JERUSALEM (Feb. 28)
Premier Menachem Begin’s advisor on Arab affairs accused “extremist elements” among Israel’s Arab population of using a controversy over Arab lands in Galilee to foment discord.
The advisor, Binyamin Gur-Arye, spoke yesterday in response to a protest demonstration in the Arab town of Shfaram Saturday. The Arab asked the Interior Ministry to rescind the transfer of some 40,000 acres of Arab-owned land to the jurisdiction of Misgav, a new regional council. In an Army Radio interview, Gur-Arye claimed that the measure was taken for planning purposes and did not involve a change of ownership. “There is no intention to confiscate any land,” he said.
He promised the Arab villages in Galilee sufficient land to develop for the next 25 years and suggested that those who felt they were wronged should take their case to the appeals committee of the Interior Ministry.
“We know that there are certain political elements who annually commemorate the Arab ‘Land Day’ on March 30 and they seek a pretext to heat up the atmosphere by artificial means,” Gur-Ayre charged. “They are trying to organize a day of protests against the State rather than any specific issue,” he said. He also referred to the strong Communist representation at the rally in Shfaram.