New proposals which would give Arabs and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, public services on a level equal with residents of Israel have been denounced by Israeli opposition leaders and local West Bank officials.
New proposals which would give Arabs and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, public services on a level equal with residents of Israel have been denounced by Israeli opposition leaders and local West Bank officials. The proposals, which came as a surprise, were announced on Sunday (14 August) by the Prime Minister, Mr. Begin, following a Cabinet meeting. Mr. Begin said the Government intended to grant inhabitants of the territories equal rights, the same as those enjoyed by the residents of the State of Israel.
Reaction from the Soviet Union was also hostile. The official news agency said the Israeli decision can only be regarded as another step along the road to the annexation of the Israeli-occupied Arab territories, which it said the Israelis have no right. A spokesman from the Arab League said they would protest to the United Nations and Palestinian guerrilla groups said they would step up commando attacks in Israel.
The United States meanwhile has remained non-committal. A State Department spokesman said the legal implications of the Israeli decision had not been analyzed and could not yet comment.
SYNOPSIS: A debate on the Middle East situation in the Knesset was used by the opposition Labour Party to launch a bitter attack on the Begin proposals. Afterwards former Labour Party Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon explained his party's opposition to the plan.
In the occupied West Bank news of the decision was cooly received. Most hostile opinion came from the Arab municipal leaders. The Mayors of Hebron and Ramallah denounced the decision as a form of annexation.
Speaking to reporters on Monday (15 August) Mr. begin strongly denied any political motives in his decision.