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Right-wingers denounce 'sell-out' by Israeli PM

By Eric Silver

The Likud right-wing opposition has denounced Ehud Olmert for selling out Israel's interests without receiving anything in return from the Palestinians.

Zalman Shoval, the head of the party's foreign relations department, said: "This is not really a peace. By agreeing a priori to discuss the core issues – Jerusalem, refugees, borders and settlements – without insisting on the Palestinians first of all breaking up the terrorist infrastructure, he actually gave in to the Arab demands."

Mr Shoval, a former Israeli ambassador to Washington, accused Mahmoud Abbas of reiterating the "ultimate extremist Palestinian demands, especially with regard to Jerusalem", and criticised Mr Olmert for "taking upon Israel at least partial responsibility for the refugee problem".

Earlier, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Likud leader, wrote: "Signing a permanent-status agreement with the weak Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] is like building a multi-storey building without foundations. Sooner or later, this building will collapse on us."

The wider nationalist right is taking to the streets and the internet against any concessions. It is focusing on Jerusalem, where it feels it has the greatest public sympathy. Yehiel Leiter, who heads a campaign against any division of the holy city, said: "In every place that Israel has abandoned, terrorists came in," pointing to developments in Gaza since Israel's withdrawal in 2005.

Settler rabbis decreed that "no leader has the right to give away the Land of Israel", and their hardline chairman, Dov Lior, offered an alternative solution to the conflict. "We must cleanse the country of Arabs and resettle them in the countries where they came from," he said.

Polls suggest the Israeli public at large is pessimistic. A Smith Institute survey found 62 per cent did not believe the Annapolis summit would lead to peace.

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