Settlers vow to resist Hebron troop pull-out

Agreement on West Bank withdrawal likely at today's summit, writes Eric Silver in Jerusalem

Defiant Jewish settlers, angry at the prospect of a peace deal between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, plan to flood Hebron with thousands of sympathisers. They want to resist the redeployment of Israeli troops from the last West Bank Arab city still under occupation.

The new strategy was revealed yesterday as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators continued haggling over the smallprint of a Hebron deal, agreed in broad detail at a Christmas Eve summit between their respective leaders, Benjamin Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat.

A spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister said last night that another summit was likely today at which they hoped to initial an agreement. "The talks," he added, "seem to be going well." The package is expected to include a timetable for further Israeli withdrawals from West Bank rural areas.

Forty Jewish families live among 150,000 Muslims in the centre of Hebron, the burial place of their common ancestor, Abraham. There is little to choose between their fundamentalist fanaticism. Roni Shaked, who covers the West Bank for the Tel Aviv daily, Yediot Aharonot, predicted this week that the new dividing line in the holy city would be "a wall of hatred". Any hopes of coexistence, he argued, were doomed. "The new reality is only going to widen the gaps between the two societies."

David Wilder, a spokesman for the Hebron settlers, told The Independent: "We are going to create a situation where there will be more than the present 450 Jews in Hebron. Our immediate aim is to prevent the redeployment. If that doesn't work, we will continue to build more buildings and to bring more people to live here."

Asked if they contemplated more violent resistance, Mr Wilder emphasised: "We have no plans to build a private army. We have no plans to go to war against the Israeli army. We have no plans to go to war against the Palestinian police. We do plan to go on living here."

As a foretaste, 20 settlers took over two empty houses in the Hebron casbah early yesterday. The casbah, adjacent to the Jewish enclave, is due to come under Palestinian rule. Mr Arafat's Palestinian Authority intends to house 600 security prisoners there on their release from Israeli jails.

The Jewish squatters, who claimed they were preventing "terrorists" moving in, were evicted after scuffles with Israeli troops. Two Jews were charged with attacking soldiers.

Palestinian militants kept the pot boiling by tossing three petrol bombs at Israeli vehicles - an almost daily irritant during this week of accelerating diplomatic activity. Police arrested five Palestinians, three of them children. No casualties were reported.

Fierce opposition to the Hebron deal is crystallising within Mr Netanyahu's Likud and his partners in the ruling coalition of right-wing and religious parties. Two Likud ministers, Ariel Sharon and Benny Begin, have announced they will vote against it. So have the two ministers of the National Religious Party.

Mr Sharon, a retired general, condemned the deal as "a terrible agreement". After a ministerial briefing on Tuesday night, he said he was "more worried" than ever about the settlers' safety. Mr Begin, son of the Likud's legendary founder, Menachem Begin, is being mentioned as a standard- bearer to challenge Mr Netanyahu for the party leadership.

Yitzhak Shamir, the doctrinaire former Likud prime minister, accused Mr Netanyahu of betraying the party's ideology. "The land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel for ever, without partners," Mr Shamir told the Ma'ariv newspaper yesterday. "The government's willingness to implement the Oslo accords is a fatal error. The notion that decisions of a previous government have to be fulfilled is stupid and malicious."

The Prime Minister's majority is not, however, in doubt in either the 18-member Cabinet or parliament, where he can rely on the support of Labour and the left-wing Meretz for the Hebron agreement.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little