Settlers pay price of rise in violence

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The Independent Online
"Six have been killed from my high school of Renekasen in six months, two at Beit Lid," said Coby Gilassof, 16, as he stood by the road in Maale Addumim, a big, growing Israeli settlement on the West Bank, east of Jerusalem. "The Arabs were very s mart and the people here definitely feel more frightened."

Israelis have a growing sense of insecurity which is discrediting the 1993 peace agreement with the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Yitzhak Rabin's government is not about to fall but it is divided and embattled.

Mr Rabin's strength was that he was trusted for his security acumen. But, in the 16 months since he signed the agreement with the PLO chairman, Yasser Arafat, 110 Israelis and 196 Palestinians have been killed. In the latest poll, before Beit Lid, only 23 per cent of voters backed him as prime minister.

Surprisingly for Maale Adummim, where the 22,000 inhabitants traditionally support the right, Coby Gilassof thought talks should continue, "because Hamas and Islamic Jihad want to destroy the peace." But, he approved of the decision to begin work on another 1,080 homes in the settlement.

Inna Gokhberg, an immigrant from the Ukraine, opposed talks: "Rabin and Peres all the time speak with Arafat and things have not got better." She lived in Maale Adummim because she could rent a flat for £270 a month less than in Jerusalem. But, she was worried about her son in the army.

Disillusion with peace talks is spreading and despite grandiose plans to build a new security line, many Israelis feel suicide bombers will get through. In southern Lebanon, clashes with the pro-Iranian Hizbollah are increasing. A senior Israeli officer said this week: "Hizbollah has completed its political and military takeover of all of the villages in South Lebanon".