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Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen
These people do not want to pay the price
 real 28k

The BBC's Hilary Andersson reports
"The protesters' message was fierce opposition to any prospect of handing back the Golan"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 11 January, 2000, 01:27 GMT
Israelis protest at talks
Tel Aviv demonstration
Polls show less that half the population would back a Golan withdrawal
More than 100,000 Israelis have demonstrated in Tel Aviv against any withdrawal from the Golan Heights under any peace deal with Syria.

Middle East
The protest came as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak headed home after failing to make substantive progress in talks with the Syrians in the United States.

The demonstrators voiced fierce opposition to Mr Barak's attempts to forge a land-for-peace deal.

Many had travelled from the Golan Heights to attend the rally. They carried banners saying: "The people are with the Golan" and "We will not leave the Golan".

If we give back the Golan, there will also be a war, and it will be bloodier and costlier than any other war in our history

Meir Dagan, former government adviser on terrorism

The protesters gathered in Rabin Square - where former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated for trying to make peace with the Palestinians.

Two of Mr Barak's ministers and several high-ranking military officers joined the demonstrators.

'100 years of terrorism'

The former government adviser on terrorism, Meir Dagan, warned that an Israeli withdrawal of the Golan would bring "100 years of terrorism" to Israel.

Tel Aviv demonstrations
Israel could be heading towards another political fracture

Countering Mr Barak's previous claim that failure to make peace with Israel would result in a war, Mr Dagan told the crowd: "If we give back the Golan, there will also be a war, and it will be bloodier and costlier than any other war in our history."

The rally is part of a growing stream of protests against the territorial concessions necessary for a peace deal with Syria.

Latest opinion polls show that less than half the Israeli population would back a withdrawal from the Golan. Mr Barak has pledged to put any agreement to a national referendum.

'On track'

The rally came as US President Bill Clinton said Israel and Syria had agreed to try to resolve their differences over the next two months following a week of negotiations in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Tel Aviv demonstrations
The demonstrations had a carnival-like atmosphere

"We are on a track ... to work through these very difficult long-standing issues over the course of the next two months," he said.

The basic shape of a deal - in which Israel would surrender almost all of the Golan, which it occupied in 1967, in return for security guarantees - has been clear for some time.

But the peace talks between the two sides broke up on Monday without any agreement on new borders or any other major elements of a land-for-peace treaty, despite rigorous US mediation.

In Israel, Foreign Minister David Levy struck a cautious note over the talks.

Key conditions for peace deal
Israeli withdrawal from the Golan
Syrian security guarantees
Access to water resources
Normal, peaceful relations

"We did not reach an agreement ... we did not even get near," he said.

"We began a discussion. I believe it will continue. The sides will make efforts, with a consciousness that peace will serve both sides and the entire region," he said.

The US State Department has said it expects the talks to resume on 19 January.

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See also:

11 Jan 00 |  Middle East
Washington's 'roadmap' to peace
10 Jan 00 |  Media reports
Media optimistic over Mid-East talks
10 Jan 00 |  Middle East
Washington's push for peace
09 Jan 00 |  Media reports
Peace talks media review
09 Jan 00 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Water wars and peace
03 Jan 00 |  Middle East
Analysis: Golan the key
05 Jan 00 |  Middle East
The Golan: Territory and security
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