Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak insisted Sunday that no attack would stop the peace process with the Palestinians despite death threats against him by right-wing Jewish extremists, reported AFP Sunday.
"I have a great deal of respect for those who gave impetus to the settlement of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), and I am certain they will understand that we will not stop a historic peace process because of attacks," Barak told a cabinet meeting, according to a statement from his office, quoted by the agency.
"If political attacks occur, they will have a boomerang effect against those who dreamed and fought for Eretz Israel," or biblical Israel, Barak said.
"Attacks would constitute an end to the legitimacy of the fight led by the settlers," he added.
Communications Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer, a Barak confidante, was quoted by AFP as warning Sunday of a possible assassination attempt, saying: "There is no doubt that the prime minister is in the firing line of extremists."
According to the agency, radical Jewish groups are virulently opposed to the transfer to the Palestinians of Israeli-controlled areas of the West Bank, which they consider part of the biblical lands of Israel.
Some have accused Barak of treason, saying he wanted to dismantle Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories.
Barak's mentor, prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, was slain by a Jewish extremist in November 1995 following a violent hate campaign by the far-right who branded him a traitor for the land for peace deals with the Palestinians.
Barak on Sunday called on the heads of the Settlers Council in the West Bank and Gaza and on settlers' spiritual leaders to "show their authority and denounce in a clear way the statements that have recently been made," AFP reported.
The council responded with a statement "firmly condemning the recourse to violence in the campaign against the Barak government." But the council called on the prime minister to "show responsibility and avoid taking decisions that divide the people and threaten the country."
ISRAEL AND PALESTINIANS RESUME PERMANENT STATUS TALKS
Israel and the Palestinians resumed their talks on a permanent peace treaty, a Palestinian official said Saturday.
The meeting took place Thursday night and early Friday morning said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He refused to say where it was held, reported the Associated Press.
The negotiations, which were previously being held in the Swedish capital Stockholm, were moved to an undisclosed location, presumed to be in Israel or the Palestinian areas.
Taking part were the speaker of the Palestinian parliament, Ahmed Qureia, and Israeli Public Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami.
The discussions are aimed at achieving a framework for the final status agreement between the two sides. On the agenda are the thorniest issues, such as the permanent borders, the future of the Palestinian refugees and control of Jerusalem. Little progress has been made on these issues in six months of talks, said AP – (Several Sources)
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