Ministers Suggest Banning Palestinians From Entering Israel
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Government ministers suggested Sunday that Palestinian entry into Israel should be strictly limited or banned altogether following an Arab attack that left two soldiers dead and 11 injured.
Defense Minister Moshe Arens, of the ruling Likud bloc, warned that an increase in such assaults was possible as the time draws nearer for a proposed Middle East peace conference.
″We are aware that there might be more attacks with a clear intention of harming the peace process,″ Arens said of the planned conference later this month. ″Surely in the field, among the Arab population, there are people who are not interested in the peace process.″
In Friday’s assault, a 25-year-old Palestinian from the occupied West Bank drove his van into a group of Israeli soldiers hitchhiking in Tel Aviv.
Sgt. Shmuel Michaeli, 21, and Master Sgt. Aharon Kaluzne-Agmon, 36, were buried Sunday after funerals in suburban Tel Aviv.
No decisions were adopted after discussions of the killing at the regular Sunday Cabinet meeting.
At the meeting, Likud’s Police Minister Roni Milo suggested banning some Palestinians from entering Israel.
″Everybody who is a high security risk, due to involvement in terrorist activities, or membership in radical religious groups ... must be decisively barred,″ Milo said over Israel radio.
Religious Affairs Minister Avner Shaki noted that most recent anti-Israeli attacks were carried out by young peole and suggested barring Palestinians under 25 ″for a long and defined period of time.″
Minister without portfolio Rehavam Zeevi, of the radical Moledet movement espousing expulsion of Arabs from Israel, demanded an outright ban except in isolated cases.
″They should not bring death to our streets and houses,″ he said.
Palestinian workers from the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip need special permits to enter Israel, and the majority of the 100,000 laborers are not allowed to spend the night within Israel’s pre-1967 borders.
Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza, home to 1.7 million Palestinians and about 100,000 Jewish settlers, in the 1967 Middle East war. These lands are the focus of the Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule.
In the past, Israel has closed the territories for short periods, usually following terror attacks or on national holidays. Several thousand Palestinians have also been banned from travel to Israel for security reasons.
But Likud hard-liners oppose an outright ban, feeling it would undermine Israel’s claim to the disputed areas when the peace process opens.
″It’s not possible in the long run,″ argued Arens. ″Today, the land of Israel’s western part is a single economic and demographic unit ... It seems to me that the idea of separating Jews and Arabs, as a solution to the problem, is an illusion.″
In other developments Sunday:
-Housing Minister Ariel Sharon visited Jewish settlers who last week occupied houses in a Jerusalem Arab neighborhood and announced his support for the squatters. The settlers’ move drew criticism from the United States and an Israeli inquiry into whether the settlers have a legal right to the homes.
-The Peace Now group filed a suit in the Supreme Court, seeking to force Israel to stop building settlements on land in the territories declared state property.