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Resistance to peace plan builds

Palestinians and Israelis alike, even Prime Minister Ehud Barak, are backing away from the Clinton proposal.

As Israelis and Palestinians examine how the broad outlines of President Clinton's unwritten peace proposal might actually look on the ground, widespread opposition is emerging in both communities. With each passing day, new voices are added to the chorus of protest.

Even the plan's increasingly lonely chief advocate, Prime Minister Ehud Barak, appears to be backing away from the central tenet of the proposal _ that the Palestinians be granted sovereignty over the Muslim holy site known as Haram al-Sharif that sits atop the Temple Mount, which is sacred to Jews, in exchange for Palestinians giving up claims for their refugees' right to return to Israel.

Israel would have sovereignty over the lower part of the man-made mound that contains the Western Wall, believed to be the remains of the Second Temple.

Significantly, the Israeli military has added its influential voice to the protests against the plan, taking particular issue with the proposal to abandon the Jordan Valley.

And on Saturday, Fatah, Yasser Arafat's organization, marked its 36th anniversary by issuing a strong statement reiterating "total rejection of the American ideas, which are originally an Israeli plan for a settlement that aims to cancel our national rights based on international law."

Despite the increasingly stark and opposing stances staked out by each side on the central issues, negotiations are continuing behind the scenes, and no one has yet expressly dismissed the idea of reaching an accord, perhaps even during the waning days of Clinton's presidency.

In Washington, officials are not giving up on the peace process. A senior Clinton administration official said Saturday that the White House was still waiting to hear from Arafat.

"We have a yes in principle, with reservations, from the Israelis," the official said. "The Palestinians are going through their own internal process, which is always a long one."

Arafat, however, is under enormous pressure from virtually the entire spectrum of Palestinian opinion and organizations to reject the U.S. proposals.

Soldiers kill stone-thrower

FATIMA GATE, Lebanon _ Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Lebanese man who was throwing stones Saturday at an Israeli outpost across a fence, the first killing at the often-tense former border crossing, Lebanese security officials said.

Hilal Ahmed Haj, 21, died instantly when he was hit in the head by two bullets fired from a passing Israeli patrol at the Fatima Gate border fence, the officials said.

The officials said Haj was among a group of Lebanese throwing stones at the Israeli outpost, which stands about 10 yards behind the border fence. Stone-throwing and gunfire at the Fatima Gate area have injured several people since Israel withdrew its troops from southern Lebanon in May.

In Jerusalem, the Israeli army said its forces shot at a Lebanese who was climbing a ladder in an attempt to cross the border. The army statement said full deployment of U.N. and Lebanese army forces would help prevent such incidents.

Haj was a member of an Islamic scout group affiliated with Amal, a Syrian-backed guerrilla group that fought Israeli troops in south Lebanon, Amal leader and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said on local television.

Lebanese President Emile Lahoud has instructed the Foreign Ministry to file a complaint against Israel with the United Nations to protest Haj's death and the wounding of five Lebanese by Israeli gunfire this week, Lebanon's state-run television station reported late Saturday.

Many in Jordan decry deal

AMMAN, Jordan _ Jordan's monarch may favor President Clinton's peace initiatives for the Middle East, but many of the kingdom's predominantly Palestinian subjects say his latest proposal caters only to Israel.

"Any U.S.-brokered deal will cost the Palestinians dearly because the U.S. only cares about Israel," said Eid Abu-Taha, a 37-year-old technician puffing on a traditional water pipe at a coffee shop in downtown Amman.

"Arab interests are nonexistent in the American dictionary."

The mass circulation al-Ra'i newspaper said of the the proposals Saturday: "The indications and the facts confirm that the American proposals _ unannounced, mysterious and secretive as they are _ had reached a dead end."