Sharon cracks down on extremist settlers

The Israeli Prime Minister ordered a crackdown on pro-settler extremists yesterday in response to an attack on a cabinet minister and death threats to other politicians.

The move by Ariel Sharon came as Dalia Rabin, whose father, Yitzhak, was assassinated by a far-right fanatic in 1995, warned: "If we don't do enough now to stop the deterioration, we will again see the terrible spectacle of a prime minister assassinated."

The Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper quoted a police source as saying 84 senior officials were under protection because of concern for their lives.

Meir Sheetrit, the Transport Minister, a defiant Likud dove overseeing the financial aspects of the disengagement of settlers from occupied territory, said he had received death threats to himself, his wife and children.

Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, an Iraqi-born Labour party minister, showed cabinet colleagues a letter reading: "Arab blood is flowing through your veins. You must return to Iraq to defend Saddam Hussein." Mr Ben-Eliezer, a retired brigadier- general, left Iraq in 1950.

Most of the threats appear, however, to be aimed at Mr Sharon. Graffiti threatening him with death and doctored photographs of Mr Sharon dressed in a Stalinist uniform with the words "The Dictator" have become increasingly common, drawing comparisons to the sort of incitement that preceded the Rabin assassination.

On Saturday, police arrested a 17-year-old suspected of involvement in Thursday night's attack on the Finance Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, because of his support for the disengagement plan. A plate was allegedly thrown at the former prime minister. Also last week, the Education Minister Limor Livnat was jostled and heckled at a memorial ceremony.

The tighter security was instituted as Israel approved the release of 500 Palestinian prisoners yesterday, in what Mr Sharon called a goodwill gesture to bolster the new Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and build mutual trust. Officials began compiling a second list of 400 to follow within three months. The prisoner release was in a package of gestures that Mr Sharon said could increase mutual trust between Israel and the Palestinian Authority after last week's ceasefire agreement, which was endorsed on Saturday by Hamas and Islamic Jihad on condition that Israel kept its side of the bargain.

In an attempt to broaden popular support for Mr Abbas, 25 per cent of prisoners in the first batch belong to the radical militias and 75 per cent to his mainstream al-Fatah. Israel waived its earlier insistence that only those who had completed two-thirds of their sentence would be eligible, but it is still refusing to free any who killed Israelis.

This week Israel is expected to begin restoring five West Bank towns to Palestinian security control. The first will be Jericho, which has been relatively quiet during the four and a half years of intifada violence. Tulkarem, Qalqiliya, Ramallah and Bethlehem will follow, but Israel is waiting to gauge the effectiveness of Palestinian forces before pulling back from hotspots that include Nablus, Jenin and Hebron.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
News
peopleComedian star of Ed Sullivan Show was mother to Ben Stiller
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?