Deportation of Two West Bankers Creates New Problems for Government
The summary deportation of two prominent, West Bankers to Lebanon Saturday has not only created new political troubles for Premier Yitzhak Rabin’s government but appeared likely today to re-escalate disturbances on the West Bank where the deportees have become the focus of further Arab displeasure with the Israeli administration.
The ouster of Dr. Ahmed-Hamzi Natshi, a Hebron surgeon and Dr. Abdul-Azziz Haj-Ahmed, a dentist from El Bireh as alleged trouble-makers may also cause a backlash against the moderate candidates Israel hopes to see elected in the West Bank municipal elections April 12.
The registration of candidates which began today has been noticeably slow. In Hebron, the candidacy of Mayor Mohammed Ali el-Jabaari, an influential moderate supported by the Israeli authorities, appears to have been seriously compromised. The veteran mayor indicated today that he may not stand for re-election.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Shimon Peres’ explanation of the deportations at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting was greeted with skepticism by many of his Cabinet colleagues and by a large section of the Israeli press. Peres reportedly said that dossiers detailing the hostile activities of the two deportees had been compiled over a long period. They were accused of fomenting some of the recent disturbances on the West Bank and of association with the PLO and the Communists.
But critics of the deportation demanded to know why it was carried out just 15 minutes before the Supreme Court was to have held a hearing that could have resulted in a staying of Attorney General Aharon Barak’s deportation order and whether Natshi and Ahmed were deliberately removed from the West Bank to prevent them from filing their candidacy for the mayoral offices in their respective towns.
GOVERNMENT’S REPLY TO CRITICS
The government’s reply to the critics was that the Supreme Court need not have delayed its hearing until 4 p.m. Saturday. The two men were already in Lebanon by the time the court assembled. It was also contended that neither Rabin nor Justice Minister Haim Zadok were aware Saturday that the deportations were imminent.
But both of them participated in a special ministerial committee meeting Friday, along with Peres and Foreign Minister Yigal Allon, at which it was decided to put the deportation machinery into motion against Natshi and Ahmed. The two men were arrested earlier and appeared before a military-judicial committee consisting of a court martial judge and two officers which implemented the deportation proceedings.
Rabin told the Cabinet yesterday that the legal aspects of the deportation were under the “exclusive” jurisdiction of Attorney General Barak whose instructions were followed by the Military Government on the West Bank. Barak thus bore the brunt of the criticism though he was backed up today by Justice Minister Zadok.
A Jerusalem Post editorial warned today that the deportations may have seriously compromised the position of the traditional and more moderate West Bank leadership which now has to prove itself as least as nationalistic as the opposition. It also accused the authorities of flouting “the principles of due process of law.” The deportations were also condemned by Davar, which called the act “an astonishing and grave error of judgement,” and by Haaretz and Al Hamishmar.