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Israel’s Autonomy Plan Wins Unexpected Support from Eban

The government’s autonomy plan has won unexpected support from former Foreign Minister Abba Eban, a leader of the opposition Labor Party. He told a lecture audience here Tuesday that the plan should be regarded as a step toward territorial compromise as advocated by Labor and urged his party not to deride it but to press for its full implementation.

According to Eban, the problem was not the autonomy plan but the government’s policies which contradicted it. While offering full autonomy, the government is intruding itself more and more into the lives of the Arab inhabitants of the occupied territories by such acts as arrests, entering schools and forcing striking shops to open, Eban said.

“Why should I be interested if they open their schools or shops?” the former Foreign Minister asked “If they don’t open their schools they will have fewer scholars. If they don’t open their shops they will have fewer men of wealth. Why should I be interested in what they say in Bir Zeit (the West Bank university town) as long as it is not incitement to violence?”

Instead of diminishing the Israeli presence open the Arab population, the government has exercised growing paternalism, he said. On other issues; Eban observed that Israel never before has been so isolated. Whereas in the past its conflicts were with governments today it is also with public opinion he said He also stressed the need to divert efforts among U.S. Jewry from raising funds to increasing the number of immigrants.

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