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U.S. Welcomes Appointment by Israel of Arab Mayors in West Bank Cities

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The State Department welcomed Monday the appointment by Israel of Arab mayors in three major West Bank cities. “We welcome the restoration of Arab authority to West Bank municipalities,” State Department deputy spokesman Charles Redman said. “We are hopeful that means can be found to restore Arab control in other towns in the occupied territories.”

Israel announced Sunday that Dr. Abdel Majid E-Zir, a physician, was appointed mayor of Hebron; Halil Mussa Halil, a restaurant owner, was named mayor of Ramallah; and Hassan A-Tawil, a businessman, mayor of E1 Bireh.

Redman said the general position of the United States is that “we support increased control over their own affairs by the Arab inhabitants throughout the occupied territories through developments which have the support of the local population.”

Secretary of State George Shultz has long urged the need for the improvement of the quality of life of Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza. Shimon Peres during his two years as Israeli Premier has sought to provide this through allowing the Palestinians to take more responsibility for control of their daily lives.

Peres has aimed at developing a moderate leadership that would lessen the influence of the Palestine Liberation Organization and be willing to join with Jordan in negotiations with Israel. The three newly-appointed mayors have close ties with King Hussein.

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