JERUSALEM (Feb. 18)
The civil administration in the West Bank is in the process of replacing mayors of Arab villages installed by the Israeli authorities some years ago with local leaders who have more popular support. The latest instance, representing a small step toward greater self-rule, was the appointment Monday of Ibrahim Abu-Hammad as Mayor of Yatta, a town near Hebron. A member of one of the largest clans in Yatta, Abu-Hammad replaces the mayor of a neighboring village whom the previous administration placed in Yatta after dismissing the elected town council nine years ago.
Col. Ephraim Sneh, head of the civil administration, acted in response to a petition from the leading clans in Yatta and provided the new mayor with an initial grant of $50,000. The petition was initiated following the success of similar action in Nablus which now has a new mayor, Zafer Al-Masri, by popular demand.
Other Arab towns and villages in the territory are pressing for new mayors to replace Israeli appointees. They have been encouraged to act by the Israel government’s avowed intention to improve the “quality of life” of the inhabitants of the administered territories.
Sneh said Monday that two groups from EI Bireh, an Arab town north of Jerusalem, have presented candidates for mayor and there are signs of a grass roots movement developing in Ramallah.