Settlers take a grim view of Hebron deal

In their headquarters in Hebron yesterday Israeli settlers were grimly listening to news of the accord agreed earlier in the day between Israel and the Palestinians as a result of which 80 per cent of the city will come under Palestinian control within the next 10 days.

Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet later accepted the Hebron deal with the Palestinians by a vote of 11-7. But Noam Arnon, a settler leader, complained: "American pressure was too great." He went on to explain how the Israeli prime minister had agreed to much the same accord on Hebron as he had previously denounced. "Netanyahu wrote a book that said there should be no surrender to terrorism, and now he signed an agreement with a terrorist group," said Mr Arnon, who leads the 500 Jewish settlers who live among 120,000 Palestinians in Hebron.

In the heavy rain outside the settler enclave Palestinians showed few signs of jubilation. The Israeli redeployment has yet to take place and they live in the part of the city which stays under Israeli control. "There may be a different mood when we take over the Israeli military headquarters," said a by-stander, pointing to an old British colonial fortress.

Early yesterday morning at the Erez crossing point between Gaza and Israel, after last-minute discussions between Mr Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, the protocol on Hebron was finally agreed after delays caused by Palestinian suicide bombers and by the Israeli election.

The accord says that by the end of next week Hebron will have 400 Palestinian police, armed with 100 rifles and 200 pistols. Close to settler enclaves the police will carry only pistols. Hills overlooking settlers' houses will be patrolled by a joint Israeli-Palestinian force. The Palestinian wholesale market and a main road will be reopened. A joint rapid reaction force will be established.

None of this differs much from the 1995 agreement. An Israeli demand for the right to pre-emptive entry into Palestinian areas has been dropped. Mr Arafat had made his biggest concessions when he agreed to the partition of the city more than a year ago.

The Hebron protocol was agreed more than a week ago and the point at issue was the three-stage Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. This is now to be finished by the middle of next year.

By yesterday afternoon the extent of the withdrawal was creating fresh divisions. The Palestinians insist that Israel must leave 90 per cent of the West Bank and deny that the Israeli government can claim 50 per cent as "military locations".

Some Israeli ministers reject the accord. Benjamin Begin, the Science Minister and son of a former prime minister, angrily told Israeli army radio: "The Prime Minister committed himself to give away sections of the Jewish homeland. He gets zero from Arafat." Mr Begin was said to have shouted at Mr Netanyahu during the decisive cabinet meeting.

The dispute over the protocol may force a realignment on the Israeli right, the hard core breaking with Mr Netanyahu for giving up part of the Land of Israel.

In addition to the agreement on Hebron, Mr Netanyahu and Mr Arafat agreed on a three-page "Note for the Record" in which both sides get less than they would have liked. Palestinian demands such as safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank as well as construction of a Palestinian airport and port at Gaza will be discussed in future. It does not appear that there is any real change on the release of 3,000 Palestinian prisoners.

Israel had demanded the extradition of the Palestinians in autonomous areas who had killed Israelis, but Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian negotiator, said yesterday that they would, as before, be tried in Palestinian courts. Overall, the accord differs little from the interim accord signed by Labour.

"I'm a very happy man today," Yossi Beilin, the architect of the peace accords, said. "I would like to welcome Netanyahu to the Oslo club. The process is the only game in town."

Where now? page 19

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent