The Ministry of Defense has agreed to a proposal by the Military Government of the West Bank that moderate leaders of the League of Arab villagers should be allowed to carry arms or arm their bodyguards, for personal defense. But Arab leaders, including Bethlehem Mayor Elias Freij, generally regarded as a moderate, has opposed the idea, fearing that it may lead to further bloodshed between armed groups.
Members of the Village League, a moderate informal grouping supported by the Military Government as a counterweight and viable option to Palestine Liberation Organization leadership, asked to be allowed to carry weapons in self-defense following the assassination of one of their members, Yussuf Al-Khatib, and his son Khazem, by extremists Nov. 17.
Freij said, however, that the arming of “local militias” by the Military Government would only exacerbate the situation and lead toward clashes within the Arab community. Village League head Mustapha Doudin said, however, that the League welcomed the move and promised to hand back the arms to the Military Government as soon as political murders among the Arabs stopped.
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