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Thursday, 25 April, 2002, 12:46 GMT 13:46 UK
Zeevi dispute unresolved
Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi
Zeevi's death was a pivotal event in the conflict
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By Sebastian Usher
BBC Middle East Analyst
line
The killing of Rehavam Zeevi last October in a hotel in Jerusalem was one of the key events of the current Middle East conflict.


His death gave him a new kind of legitimacy

Zeevi was a hardline Israeli politician who had advocated the expulsion of the Palestinians from the occupied territories, at one point referring to them as lice that were spreading like cancer.

The day before he was killed, he had resigned from Israel's coalition government in protest at what he saw as a softening of its approach to the Palestinians.

His death gave him a new kind of legitimacy - as he became the first elected Israeli official to be killed by the Palestinians since the founding of the Jewish state.

Blame

The Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, put the full blame for his death on Yasser Arafat. From that moment Israel put the spotlight on Mr Arafat, with Mr Sharon denouncing his Palestinian Authority as a terrorist organisation.

Israel supplied the names of the men they believed had killed Zeevi.

A Palestinian splinter group, the PFLP, had taken responsibility for the killing, saying it was in revenge for Israel's assassination of one of its leaders.

It warned the Palestinian Authority against taking action against the men. But they were arrested and now some kind of a trial has taken place.

Palestinian men look at the rubble left after the Israeli offensive in Jenin
Violence escalated in the wake of Zeevi's assassination
The Palestinians say they have now met one of the key demands of Israel.

But it will not satisfy the Israelis. The Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, has said that, even though an Israeli-Palestinian accord provides for Palestinians accused of crimes to be tried in Palestinian courts, this does not apply when the offence took place in Israel.

In this case, he says, the suspects must be extradited for trial in Israel.

The area where Zeevi was killed is a pocket of Israeli territory in mainly Arab East Jerusalem.

For their part, the Palestinians say that the same accord stipulates that Israel cannot demand the extradition of Palestinians if they are already serving terms in Palestinian jails.

See also:

30 Mar 02 | Middle East
Inside Arafat's compound
25 Apr 02 | Middle East
No breakthrough in Bethlehem talks
24 Apr 02 | Middle East
Mubarak denounces Israel
24 Apr 02 | Middle East
Hamas bans children's 'sacrifices'
21 Apr 02 | Middle East
Palestinians flee Bethlehem church
04 Apr 02 | Middle East
Church with a turbulent history
16 Apr 02 | Middle East
Eyewitness: Inside ruined Jenin
18 Apr 02 | Middle East
Jenin camp 'horrific beyond belief'
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