JERUSALEM (Jan. 31)
Premier Shimon Peres received an enthusiastic welcome in the Bedouin township of Rahat in the Negev, his first visit to an Arab community since he took office last year.
Hundreds of flag-waving youngsters greeted him with songs and beating drums when he arrived at the local school. He told the cheering students, “Before we make peace in the entire region, we must make peace inside the State of Israel, between the young and old, between Jews and Arabs.”
Peres was accompanied by Ezer Weizman, a Minister-Without-Portfolio assigned to the Prime Ministers Office where he deals with matters of concern to Israel’s Arab population. There are about 50,000 Bedouins in the Negev. Nomadic by tradition, many have been resettled in townships in recent years because of the need to allocate land for the new Air Force base near Beersheba.