15 MARCH 1975, Page 4

Israel and Arabs

Sir: The Arab Boycott Office in Damascus has announced its intention of ending commercial traffic across the Jordan bridges, between the Israel-occupied West Bank and the Kingdom of Jordan. This traffic is of considerable benefit to the Palestinian Arabs of the West Bank, and has been an intrinsic part of the contact which they have been enabled to maintain with their fellow-Palestinians on the east bank of the river Jordan.

The Jordanian authorities have already stated that disruption of traffic across the Jordan bridges will hurt the 700,000 Palestinian Arabs of the West Bank. It will benefit nobody, and it is probable that the Boycott Office has been encouraged to consider this antisocial and insensate measure by the Palestinian extremists of the PLO. Their creed is to damage anyone, even if he is a Palestinian Arab, in the pursuit of their own ends.

The 'open bridges' policy was initiated by the Israelis, in the belief that any normalisation of the situation in the Middle East was a matter of practical commonsense, The Government of Jordan has willingly co-operated, wanting Arabs to maintain contact with Arabs. The movement of people, even more than of goods, across the Jordan has helped to alleviate the suffering caused by the maintenance of a state of war in the Middle East. The plans of the Arab Boycott Office to stop this free movement are utterly retrograde. They should be opposed in every possible way, and primarily in the interests of the people of the West Bank and the Kingdom of Jordan, who wish to maintain as full and civilised contact as possible with each other.

Terence Prittie Britain and Israel, 15 Uxbridge Street, London W8