Israel has banned Arab committees in a major crackdown on the Palestinian leadership directing the anti-Israel uprising in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in an interview with state-run Israel Radio, said the action was aimed at reducing violence and diminishing the influence of the committees that many Arabs see as a grassroots effort toward establishing the infrastructure of an independent Palestinian state."The outlawing of the local committees will bring about an easier climate in which to work against their members," he said. "It is a formal legal act. It does not solve the more serious fact that the people working in these bodies must be caught, brought to trial, sentenced or deported."