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Municipal Elections on the West Bank Postponed Indefinitely

Municipal elections on the West Bank have been postponed indefinitely by the Military Government on grounds that at this stage they “would cause damage to the peace process.” The authorities apparently fear an upsurge of nationalist and pro-Palestine Liberation Organization sentiment of the kind that followed the last municipal elections in 1976.

Most of the mayors elected that year were pro-PLO or supporters of other extreme rejectionist groups. Israeli authorities observe that the territories have been quiet of late and they do not want an election campaign at this time to stir nationalist passions. They attribute the relative calm to a weakening of the militant leadership on the West Bank since the deportations of the mayors of Hebron and Halhoul and the bomb attacks which crippled the mayors of Nablus and Romallah.

The Military Government does not intend to permit the National Guidance Committee to resume its activities and in fact banned its latest meeting which was to have been held last week. The committee was the leading body among West Bank Arabs, including most anti-Jordan elements. While its leaders consulted closely with the PLO, they did not always follow PLO orders and the committee acquired a relatively independent status. It too has been weakened by recent events.

A senior security source claimed that a “silent majority” of the West Bank population does not share the extreme views of the local leadership and does not consider the PLO their legitimate representative. According to the source, a number of influential West Bankers were in favor of renewed contacts with Jordan. If Jordanian agencies were allowed to renew their activities in the territories, the “Jordanian option” would have a much better chance, the source said.

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