Angry Likud has no alternative

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The Independent Online
Jerusalem - Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the opposition Likud party, joined 250 right-wing Israelis last night in signing a pledge declaring the agreement reached in Washington "null and void", writes Patrick Cockburn. It appears, however, from Mr Netanyahu's statements afterwards, that if he wins next year's election he will not abrogate the accord but will expect Yasser Arafat to keep his promises.

There has been little backlash from the right since the agreement on Palestinian self-rule was initialled in Taba last Sunday. This is partly because Likud does not have an alternative policy to peace negotiations. A poll by the daily Yediot Aharanot indicates 51 per cent support them, while 47 per cent are against. Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister, said: "The problem distressing the public is personal security On this will fall or rise the agreement."

The main opposition to the accord has focused less on withdrawal of troops from occupied areas than the freeing of Palestinian prisoners involved directly or indirectly in killing Jews. President Ezer Weizman said he "would not agree to release prisoners who have Jewish blood on their hands". A small number of the 1,300 Palestinians to be released fall into this category.

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