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ANGRY SETTLERS DEFY SOLDIERS TO PROTEST PLO AUTONOMY

SHARE ANGRY SETTLERS DEFY SOLDIERS TO PROTEST PLO AUTONOMY

Dozens of Jewish settlers broke through Israeli army barricades and waded across a river into Jordan Monday to protest increasing Palestinian autonomy on the West Bank.

Two Jordanian army officers looked on but did not interfere.The protesters gave the officers a letter addressed to Jordan's King Hussein, in which they asked for help in preventing the Palestinians from gaining control over more of the Jordan Valley, radio reports said.

The PLO already rules the city of Jericho, which lies in the valley, and they are concerned about a pledge from Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to consider enlarging the Palestinian-ruled enclave.

Most of the demonstrators live in Jordan Valley settlements and claim they would be in danger if more land in the area came under PLO rule.

"We just don't want to live under the guns of Palestinian police," said Ayala Danielli, a 29-year-old date farmer. "Nobody wants to live like that."

The protest began when about 100 settlers marched toward the fence delineating the border between Israel and Jordan.

Israeli soldiers made a halfhearted attempt to stop them, and the settlers pushed the soldiers aside and cut a chain that held a gate shut.

Waving Israeli flags and holding placards, the settlers waded across the shallow Jordan River at a spot where it is about 9 feet wide.

Senior Israeli officers later arrived and angrily ordered the settlers to return. The settlers responded with chants of: "We shall not be moved."

After an hour on the Jordanian side, the group crossed back.

On Thursday, Israel and the PLO signed an accord at the White House outlining a withdrawal of Israeli troops from much of the West Bank and providing for Palestinian elections. The agreement did not address the status of the Jordan Valley.