Three Major West Bank Towns Get Arab Mayors

Three major West Bank cities have local Arab mayors after a long period of being run by Israeli military officers, it was announced Sunday.

Hebron, the second largest city in the territory, Ramallah and El Bireh were listed in the official announcement by the civil administration of Judaea and Samaria. The three nominees, who take over their duties at once, are seen as moderate, pro-Jordanian figures. They are Dr. Abdel Majid E-Zir in Hebron; Halil Mussa Halil in Ramallah; and Hassan A-Tawil in El Bireh.

E-Zir has served until now as head of medical services in Hebron, under the civil administration. He has not been active politically.

A-Tawil is the Mukhtar (headman) of the prominent Tawil family in El Bireh and a distant relative of Ibrahim Tawil, a former mayor who was ousted by the authorities. Ibrahim Tawil was a near-fatal victim of the Jewish terrorist underground in 1980. The attack cost him two legs and left a border police sapper blinded.

Halil, unlike the other two, has previous political experience. He was mayor of Ramallah in 1968-72. In elections that year he was defeated by a pro-PLO candidate, Karim Khallaf.

Informed sources said Sunday that the three appointments had been made with the tacit approval of the Jordanian government. They are seen therefore as dovetailing into Jordan’s ongoing efforts to strengthen its political position in the West Bank.

The last Israeli attempt to restore a Palestinian mayor to a major West Bank city ended in disaster last March 2 when Zafer Al-Masri, installed the previous month as Mayor of Nablus, was assassinated by terrorists.

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