Behave, Shamir Tells Palestinians During Visit to West Bank
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir toured the predominantly Arab city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank under heavy army guard today and told Palestinian residents to behave.
Arab witnesses said Shamir’s visit to Hebron was preceded by dozens of soldiers who banged on shop doors and used megaphones to order storekeepers to open their businesses.
Shamir spoke to a cluster of Arab merchants through a translator in the open-air marketplace. He asked them what they were doing to promote peace in the territories.
“We are praying and hoping,” a bearded merchant said. “The Israelis shouldn’t press so hard against the population.”
“If you behaved yourselves we wouldn’t have to pressure,” Shamir replied.
‘We Want Jerusalem!’
He was interrupted by a young Arab boy, who shouted: “There won’t be peace! We want Jerusalem, Jaffa and Haifa!” before troops pushed him away.
“I believe a large part of the population understands it is exhausting itself and that these months of violence have not brought peace or any positive solution,” Shamir said. “We can see the population is losing interest in violent demonstrations.”
Shamir also met with about 60 Jewish settler families who live in a small fortress-like enclave in Hebron, a city of 90,000 Arab residents.
“Be patient and cooperate with the army. You should know the entire people of Israel support you,” Shamir told the settlers, who greeted him with singing and dancing.
Meanwhile, Israeli authorities in the occupied West Bank decided today to allow the gradual reopening of Palestinian schools.
Security sources said Israel would allow kindergartens and elementary schools to reopen on May 23. Other educational institutions would reopen later if there were no disturbances around those which had resumed classes.
Israel closed all Palestinian schools in the West Bank four months ago, saying they had become centers of anti-Israeli riots. There are an estimated 300,000 students in the region.
Witnesses said the army was seen leaving a number of schools in the West Bank which it had been using as bases.
In the West Bank city of Nablus, Israeli troops fired live ammunition at stone-throwing youths and wounded five of them, Arab reporters said.