Status of Palestinian Territories and Palestinian Society under Israeli Occupation

II. Political Status of Palestinian Territories under Israeli Occupation

After the 1967-war, Israel occupied the Gaza strip, the West Bank including East Jerusalem. The Israeli forces established a new headquarter for the West Bank in the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem.  On June 7, 1967, the Israeli forces proclaimed a Military Government through Military Order No. 2 that concentrated all powers and authorities divested from the former regimes in the hands of an Israeli Military Governor. Article 3 (a) of this order reads: "Any power of government, legislation, appointment, or administration with respect to the Region or its inhabitants shall henceforth be vested in me alone and shall be exercised only by me or by a person appointed by me to that end or acting on my behalf." 4
Although this order gave the military governor the same powers and authorities of the former Jordanian rule and the Egyptian military administration, still, the manner in which the Israelis exercised these powers and authorities differed. The main difference lay in the systematic Israeli policy of land appropriation for the purposes of building Jewish settlement.5
In accordance with this policy, Israel for the first 10 years of occupation (1967-1977), tried to maintain its own policy of 'co-existence', by, for example, raising the living standards and creating full employment for Palestinians in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, all for the purpose of creating Palestinian social groups interested in maintaining the status quo, that is the occupation.6 Moshe Dayan, then Minister of Defense in the Israeli Labor government and the main architect of the above policy, clarified its essence in writing the following: "The…formula was that while they [Palestinians] were opposed to our rule and wished us to evacuate the territories we had captured, as long as the existing situation continued, normal life was to be maintained"  7
In other words, Israel wanted the Palestinian population to accept
their new daily reality, the occupation. Furthermore, it sought to form a group of the population ready to cooperate under such terms. Israel also needed the relatively cheap Palestinian labor force, particularly in agriculture and construction, and did not allow the existence of any independent Palestinian agriculture or industry and put obstacles to hinder their development. Israel maintained the policy of 'co-existence' by keeping the crossing bridges open, which helped it infiltrate their recruited spies into the Arab World.

Israeli Military Orders
Whilst the state of Israel used a variety of techniques to subjugate and oppress the Palestinian population, it should be understood that military orders and regulations form the foundation and the very cornerstone of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Through various means, these orders have forced many Palestinians out of their land and subjugated the remainder of the population. The imposition of debilitating economic restrictions and land confiscation has been made possible through these military orders, for they bestow a 'legal' façade to the manipulation of natural resources for the purposes of the 'Belligerent Occupier', rather than for the benefit of the 'Indigenous Population'. 8
This purportedly legal framework stifles, at every turn, any attempt at social, economic or cultural development in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), being geared only towards promoting and strengthening Israel's own interests. Examples of such activity are legion, but worth particular note is Israel's annexation of land that is then turned over for the construction and expansion of further Israeli settlements, designed to accommodate the influx of Jewish settlers into the OPT. 9
It is worth mentioning that prior to 1980, all military orders and regulations which had been passed since 1967 were not available in a systematic and comprehensive form to the occupied population whose lives they ruled, or to lawyers and researchers trying to operate within the complex, and often impenetrable, system. After 1980, official volumes containing the Hebrew and Arabic text of orders were retroactively issued. However, these volumes do not constitute an Official Gazette; they are simply termed as a 'Collection of Orders, Pamphlets, and Appointments'. 10
The first Israeli military order was issued on June 7, 1967. Military Proclamation 1 announced that Israel had occupied and assumed administrative control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip 'in the interests of security and public order'. This was followed by a series of military orders that provided the legal basis for the expropriations of and restrictions on the use of Palestinian owned land, in order to bring most of the lands of the OPT under Israeli control.
The following military orders were, inter alia, the most important ones, issued and heavily employed by Israel's military government in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in order to expropriate Palestinian owned land.

Military Order No. 58
It was issued on July 23, 1967, concerning 'Absentee Property'.
This law was first issued in Israel in 1950 under 'Absentee Property Law', to take control of the property of Palestinian inhabitants of Israel within the Green Line, who fled or were expelled in the course of the 1948-war by declaring them as 'absentees'.
In the same way, the Israeli Military Commander took over so called 'absentees property' of Palestinians who fled or were expelled in the course of the 1967-war in the OPT. This military order provided the 'legal' basis for taking possession of this 'absentees' property', which is defined as "property whose legal owner, or whoever is granted the power to control it by law, left the area prior to 7 June 1967 or subsequently". 11

Military Order No. 59
It was issued on July 31, 1967, concerning 'State Property'.
This military order defines 'state property' as any movable or immovable property, which prior to June 7, 1967, belonged to a hostile state or to any arbitration body connected with a hostile state.12 The same military order states that "any land not individually registered or registered as the property of the Islamic Waqf, is subject to the designation as state land."13 Furthermore, Military Order No. 364 expanded the definition of 'state property' to include any property whose owner is unable to prove before a military committee (according to the rules of evidence which they determine) to be his private property. And in 1984, Military Order No. 1091, further defined 'state land' as follows:
"State property is now interpreted as including any property subject to an expropriation order. It is defined as: 1. Property that on the date of occupation or afterwards was registered in the name of an enemy state or any organization or company linked or controlled directly or indirectly by a hostile state. 2. Land that has been confiscated in the public interest in accordance with legislation or security legislation through or for one of the sectors/ authorities of the Israeli military forces which is not necessarily local. 3. All property which belongs to individuals who have requested that the official authorities administer and manage their properties, and which the official has consented to administer."
The process of land registration began in Palestine under the British Mandate in 1928 and was continued by the Jordanian government in the West Bank from 1950 to 1967.  However, after the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories, governmental land was placed under the Custodian of the Public Property (an institution which was created by virtue of Military Order No. 59) 14
In June 1967 only one third of the whole West Bank land had been properly registered in the Jordanian Land Register and in December 1968 the Israeli occupier froze all further registration in the Jordanian Land Register and also prevented any access of Palestinians to the files by Military Order No. 291, Concerning Settlement of Disputes over Land and Water. The justification given by the Israeli military government for this step was "to avoid prejudicing the rights of the many absentees and the ownership rights of Jordanian nationals, who have lands in the West Bank but reside outside this area." 15 
Therefore, that large part of unregistered land was registered in the Israeli Land Register and not the previous West Bank Land Register, which was created for that purpose by virtue of Military Order No. 569, Concerning the Registration of Special Transactions in Land, 1974. This land was intended to serve the benefits and interests of the Jewish settlers only.16
In 1980, the Custodian of Government Property, based on the power vested in him by virtue of Military Order No. 59, 1967 and on a twisted interpretation of paragraph 103 of the Ottoman Land Law, 1855, started to declare all unregistered and uncultivated land as 'state land', unless someone can prove ownership. The Ottoman, British and Jordanian interpretations of the Ottoman Land Law, 1855, states that only unregistered 'mawat' land may theoretically become 'state land'. However, the Israeli military government adopted an extremely broad and totally absurd interpretation of this law, which was intended to enable also the declaration of all so considered 'uncultivated' land as 'state land'. According to the Israeli interpretation, land is considered as 'uncultivated' if it has not been cultivated 'continuously' during the previous 10 years.17

Military Order No. 271
It was issued on August 12, 1968, concerning Occupied Land declared as 'Combat or Fighting Zones'.
Some areas were declared by the District Commander as 'Combat or Fighting Zones' meaning that the Israeli military government does not consider itself as being responsible for damage incurred by military action. It was amended by Military Order No. 372 of 1970, regarding liability of the Israeli forces. It states that "no compensation will be paid by the IDF for any damage which was caused in any area which the Area Commander has defined as a fighting zone." 18
In other words, in a declared 'fighting zone' no compensation is to be paid for any damage that occurred as a result of actions of Israeli soldiers, of forces acting in coordination with the Israeli forces or a resident action to the Israeli forces. 19

Military Order No. 321
It was issued on March 28, 1969, concerning 'Land Expropriation for Public Purposes'.
Local Jordanian law, which Israel as an occupying power had to respect according to international law, explicitly stated that the expropriation must be for the 'public' benefit. The 'public' in the West Bank consists of the Palestinian Arab people, and not the Israeli Jewish settlers which were, in contradiction to international law, transferred by Israel to the OPT.
However, most of the land that was expropriated on the basis of this military order was used for Jewish settlements, access roads and for a network of highways to facilitate the expansion of Jewish settlements.

Military Order No. 363
It was issued on December 22, 1969, concerning Occupied Land declared as 'Natural Reserves' [see map].
By declaring a land as a 'Natural Reserve', severe restrictions on construction and land use are imposed on these areas for the claim of protecting the environment. Israel has commonly used this method to confiscate land on which settlements are later being built; moreover, no compensation for damages is specified.20
Although natural reserves are supposed to be for the protection of the environment, in reality it is considered by the Israeli authorities a central part of the land-seizure program, on which later settlements are being built. During the 1980s, the authorities had declared at least 340,000 dunums of land as 'natural reserves'. 21

Military Order No. 378
It was issued on April 20, 1970, concerning Occupied Land declared as 'Closed Areas' [see map].
Any military commander is empowered by Article 90 of Military Order No. 378, to declare by a written order, any area or place as a 'closed area'. Though the ownership of closed areas remains in the hands of the residents, they are deprived of their right of use of the land and no compensation is given to them in return. Most of the closed areas are also so-called 'state lands' and/or declared as 'combat zones'. Some of the declared 'closed areas' were closed within populated areas, for example, in October-November 1999, 700 residents of the South Mount Hebron area were expelled from their homes, after the area had been declared a closed military zone. 22

Military Order No. 393
It was issued on June 14, 1970, concerning 'Supervision of Construction Works'.
By virtue of Military Order No. 393, any military commander may prohibit construction or order a halt in construction or impose conditions on construction if he believes it necessary for the 'security' of the Israeli army in the area or to ensure public order.
Orders prohibiting building have been issued regarding areas around military camps and installations, around Jewish settlements and whole settlement areas. Construction is also prohibited within 200-m strip along both sides of main roads.23 Furthermore, after the construction of the Segregation Wall in 2002, construction within the area of 150-200 m to the wall is prohibited. This applies only to the Palestinian side and does not apply to the Israeli side of the wall. Orders for demolition have been given for houses that were already built and inhabited for years, but were on the side of the Wall. 

Municipal Elections of 1972
The Israeli Military Administration in the Gaza Strip was carried out in a different manner than it was in the West Bank. Strict control was imposed on the local institutions in the Gaza Strip; whereas, the same institutions enjoyed a margin of freedom in the West Bank. By this Israel hoped to support the pro-Jordanian leaders, especially after 'Black September' events took place in 1970, for the war weakened the prestige of this leadership among Palestinians and at the same time raised the status of the PLO within the OPT. Israel sensed the weak position of the pro-Hashemites, and attempted to use this element to pressure them into cooperation. Israel, therefore, in the latter half of 1971 announced its intention to hold municipal elections and scheduled these elections for 1972. 24
The first municipal elections in Palestine were held in 1963 when Jordan was in control of the West Bank, most of the elected leadership reflected the Hashemite dominance. Elections were supposed to be resumed in 1968, but the Palestinians postponed them thinking that the Israeli occupation was temporary. 25
For Israel, the 1972 elections offered the prospect of producing legitimate leaders with whom it could discuss local autonomy within the context of Israeli rule. Some believe that Israel hoped to build an alternative grassroots leadership as a counterweight to the growing popularity of the PLO. 26
With these elections, Israel sought to strengthen the position of the pro-Hashemites to highlight the PLO's defeat in the Jordanian Palestinian civil war (Black September) and furthermore to proceed with its policy of 'co-existence', thinking that the pro-Hashemite Palestinians would be more moderate negotiators than the pro-PLO faction. As a result, Israel not only pressured the pro-Hashemite families to present their candidates in the 1972 elections, it also threatened some with punitive measures in the case that they did not present candidates. 27
An example of this occurred in Nablus. For as mentioned earlier the pro-Hashemite Palestinians were derived from the largest families in the West Bank and held important positions in all major institutions. Two of the most powerful families in Nablus were Al Masri and Tuqan, against whom Israel took aggressive measures right before the elections. 28
Mayor Ma'zoz Al Masri, his cousin and former speaker of the Jordanian Parliament, Hikmat Al Masri, and Hafiz Tuqan, head of the Nablus Chamber of Commerce at that time were called one evening from their homes to the offices of the military government in Nablus, from where they were taken by a helicopter to Beit El, where the Israeli Defense Minister at that time, Moshe Dayan, the Area Commander Brigadier General Rafael Vardi, and his advisor on Arab affairs, the late Colonel David Pirhi, were waiting. 29
It was explained to the three men that if they did not present candidates from their families, the military government would exercise its role as heirs to the Jordanian government and take control over the factories owned by these families, for "up until 1967, the Jordanian government was a partner in some of the families' factories, but the Israeli government had yet to take advantage of its rights because of large loans that the Jordanian government had granted to enlarge their factories in the fifties". In addition, Israel threatened that it would ban shipping merchandise from Nablus across the Jordan River's bridges. This would make the families lose control of the economy of Nablus and the region, and, therefore, they yielded and decided to present their candidates to participate in the elections. 30
The 1972 municipal elections were held according to the Jordanian municipal law of 1955, therefore being held in two rounds and excluding women and young men from participating. The first round took place in March 1972, covering the northern cities of the West Bank, or what the Israeli government called Samaria, while the second round took place two months later, in May 1972 and covered the southern cities of the West Bank, Judea according to the Israeli division, with exception to Hebron, where Muhammad Ali al Ja'bari was nominated for the mayoralty by consensus. 31
Only males who were of 21 of age  and older, and who paid at least one Jordanian dinar per year in business or property tax were eligible to vote, with the last condition giving the rich families and landowners a greater chance of being elected to the councils than others. For example, if someone paid 100 dinars in tax he would secure for himself, his friends or his family 100 votes. 32 
Thus, as a result of the taxpaying condition there were a very low proportion of eligible voters in relation to the actual population of each city;33 around 32,000 Palestinians were registered as eligible voters. Of this number, approximately 26,000 voted for 337 candidates, from 22 municipal councils, who sought 182 municipal seats, excluding the aforesaid municipal seats in Hebron. 34
The Jordanian government and the PLO condemned the elections being held under occupation. They considered holding the elections under Israeli occupation to be as recognition of its authority. Other reasons were that both the Jordanian government and the PLO feared the rise of a new local power, which in time would undermine the status of their leadership to the Palestinian cause.35

Palestinian National Front
In January 1973, the Palestinian National Council (PNC) approved the creation of the Palestine National Front (PNF) at a meeting in Cairo. It was the first central leadership established after 1948 with representatives from all of the OPT factions that emerged to embrace all anti-Hashemite nationalists;36 it also contained members of the Jordanian Communist Council.37  "The rise of the Front was a further indication of the eclipse of the pro-Hashemites in the West Bank and their succession by younger nationalists; the PNF viewed the Jordanian regime with as much apathy as it did Israel."  38
Even though the PNC's decisions of the tenth (1972) and eleventh (1973) summits placed an emphasis on creating a political organization within the OPT to resist absorption by either Israel or Jordan, there could be little doubt that the decision to form the PNF came from inside the OPT, before the October-War of 1973. A PNF activist, Ibrahim Dakkak, related that representatives of the Jordanian Communist Party and Palestinian nationalists from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank met in East Jerusalem early in 1972 and agreed on the need to establish the Front. The PNF took shape in 1974, and included representatives of the Jordanian Communist Party, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Fatah, and the Ba'th Party, as well as labor, student, professional, and women's groups.39
Its goal, which was stated in its first communiqué on August 15, 1973, was "to collectively confront the Israeli Occupation by non-violent means and to act as an organizational framework and autonomous PLO affiliate to coordinate activities of nationalist resistance forces in the OPT." 40 In other words the PNF was mandated with leading the nationalist resistance to the occupation in the OPT by resisting occupation and economic integration with Israel and promoting and supporting the liberation cause. As Abdul Jawad Saleh, a cofounder of the PNF said; "We created a collective leadership to confront Israel's policies of colonization through non-violent means. We wanted to provide a peaceful option based on the right of self-determination." 41
The PNF arrived at a time when the PLO's legitimacy was gaining ground, particularly following the Algiers and Rabat Arab Summits in November 1973 and October 1974 respectively, when it was named the 'sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people'. The PNF's political program paralleled the PLO's 'Ten-point program', which was adopted during the twelfth Palestinian National Council meeting that took place in June 1974; the program was considered the first peace attempt from the PLO side and sought to establish Palestinian Authority on any part of Historical Palestine. 42
The PNF, however, adopted certain stands that counter those of the PLO, for example, it warned against extremism and against sentimentalism. "[The PNF] offered Israel recognition and security while enabling Palestinians to regain control over their national future and at least a portion of their lands.43… However, Israel was consistent in shrugging off the principles supported by the PNF by refusing to acknowledge Palestinians in general while maintaining that it bore no responsibility for solving the problems of those displaced in its various wars." 44
The PNF's December 1973 letter to the PLO Executive Committee urged the PLO to attend the Geneva Conference, which was based on Resolution 242. It also detailed the benefits of achieving an Israeli withdrawal from the OPT and the establishment of a Palestinian state on these areas.45 Nevertheless, this notion was appreciated by neither the PLO nor the Israelis who (the Israelis) continued their aggressive measures to hinder the achievements of the PNF. For instance, Ibrahim Bakir, a respected Palestinian leader, was one of the first who promoted a two-state solution; he was no sooner among the first leaders Israel expelled. At a time when the PNF went for peace and political compromise, eight of its suspected leaders were deported.46
The PNF's role in the OPT focused on national institution building. It saw in it a means of making the OPT independent of services provided by Israel or Jordan. It also saw in it an attempt to build independent representative institutions for the conduct of day-to-day political and administrative life. Therefore, municipal administration, labor issues, and educational issues were patently nationalist as well as local issues. It was in these areas that the PNF was notably effective. And the top achievement of the PNF was their victory in the 1976 municipal elections in the West Bank. 47
The PNF mobilized the Palestinian population towards the non-violence resistance, in which they believed and saw a fruitful move to end occupation and attain peace in the OPT. Abdul Jawad Saleh, another respected Palestinian leader, held in 1974 public conferences in Jerusalem and in Nablus. At these meetings he emphasized the importance of having a central and field leadership in the OPT. He also called for peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and made it clear that he was firmly of the view that a two-state solution was necessary. Saleh, like many others, was deported two months after stating his non-violent advocacy of the two-state solution. According to Saleh, the reaction of the Israeli Military Government to the non-violent movement was to further hinder the achievements of the mayors and the city councils and to harass Israelis who were speaking out for Palestinian rights. 48
According to the Israeli Professor of Law, David Kretzmer, former member of the UN Human Rights Committee, in his book 'The Occupation of Justice: The Supreme Court of Israel and the Occupied Territories', "the Supreme Court has granted legitimacy to nearly all the decisions taken by the government and by the Israeli Defense Forces, even when these decisions were arbitrary, seriously violated human rights and were plainly contrary to international law."49 In some cases, the military authorities dissolved the elected councils that brought cases before the Israeli High Court. For example, on July 7, 1983, the Mayor of Hebron was dismissed and the council was dismantled for the reason of petitioning the Court against the demolition of Palestinian homes and shops in the center of Hebron for the purpose of building an Israeli settlement.50 The Israeli High Court of Justice's dualism was obvious and deliberate. Professor Kretzmer concludes in his book that "the criteria used by the High Court of Justice when it is required to deliberate on disputes between the Israeli regime and Palestinian residents of the [occupied] Territories are extremely different from the criteria it applies when it is called upon to deliberate on disputes between the authorities and Israeli citizens." 51
As a side note, Israel has a devious way in creating wrong impressions, for as in the previous quotation as well as in many other cases, Israel refers to the Jewish population as citizens of the land and to the Palestinian population as residents of it. The use of the term 'citizen' indicates permanent, while the term 'resident' indicates temporary. By this, Israel is aiming at presenting the Jewish settlers as owners of the land and the Palestinians as by passers, uprooting any Palestinian history or roots on this land.

Municipal Elections of 1976
The 1976 elections took place in different political atmosphere from that which had prevailed in 1972. The past years witnessed events that changed the political situation in the OPT; events such as the October (Yom Kippur) War, in 1973, and the recognition of the PLO as a sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians, in 1974. The recognition of the PLO led to the increase of its supporters among the Palestinian population and Jordan's abstention in the 1973-war led to the decrease in the number of the pro-Hashemites, which created a new equation in the new elections.

On the side, the brief (April 3-12) election campaign took place only a few weeks following what became known and celebrated as the 'Land Day'.52 For on March 30, 1976 tens of thousands of Palestinians demonstrated in the streets, a strike was announced and protests broke out in the City of Nazareth against Israeli expropriation of land in the Galilee area, during which Israel killed 6 people and injured over 70.53 The demonstrations and strikes spread to many other Palestinian cities inside the Green Line (Israel before 1967). This event proved the unity of the Palestinian population and their attachment to their land.

Not only had the political atmosphere changed in the 1976 elections, but also the elections' regulations as well. Unlike in 1972, when only over 21 years old males with property were allowed to vote, in 1976, the tax regulation was canceled and women were allowed to vote, thus every adult over 18 years of age was eligible to vote. This change of election regulations was confronted by opposition from Jordan, for this change constituted violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention that states that the occupying power should maintain the status quo in the occupied territories. However, unlike the Hashemites of Jordan, the PLO supported this extension of the vote to all the population and urged its supporters (members of the PNF and other nationalists) to participate in the elections when it became clear that those elections would put PLO supporters in office.54 Israel undertook the new elections to confirm that the Palestinians had reconciled themselves to the occupation. They had the impression that the new elections would reestablish a Palestinian leadership that would maintain the status of dependency. However, the results of the elections were not what the Israelis had expected; the PLO supporters swept a victory in the 1976 elections. Table (2.1) shows the names of the new mayors in some of the major cities in the OPT.

According to Dr. Tarik Mukhimer, researcher at Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza, "Among the 205 elected councilors, there were 153 (75%) new faces that constituted 14 of the 24 mayors. 40% of the new councilors and 33% of the new mayors were pro-PLO or leftist nationalists. Moreover, the new elected councilors and mayors were younger (67% were under the age of 50, and 10% were under the age of 30), and better educated (53% had higher education). In addition, 40% were white collar, 40% were traders and businessmen, and 20% were farmers and landowners. The nationalist orientation of these councilors and mayors did not correspond with the new sociological orientation." 55

Some of the mayors elected in 1972 refused to take part in the new elections in spite of the Israeli demands that they run for re-election. Therefore, fearing that the PLO would win the election after the pro-Hashemite candidates refused to go for re-election, Israel expelled some national candidates before the elections that took place on April 12, 1976, like what happened in Nablus and Hebron. The mayors, Nablus' Al-Masri and Hebron's Ja'bari refused repeated Israeli demands that they run for re-election. As a result, Israel expelled nationalist candidates, like Dr. Ahmad Hamzi Al-Natshi and Dr. Abdel Aziz al-Hajj, just days before the election. 56 
Nonetheless, some of the old guards were re-elected, such as Bethlehem's Mayor Elias Freij, and Gaza's Rashad Al -Shawwa, who by the way was appointed and not elected. "They were both merchants first and foremost, and a desire to prevent upheaval of any sort guided their actions. Their wealth, and even their style of dress, linked them to the traditional sources of power in the territories—for the West Bank, to Amman and its king, and in Gaza’s case, to Cairo." 57

As for the new mayors, they were young, educated and of local tradition than of those of past tradition. Although many of them were the sons of the influential families in their towns and cities, still they were considered an evolutionary continuity to the past generations. They demanded concrete political concessions such as an end to the occupation and the granting of Palestinian sovereignty, for they were less content with the minor reforms offered by Israel's occupation administration. These mayors had legal power for sovereignty because they drew their support from 'the street' and popular masses that elected them. 58
According to Dayan's autobiography, "The acting leaders of the Arab population in the new territories were the mayors. They were the bridge between the Arab public and the Israeli [military] governors. Administrative actions, imports, trade, matters concerning the entrance of relatives from abroad, education, health services, grants and loans to municipalities, and all other day-to-day matters were handled through them." 59 

Table (2.1): Names of Mayors of Major Towns elected in 1976

Name of Mayor


Elias Frij


Bshara Daoud

Beit Jala

Hanna Atrash

Beit Sahour

Kareem Khalaf


Ibrahim Taweel

Al Bireh

Bassam Shak'a


Amin Nasser


Hilmi Hannun


Fahd Qawasmeh


Muhammad Milhem


Abdul Aziz Swaiti


Rashid Shawwa


The Israeli administration's response to the results of the elections was not easygoing. As Minister of Defense, Shimon Peres took measures to weaken the influence of the new mayors. For example in Nablus, the Israeli Military Government delayed the export licenses of a factory belonging to a relative of Shak'a's.60 Furthermore, members of Nablus' municipal council had complained of Israel's attempts to paralyze local development, by refusing to act on requests to build schools, enlarge Nablus' electrical plant, and transfer foreign aid.61 It also refused to permit fifty West Bank Palestinians to travel to Cairo for a meeting with the Palestinian National Council. All these measures and much more came because Israel did not want to see the consolidation of a Palestinian 'national authority' that might push for the acceptance of UN Resolutions 242 and 338. 62

Shak'a, Mayor of Nablus recounted the situation that the young mayors found themselves in as follows: "The Israeli authorities thought they had achieved their goal, and they started exerting pressure on the municipal councils to use them as tools to liquidate the Palestinian cause. We had been elected for municipal purposes, but they tried to use us for political objectives. When we resisted those attempts, when we refused to be used, they accused us of political activity. They changed their objective: instead of using us to subdue the people, they began trying to subdue us, thinking that this would be the best way to end our people's resistance." 63 And that was how the assault on the Palestinian mayors began, especially after June 1977, when a new Israeli government was formed by the Israeli Likud Party, whose policy towards the Palestinians was more radical and offensive than the previous Labor government.

Furthermore, the proportion of Israel's contribution to West Bank annual municipal budgets fell from 30% in 1973-1974, to 18.5% in 1975-1976, to 17% in 1977-1987, and to about 7% in 1979-1980. 64 So, in the spring of 1977, West Bank mayors began traveling to the Arab Gulf States to solicit donations, grants, and loans. However, the Israeli authorities forbade the mayors of Nablus, Jenin, and Ramallah from taking their planned fund-raising trip, pending submission of their development plans to Israeli authorities. 65

Those funds that were raised by the mayors' delegations could not be transferred directly to the West Bank. Instead, they were deposited in Jordanian banks in Amman, which marked the start of reconciliation between the PLO and Jordan. On November 15, 1978, during the Bagdad Summit, the Arab countries helped establish the Palestinian-Jordanian Joint Committee for aiding the steadfastness of the Palestinian people in the OPT, at a time Egypt embarked on a separate peace with Israel in Camp David.66 The PLO-Jordanian Joint Committee was co-chaired by the PLO's Hamid Abu Sittah and Adnan Abu Awdah.67 Therefore, with the support of the financial allocations of the Baghdad Summit, the financial part of development became easier than any time before. However, permission was seldom given for the required development. Israel was implementing a strategic plan for the OPT that clearly prohibited any kind of Palestinian development. 68

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