Weitz Calls for Self-determination for West Bank, Gaza Palestinians

A call for self-determination for the Palestinian people on the West Bank and Gaza Strip was made here today by Prof. Roonan Weitz, Israel’s leading authority on agricultural settlement. This is part of a new peace plan which Weitz will shortly present to the opposition Israel Labor Party of which he is a member.

It is based on a comprehensive development scheme recently completed by an inter-disciplinary team at the Weizmann Institute of Science settlement department which Weitz heads. Israel’s borders would conform to those envisaged in the Allon plan including a belt of Jewish settlements in the Jordan Volley and a road link between Hebron and the Gaza Strip.

Other features of the settlement plan would be to settle up to 200,000 Palestinian refugees from Lebanon on the West Bank with Israeli help and for Israel to purchase surplus river water from Lebanon.

Weitz outlined his views at the annual conference of British Poale Zion. He said that settlements in the Jordan Volley which would be increased from the present 20 to a total of 35 would ensure that the West Bank could not become a springboard for a major military assault on Israel’s coastal strip.

DOES NOR RULE OUT ROLE FOR PLO

In a strong attack on the Gush Emunim he said it was not creating settlements in the classical Labor Zionist way but colonies which lacked to social or economic bates and which were destined to become “mere episodes.” The dense population of the West Bank made it impossible for Jews to settle there without putting pressure on the Arab inhabitants, Weitz said.

Under his plan, the Palestinian Arabs would be permitted to choose in five years between local self-determination and unification with Jordan. Weitz refused to rule out the Palestine Liberation Organization as a partner in such a settlement, saying “The Palestine problem will not be solved except by a compromise which will be just only if it is painful to both sides.”

It would be for a future Labor government to present this plan to the Arabs, Weitz said. He said he was “more than hopeful” that it would be accepted in the territories.

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