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Saturday, October 24, 1998 Published at 04:44 GMT 05:44 UK

Reaction: Peace, surrender or war

Yasser Arafat and Benjamin Netanyahu - both will face opposition at home

The leader of the Palestinian Islamic movement, Hamas, has rejected the Middle East peace accord and vowed to continue the fight against Israel.

Jeremy Bowen in the West Bank: "Real peace is still a long way off"
Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said: "Any agreement that does not lead to theremoval of occupation from all the Palestinian occupied territory and to granting our people their rights, freedom and independence is worthless and pointless."

"Hamas will remain alive," he added. "God willing, it will remain the pioneer and the spearhead for the Arab and Muslim nations to liberate Palestine, Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem."

Some optimism

His comments, however, did not shake the opinion of Israeli President Ezer Weizman who hailed the land-for-peace deal, saying it was good for all concerned.

"This accord will bring peace between us and the Palestinians," he told Israeli public radio.

"It will not harm Israel's vital interests."

But a senior Palestinian politician, Hanan Ashrawi, said she had serious doubts about Israeli implementation of the peace deal.

"Any agreement that is confined to the constraints of the parameters set by the Americans for the Wye Plantation talks are certainly not a comprehensive agreement, certainly not a substantive agreement, and would not appeal to the needs, nor the requirements, nor the expectations of the Palestinians," she said.

Hardliners worried

Jewish settlers in the West Bank and hardliners in Mr Netanyahu's coalition government responded angrily to the agreement, saying it amounts to treason and surrender.

Michael Kleiner of the Gesher party said it was a black day for Israel.

"It is a surrender. We gave land, we did not get peace, we got promises we got words we even did not get reciprocity", he said.

He predicted the deal would be rejected either within the Cabinet or in the Israeli parliament.

[ image: Jewish settlers oppose the deal]
Jewish settlers oppose the deal
Aharon Domb, head of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip said: "This agreement will have the most serious repercussions in the national camp."

Mr Domb travelled to the Wye River summit in Maryland, in the United States, this week in an effort to convince Mr Netanyahu not to sign an agreement.

Back in Israel, settlers staged a protest against the accord. Their leaders described the plan for the handover of further territory to the Palestinians as a "death sentence" for Israelis living in the occupied West Bank.

Safety net for Netanyahu

Israel's main opposition Labour party said it would spread a "safety net" under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for two weeks.

Eli Goldschmidt, Labour's chief parliamentary whip, said the prime minister had nothing to fear from an ultra-nationalist opposition party's no-confidence motion due to be heard in the Knesset on Monday.

"We will not bring down the government in this no-confidence vote or in other such votes during a period of two weeks," Mr Goldschmidt told Israel Radio.

"[But] if we see the deal is not implemented properly, we will do our duty as the opposition and do everything to bring down the government," he said.

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