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Hebron: the heart of the problem
[Daily Edition]
Jerusalem Post - Jerusalem
Author: NEILL LOCHERY
Date: Jan 2, 2003
Start Page: 09
Section: Opinion
Abstract (Document Summary)

In 2002, any grounds for optimism had evaporated. Attitudes have hardened on both sides (and both sides were already pretty hard- nosed in 1994). To say there is real hatred on the streets of Hebron does not really suffice. It is difficult to find any local Palestinian who does not, at least tacitly, support the recent ambush by members of Islamic Jihad on Israeli forces that led to the IDF's single biggest loss of life during the current war. In response, Israeli soldiers patrol the areas that remain under Israeli military control with a sense of urgency; magazines loaded in their automatic weapons and with fingers poised to take off safety catches. Every trip the settlers take out of their centrally based compound is planned and executed with precision.

The Hebron Accord negotiated by the government of Binyamin Netanyahu and signed in 1997 disappointed all sides. As a result of this flawed agreement Israel did not evacuate the settlements in Hebron, nor did the Palestinians accept their continued presence. The truth is that Hebron is so important to both peoples that there is no middle ground. The document that Netanyahu signed with Yasser Arafat was little more than a reflection of the arm- twisting abilities of president Bill Clinton, rather than any realistic attempt to solve the problem.

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