More than 100,000 Israelis Attend Right-Wing Demonstration against Summit
Chanting, "The country must not be lost," at least 100,000 Israeli right-wing protesters massed in Tel Aviv on Sunday to send a strong and personal message to Prime Minister Ehud Barak that his people won't accept broad concessions to the Palestinians, reported The Associated Press.
"We are the majority, and the majority will win!" shouted many of those crowded into Rabin Square, the site where the late prime minister was assassinated in 1995 and where large protests are often held, said the agency.
Much of the crowd, estimated at 150,000, had come by bus from settlements in the West Bank, from homes they fear they might lose in a final peace agreement with the Palestinians. Others were members of the opposition Likud party or other right-wing parties.
"We have come here to say to Barak that he cannot sign away everything," said Nili Gerber, 46, from Mevasseret, a suburb of Jerusalem. She wore a sticker on her chest saying, "We are the majority."
Some wore T-shirts saying: "Jerusalem is one." Others held banners that attacked the prime minister personally: "The nation has decided," one said. "Barak is dangerous to Jews."
Issues of territorial compromise, especially the question of Jerusalem, are key stumbling blocks in the talks between Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat at Camp David, which in their sixth day were being described by all sides as extremely difficult.
Likud leader Ariel Sharon stepped up his harsh attacks on Barak, reported Haaretz newspaper.
"Before us, to my regret, and I say it with sorrow, is a prime minister who threatens his people with terrorism, with war, with an Intefada, and enlists world leaders, ministers and political activists to join in his threats," Sharon said.
It was Sharon who brought a motion of no-confidence in Barak to parliament last Monday, the day the prime minister left for Camp David - a motion that Barak barely survived, said the paper.
Barak has said he is willing to cede settlements in highly populated Palestinian areas of the West Bank as part of a peace agreement. The Palestinians seek to establish an independent state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Close to 200,000 Jewish settlers have moved to the West Bank, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, since Israel occupied the area from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war.
Earlier Sunday, security forces evacuated some 30 young Jewish settlers from a renegade outpost in the West Bank they'd set up to protest possible Israeli concessions to the Palestinians at the Camp David summit.
Soldiers and policemen dragged off young women linked arm-in-arm. The defiant settlers sang Israel's national anthem as they were taken away, said Haaretz.
In the West Bank city of Nablus, some 1,000 Palestinians held a rally calling on Arafat not to make concessions to Israel at Camp David.
"We came here because we know that the Palestinian side is under pressure at Camp David, and we want to say that any concession by the Palestinian side does not represent us and we will reject it," Jamal Saleem, a member of the Hamas leadership in Nablus told the paper.
Elsewhere in the West Bank, four Israeli buses on their way to pick up settlers for the right-wing demonstration took a wrong turn into a Palestinian refugee camp north of Jerusalem. Young Palestinians threw rocks and iron bars at them and set them on fire. The drivers were beaten and robbed but escaped with minor injuries, said Reuters.
The army sealed off the main southern entrance to Ramallah and sent troops into the camp, the army spokesman said. A crowd of about 150 stoned the soldiers, who responded with stun grenades, a military source said, but no injuries were reported, the agency said - (Several Sources)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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