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Hebron murder emphasizes Arab Jewish disputes

The murder last wek of a Jewish student in the Arab town of Hebron has sparked a debate in Israel over the best way to ensure "coexistence" between Jewish settlers and Palestinina inhabitants of the West Bank.

The resident of Kiryat Arba, 3,000-strong Jewish apartment suburb of Hebron where the murdered man combined military service with religious studies, insist that the government show a "strong hand" toward the Arabs.

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They say that only an expansion of Jewish settlement into the dense Arab downtonw area of Herbron -- into buildings owned by Jews before an Arab massacre in 1929 drove them out -- will convince the Arabs that the Jews are there to stay.

Rabbi Moshe Levinger, the fiery religious leader of Kiryat Arba and follower of the right-wing religious nationalist movement Gush Emunim, which founded the settlement in 1968, has demanded that the goverment take over "all our stolen property and all places where Jews were killed in 1929."

Other Israeli voices have contested this approach. Prominent Labor Party dove Yossi Sarid insisted in a parliamentary debate on Feb. 6 that "such a decision [to expand into downtown Hebron] will cause even more tension between Arabs and Jews" and harm the chances of current Egyptian-Israeli negotiations on Palestinian selfrule.


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