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Settler Charged Formally in Attack on Palestinian Boy

November 1, 1996

JERUSALEM (AP) _ A Jewish settler was formally charged with manslaughter Friday for allegedly knocking down a Palestinian boy, kicking him and then striking him fatally with the butt of a pistol.

Nachum Korman, chief of security in the Jewish settlement of Hadar-Betar, faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted of killing 11-year-old Hilmi Hawash in the nearby Palestinian village of Husan.

The incident raises new questions about whether Jewish settlers and Palestinians can co-exist as the crucial handover of most of Hebron, the last major Israeli-occupied West Bank town, appears to draw near.

After long and intensive negotiations, Israeli and Palestinian officials have been unable to reach agreement on Hebron’s future, but a U.S. mediator said this week the two sides have resolved most of their differences.

A new survey published by a newspaper Friday indicates that a majority of Israelis believe Hebron’s 450 Jewish settlers and 94,000 Palestinians are unable to live side-by-side. Most also said they would like to see militant Jews removed from the city.

A senior police Israeli police officer told another Israeli newspaper Friday that the militant Jews are plotting to sabotage a troop pullout.

``According to our information, Jewish right-wing radicals are capable of and are planning ... to severely disrupt public order,″ the officer, Yossi Levy, told the Haaretz newspaper.

Seeking an expanded role in the Mideast negotiations, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov spoke with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on Friday. Details of their talks were not released.

Israeli officials told The Associated Press that Russia’s help in reviving stalled peace talks with Syria would be welcome, but Israel wants only U.S. mediation in talks with the Palestinians.

In a sign of the delicacy of the peace process, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government suspended one of its top negotiators with the Palestinians for holding an unauthorized meeting with opposition leader Shimon Peres.

Maj. Gen. Oren Shachor was suspended until the completion of an investigation, defense ministry spokesman Avi Benayahu said. The move highlights Netanyahu’s efforts to control information emerging from the talks.

Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai told the Cabinet Friday ``there cannot be a situation in which an officer meets political figures without my permission.″

A date has not been set for Korman’s trial. Korman denies attacking the boy, saying Hawash fell and hit his head on a rock. He says he had been chasing Hawash because the boy had thrown stones at him and other settlers, and he tried to resuscitate him.

According to Friday’s survey in the Yediot Ahronot daily, 55 percent of 503 respondents said co-existence in Hebron is impossible, while 40 percent said it is possible.

Sixty-two percent said militants among the settlers should be removed from the city, while 34 percent said they should be allowed to remain.

The survey had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Update hourly