(ISRAEL and the MIDDLE EAST to 1979 – continued)
In 1976, Israeli settlers (called colonists by Palestinians) in the West Bank (called Judea and Samaria by religious Jews) numbered 3,176. With the coming to power of the Likud Party and Menachem Begin in 1977, this number would increase to 20,600 by 1982. Settlement in the Gaza Strip was increasing also. Following the agreement between Sadat and Begin at Camp David in December, 1977, the Gaza Strip was no longer considered as part of Egypt. Begin had wanted Egypt to take responsibility for Gaza, but Sadat did not want it. And Begin was not about to turn the strip over to the Arabs who lived there.
In Gaza, the Israelis allowed the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups to organize – groups favored by the Israelis because they were hostile to the PLO. The PLO was secular and for national self-determination, and the Brotherhood was for an Islamic authority. The Israelis allowed the Brotherhood to receive funds from Saudi Arabia and Jordan, funding denied some other social and charitable groups.
With the expansion of settlements and an appearance of Israeli determination to remain in the territories indefinitely, Palestinian mayors, city councilmen and various civic, professional and labor organizations, on October 1, 1978, signed a declaration defying Israeli authority and affirming the unity of the Palestinian people under the leadership of the PLO. The Israelis warned the majors that they would be held responsible for disturbances in their district. The Israelis restricted public meetings and freedom of movement in the territories, including the movements of the mayors. They diminished the role of the mayors as providers of social and economic services, limiting funds that they could receive from abroad. And they moved more strongly against hostile political organizing.
Copyright © 2000-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.