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Tension high on both sides of West Bank

Israeli military patrol

October 2, 1995
Web posted at: 9:30 a.m. EDT (1330 GMT)

From Reporter Jerrold Kessel

DEHAYSHE REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank (CNN) -- Although smiles and words of good will coursed through Thursday's White House signing of the Mideast accord, tension continues in the West Bank.

Israeli protesters

Israeli settlers in the Jordan Valley whose villages border on Palestinian Jericho staged an angry protest against the self-rule deal (1.24M QT movie). Briefly blocking traffic and clashing with Israeli police (26K WAV sound), they contended Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has betrayed them.

"The security belt for Israel," asserts one man. "That's what he promised the Jordan Valley together with the settlements. No more, according to this agreement."

Palestinian refugees

The protesters were largely mainstream Israelis. Many support Rabin's ruling Labour Party.

The previous day in Hebron, where settlers have declared themselves the deadly opponents of the prime minister's peace strategy, frustration and anger was vented on the property of their Palestinian neighbors.

In another mainstream settlement halfway between Jerusalem and Hebron, the mood was less virulent, somewhat uncertain, as individuals sought to assess what the new map will mean for them.

Some trust their leaders' judgment. "You know," said one woman settler, "I think that Rabin knows what he is doing."

Palestinians tear down barrier

But many feel the changes are ominous. One man said that as the Israeli government pulls out, law and order goes, too. Guns have been placed in the hands of terrorists, he argued (162K AIFF sound or 162K WAV sound).

man worried about terrorism

On the Palestinian side, literally on the other side of the fence, there also is plenty of expectation but of a wholly different sort. Dehayshe Refugee Camp, on the edge of Bethlehem, is home to 10,000 Palestinians. There, implementation of the accord is eagerly awaited. So eagerly in fact that some couldn't wait.

As the signing ceremony was under way in Washington, refugees tried to tear down a fence separating the camp from a main West Bank road. The fence, meant by the Israeli army to deter stone throwers, is seen as a potent symbol of Israel's occupation. The army ensured it stayed up -- for now.

"It should come down without delay now that we have peace," said one Palestinian man. "Peace promises must be kept."

Others take the longer view. "We can't do it right now or the settlers would shoot us," said another man. "But as soon as the army goes from here it will come down."

The landscape of the West Bank is changing dramatically, but many are still not sure precisely how the new contours will take shape.

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