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Israel's Finance Minister Netanyahu attacked

Friday, February 11, 2005

Israel's Finance Minister Netanyahu attacked

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was violently attacked at a wedding party by people who oppose a Gaza withdrawal plan, Israeli media reported Friday.

Netanyahu was not injured in the attack.

Netanyahu - a hard-liner - has voted in parliament and Cabinet in favour of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw from all Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements by the end of this year.

Some extremist Jews have pledged to oppose the "disengagement'' plan even at the cost of going to prison, and threats of violence have been made against Sharon and other Cabinet ministers who support the pullout.

According to media reports and a rabbi who was updated with details from the incident, Netanyahu arrived at the wedding late Thursday and was verbally and physically attacked by a group of extremist youths.

The youths threw unidentified objects at the former prime minister and slashed the tires of his armored car, media reported. The group also shouted slurs at the minister.

Earlier in the week, Education Minister Limor Livnat was also assaulted by a group of extremists who oppose the pullout plan.

The Israeli newspaper Maariv quoted Netanyahu after Thursday's incident as saying that although he understands the pain of those who oppose the plan "there is no room for violence in the public argument.'' - AP

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