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Sunday, August 1, 1999 Published at 21:29 GMT 22:29 UK

World: Middle East

Settlers condemn Barak peace plan

Hebron has a long history of violence

By Jerusalem Correspondent Hilary Andersson

Several hundred Jewish settlers have condemned Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's plans for peace.

The new government's plans were criticised at a public ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of a massacre of 66 Jews in the town of Hebron.

Middle East
At the solemn gathering of Jewish settlers, prayers were said for the massacre victims.

The event is remembered as one of the first major clashes between Jews and Arabs following the rise of Zionism at the start of the century.

A cycle of violence followed which is still in evidence.

The Jewish settlers of Hebron at the ceremony condemned Mr Barak's plan to forge peace with the Palestinians.

Their opposition to the peace process is rooted in the fear that giving away what they consider to be Jewish land to the Palestinians will leave them exposed to violence.

On both sides, the town of Hebron is particularly scarred.

Arabs remember vividly the day in 1994 when a Jewish gunman killed 29 Palestinians whilst they were praying in a mosque.

It is extremists on both sides who are likely to prove the biggest obstacle to the new Israeli government's plans for peace.

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