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Jewish Settlers Heckle Jordanians

October 9, 1999

HEBRON, West Bank (AP) _ Jewish settlers in Hebron heckled visiting Jordanian legislators Saturday and banged their fists on the car of the nation’s parliament speaker.

In response, Palestinian residents scuffled with the settlers and then with Israeli soldiers and police. Three Palestinians were detained for questioning.

The incident took place outside the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a shrine sacred to Muslims and Jews and the site of a 1994 massacre of 29 Muslim worshippers by a settler.

``I am very angry,″ Jordanian Parliament Speaker Abdel Hadi Majali said after the confrontation. ``Our trust in the peace process has been shaken by this incident.″

The group of 20 legislators was finishing a four-day visit to the West Bank, and Hebron was the last stop. They had planned to pray at the tomb, but turned back when they were asked by Israeli troops to pass through metal detectors, which were installed for security after the massacre.

As the legislators turned away, they were heckled by 15 settlers who chanted in Arabic ``Abu Jihad is dead.″ Abu Jihad was the PLO military chief who was assassinated in 1988 in an operation widely attributed to Israel.

Israeli soldiers pushed the settlers away, and Majali’s bodyguards rushed him into his car. Several settlers followed Majali, surrounded the vehicle and banged on it with their fists.

Majali later said be believed the settlers targeted his group because they didn’t like the close relationship between Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

Hebron is home to 130,000 Palestinians and 450 Jewish settlers who live in several closely guarded compounds in the center of the city. There are frequent scuffles between settlers and Palestinian residents.

In Jordan’s capital, Amman, Jordanian Minister of Information Ayman Majali _ the parliament speaker’s cousin _ denounced the attack. He urged Israel to take measures against those involved to halt such ``provocative acts which reflect the anti-peace extremist mentality of the settlers.″

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