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Israel May Ease Some of Its Tough Measures in the West Bank

Shlomo Ilya, head of the civil administration on the West Bank, hinted today that Israel will ease some of the tough measures it has taken in that territory during the past two years.

He told a press conference here that there is a “good chance” that Palestinian Arabs will take over the administration of Arab municipalities in the territory and indicated that Israel will be less supportive in the future of the Village Leagues it set up on the West Bank.

One of the primary aims in the coming year is to renew relations with West Bank municipalities which boycott the civil administration and to increase the financial support and services Israel supplies to those municipalities, Ilya said.

Most Arab mayors and local council members were summarily removed by Israel from the offices to which they were elected in 1976, the last time municipal elections were held in the occupied territories. That process, which began shortly after the Likud-led government was returned to power in the 1981 elections, had as its rationale the removal of Arab officials allegedly supportive of the Palestine Liberation Organization. They were replaced, in many cases by Israel army officers.

Ilya said nothing about holding elections on the West Bank. But he told reporters that Arab candidates have been considered for municipal posts in such large towns as Hebron and Ramallah. They have not yet come forward to assume them, he said, explaining that the potential candidates were exploring possible reactions and waiting to see what other candidates might do, Ilya also said he was seeking more intensive police enforcement in the territories.

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