Israeli right-wing extremists threaten prime minister Tone of peace talks spurs shift against Netanyahu

November 15, 1996|By CHICAGO TRIBUNE

JERUSALEM -- As peace talks snagged over Israel's expected turnover of Hebron to Palestinian self-rule, opposition to the move within Israel turned nasty yesterday, with right-wing extremists threatening Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A year after Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated for handing over to Arabs lands considered by some Israelis to have been given by God to the Jews in the Bible, graffiti started appearing on Jerusalem walls with new threats by extremist groups such as Kach.

"Bibi [Netanyahu's nickname], you're walking in the footsteps of Yitzhak the traitor. Bibi is dangerous for the Jews -- Kach," said one message scrawled on a wall in the Holy City.

Nearly seven weeks of delays in the talks on Hebron have given time for opposition to the turnover to grow even among strong supporters of Netanyahu.

A group of right-wing Israeli women protested outside his Jerusalem home this week, and Jewish settlers planned a new campaign of demonstrations starting today against the prime minister.

The Habad Movement, a large Hasidic organization that helped Netanyahu garner the ultrareligious vote in May's election by campaigning that he was "good for the Jews," turned against him yesterday.

"We see ourselves cheated in that this government denies its promises made before the elections and continues in the path of the previous government," Habad said in a statement.

"This agreement has no validity within the Torah. We will shatter the Earth in protest against the steps of abandonment of the Jews of Hebron."

Netanyahu abruptly canceled a weeklong speechmaking trip to the United States Wednesday, anticipating a deal on Hebron was imminent, but negotiators failed to clinch an accord as the talks dragged last night.

Pub Date: 11/15/96

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