Three West Bank Arab leaders opened an intensive campaign today for American endorsement of their effort to reverse their deportations a month ago from the West Bank to Lebanon by Israeli authorities. They warned that United States support for Israel “is something wrong” and “must be corrected.”
“We Palestinians know how to do it,” and “we Arabs know how to do it,” Muhammed Milhim, Mayor of Halhoul, told a news conference that opened the campaign in which he, Mayor Fahed Kawasme and Sheikh Rajab Buyud Tamimi, religious leader of Hebron, attacked the United States, Israeli authorities, Zionism, the American media and Jewish settlers in the occupied areas as enemies of the Arab people.
The three men were deported to Lebanon following the ambush and murder of six Jewish religious students and the wounding of 16 in Hebron on May 2. Israeli authorities accused the three with inciting the Arab populace to violence. The expulsion order is now before the Israeli Supreme Court for approval or disapproval.
The United Nations Security Council, by a vote of 14-0, asked Israel two weeks ago to allow the three West Bank leaders to return. The United States abstained in the vote because the resolution was considered not balanced. But the United States favors their return.
At the news conference at a hotel, Milhim demonstrated for TV cameras a khaki bag which he said was put over his head by Israeli soldiers when he was being deported to Lebanon. He challenged the American media to give Arabs the attention they give to Zionists and Israelis. He declared that American TV gave “six hours” on one occasion to Premier Menachem Begin who, he said, “is the biggest terrorist in the history of mankind.”
MAYORS PORTRAYED AS MODERATES
The Palestine Human Rights Committee and the Palestine Congress of North America, which are participating in sponsoring their visit, distributed Israeli and American newspaper articles that portrayed Milhim and Kawasme as reasonable and moderate. After he charged that Zionism’s aim was to drive the Arabs from their homes and land, Milhim was asked whether the killings in Hebron represented on attempt to drive Jews from the area. “Those Jews were not worshippers,” Milhim replied. “They were harassing people. It is a human right that they (the Jews) are driven out. We will spare no effort to see that they are driven out.”
Asked then, whether the killing of Jews in Hebron is a human right, Milhim referred to one of the six killed as having been “a killer in Vietnam” who came “to the Middle East to kill.” He added that “the killers will have to be killed some day.”
Tamimi, who spoke in Arabic, said that the Camp David accords are a “Zionist conspiracy” and a movement for “Judaization” of Islamic sites. Kawasme alleged that Israeli authorities are trying “to kill the mayors, trying to kill our population. They want the land empty — without Arabs.”
The Palestine Congress distributed a press statement alleging “a break-in” at its offices in the early morning hours today in the Highland Hotel where the press conference was held. Jawad F. George, the organization’s coordinator, said the alleged break-in might have been an attempt to obtain the mayors’ itineraries. He said that in the light of the June 2 bombings against West Bank mayors, security for the two visiting mayors “has become on urgent priority.”
George was unable to tell reporters what, if anything, had been taken from the offices. Washington police, who investigated, later said they found no evidence of crime.
The three Arabs will address a rally for them at Temple Sinai in Washington. Milton, Viorst, a political writer, is to chair the session. Milhim had said during the news conference that he wanted to address the American Jewish community.
James Zogby, the PHRC head, announced that the visitors also will speak Friday night at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington under the “honorary chairmanship” of Ramsey Clark who is now in Iran, and with David Dellinger, known for his anti-Vietnam efforts, and journalist I.F. Stone as co-sponsors.
The House Foreign Affairs subcommittee for the Middle East, of which Rep. Lee Hamilton (D. Ind.) is chairman, will hold a coffee meeting tomorrow morning at the Capital.
Asked if the mayors would meet President Carter’s special representative to the Middle East peace talks, Sol Linowitz, Milhim emphatically replied, “No, we do not intend to. He represents autonomy and we do not want autonomy.”
MEET STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS
Later, at the State Department, spokesman Hodding Carter said the mayors “will have an opportunity to express their feelings” at a meeting at the State Department tomorrow with Harold Sounders, assistant Secretary of State for Middle East affairs, and Robert Hunter, the National Security Council’s Middle East specialist.
Spokesmen Carter said that the meeting was managed at the Arabs request, prior to the car bombings on the West Bank. Carter was asked whether the West Bank mayors were PLO members. “I don’t know the answer, ” Carter said. He noted that “they are purported to be mayors of Arab towns. We have had conversations with them in the past and we want to meet with them in the future.” When Carter was asked that, since Milhim had rejected the idea of meeting Linowitz for being in favor of autonomy, did he consider Sounders and Hunter as being opponents of autonomy. Carter replied that “the U.S. officials have a wider mandate” than Linowitz.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.