry that the Palestine Liberation Organization was the only representative of the Arabs in the occupied territories. “The Israelis have five houses in Hebron but we have more than a million homes that were taken from us, “the American envoy was told.
ARAB APPEAL REJECTED
In a related development, the Supreme Court yesterday rejected an appeal by Arab landowners against plans to expand the Orthodox Jewish township of Kiryat Arab, adjoining Hebron, on land they claimed belongs to them. The court ruled that the appellants had failed to prove ownership of the land which is registered in the name of the State. The land was seized by military order in 1970. The Arabs can, however, appeal before a military appeals board to determine its legitimate ownership.
Meanwhile, West Bank leaders called today for a massive weekend prayer gathering at the Patriarchs Tomb in Hebron to protest Jewish settlement plans. The Supreme Moslem Council in East Jerusalem issued the call after a planned political gathering at the Al Aksa Mosque was called off. Israeli authorities had announced that they would bar entry to Jerusalem by West Bank political figures for the rally.
Several stone-throwing incidents were reported in West Bank towns today. One high school student in a Jerusalem suburb was detained.