Jewish settlers protest accord; Netanyahu hails agreement

OFRA, West Bank (AP) — Jewish settlers demonstrated across the West Bank on Sunday, vowing to scuttle a new Mideast peace deal that gives more land to Palestinians.
The protests came hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to Israel, hoping to convince hard-liners that the deal he made with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was the best possible.
Arriving back in Israel to a red-carpet welcome, the Israeli leader said security concessions won from the Palestinians during the nine-day summit outside Washington would justify ceding more West Bank land.
At least 20 settlers — once Netanyahu’s staunchest supporters — were arrested and two police officers were hurt in Sunday’s widespread demonstrations, including one outside Israel’s international airport after Netanyahu’s arrival.
Settler leaders said they would channel their efforts into intense lobbying before Monday’s planned no-confidence motion against Netanyahu.
Near the settlement of Ofra north of Jerusalem, about 50 settlers and their supporters rushed past Israeli police and sat cross-legged on the highway, blocking the route.
Tensions also boiled over in the West Bank town of Ramallah, where infighting broke out among Arafat’s supporters. Members of the Palestinian leader’s political faction, Fatah, battled Palestinian security forces with rocks and bullets. A 16-year-old was shot in the head and killed.
The confrontation broke out after Palestinian intelligence agents searched Fatah headquarters, looking for illegal weapons. A crackdown on unlicensed arms is one of the provisions of the agreement.
The agreement signed at the White House on Friday calls for Israel to hand over 13 percent more of the West Bank to Palestinian civilian control. That means some Jewish settlements will be surrounded by Palestinian-controlled territory, except for access roads.