Jerusalem (Oct. 21)
Menachem Milson, a professor of modern Arab literature at the Hebrew University, was named by Defense Minister Ariel Sharon today to head the new civilian administration in the occupied territories, effective Nov. 1.
The appointment was the first in Sharon’s reorganization plan that will place administrative functions in the territories in civilian hands leaving the Israeli military responsible only for security matters.
Milson, currently on sabbatical leave, has been critical of past policies in the territories which, he contends, have encouraged the radical and pro-Palestine Liberation Organization elements at the expense of the conservative, pro-Jordanian elements. He believes Israel could easily reach an accommodation with the latter.
Milson served previously as Arab affairs advisor to the Military Governor on the West Bank and to the coordinator of activities there who was also a military officer appointed by the Defense Ministry. When the late President Anwar Sadat visited Jerusalem in November, 1977, Milson was assigned to him as military adjutant.
During his term as Arab affairs advisor he encouraged the formation of village-level leagues to counter the influence of the generally pro-PLO mayors of the larger Arab towns. This is a major facet of Sharon’s reorganization plan which hopes to include as many Palestinians as possible in local administrations and to create thereby an infrastructure for implementation of the autonomy plan.
COOL REACTION TO APPOINTMENT
But the initial reaction to Milson’s appointment was cool even among moderate Palestinian leaders on the West Bank. Mayor Elias Freij of Bethlehem said he was unclear about the proposed separation of military and civilian functions under Sharon’s plan and he had doubts that it is clear even to those who proposed the plan.
Mayor Mustapha Natshe of Hebron said the new policy was only a cosmetic change aimed at tightening Israel’s grip on the occupied territories. He said there was no chance of local cooperation because that would mean abandonment of hope for a Palestinian entity. Another moderate, attorney Aziz Shehade of Ramallah, said Milson faced a difficult task and doubted that he would be of much benefit.
Mahmoud Abu-Zuluf, editor of the East Jerusalem Arabic newspaper Al-Kuds, said there was no chance of success for a policy that attempted to divide villagers from townspeople or moderates from those who are suppressed because of their independent views.