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Hardliners Skeptical Of Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned home from a Washington summit on Tuesday to a threat that hardliners will topple him if he closes a peace deal with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

Israeli headlines likened President Clinton's planned follow-up summit in October to the historic 1978 Camp David talks between Israel and Egypt but doubted the sides in the current conflict could muster the same trust to seal an accord.

Mr. Clinton, who had another meeting scheduled with Arafat at the White House on Tuesday, hopes to end a 19-month deadlock with agreement for Israel to withdraw from another 13 percent of the West Bank in return for Palestinian security guarantees.

CBS News Correspondent Jesse Schulman reports that the key stumbling blocks continue to be land and security. It appears that the Israelis agreed to pull out from thirteen percent of the West Bank -- the Palestinians' minimum condition.

"We say no," said Hanan Porat, a lawmaker from Israel's National Religious Party, a partner in Netanyahu's government that champions Jewish settlement of the West Bank.

Porat, head of the legislative Laws Committee considering a bill to dissolve parliament, predicted on Israeli army radio that he could garner the 61 votes required in the 120-member Knesset to bring down Netanyahu.

"If the government decides on this withdrawal, which means giving Arafat a Palestinian state on a silver platter, we won't be able to be partners to this government and this means there will be early elections," Porat said.

However, conventional wisdom is that Netanyahu's government would probably survive a vote on a peace deal itself with a "parliamentary safety net" provided by the opposition Labor party that launched peace moves with Arafat in 1993.

In addition, Netanyahu's coalition partners may be reluctant to risk a new election -- which could cause them to lose the important cabinet seats -- and ministry budgets -- they currently hold.

But Labor and disaffected Netanyahu backers could conspire to oust him on any other parliamentary issue. Netanyahu signaled this month that he could call an early election if his coalition opposed him on a deal.

Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai said Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and special envoy Dennis Ross could begin forging a package of deals during October talks in the Middle East that would be capped by a summit in the Washington area.

"During the visit of Albright and Ross here, it will surely be possible to reach a package of deals in a number of areas," Mordechai told Israel Radio.