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WORLD : Israel Mulls Reopening of Schools

From Times staff and wire service reports

Israel ordered preparations today for the gradual reopening of schools in the occupied West Bank, closed for most of a 19-month-old Palestinian uprising.

The move follows mounting international pressure, notably from the United States, for Israel to relax its clampdown on the occupied territories.

Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin set no date for returning the 320,000 Arab pupils to their schools, closed because of chronic unrest. His spokesman Eitan Haber said in a statement: “The schools will open gradually in the near future . . . preceded by a period of instruction among headmasters, teachers, students and their families.”

The order appeared to reverse previous government demands for guarantees from Palestinian leaders to maintain order in schools and prevent pupils from joining demonstrations before any reopening.

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