"Jewish terrorist" stirs fear of Israeli radicals
* "Jewish terrorist" revives fears of internal strife
* Police say U.S. immigrant confessed to killings, attacks
* Even lone killer could spark war
By Ori Lewis and Alastair Macdonald
JERUSALEM, Nov 3 (Reuters) - A self-confessed killer dubbed "The Jewish Terrorist" has shown how far settlers may go to stop Israel trading land for peace with Palestinians and the risks even lone attackers can pose to stability in a tinderbox region.
So concluded many Israelis as media devoted much of their newsprint and airtime this week to the arrest of Yaakov "Jack" Tytell, an American immigrant to a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. Police said he had admitted killing two Arabs a decade ago and more recent attacks on Israeli leftists.
Analysts were quick to compare him to the right-wing Jew, angry at peace deals with the Palestinians, who assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin 14 years ago this week. The jailed killer Yigal Amir remains a hero to thousands on the Israeli right. Many on the left believe hopes of peace died with Rabin.
Newspapers, most of which devoted numerous pages to Tytell, also recalled Baruch Goldstein, the settler physician from New York who shot nearly 200 Arab worshippers at a Hebron mosque in 1995, killing 29 of them -- an act swiftly followed by Palestinian suicide bombings and other attacks in Israel.
Former Israeli secret service agents warned of a "Jewish Underground", dormant and ready, out in the wilder edges of the West Bank hilltops, that has the weaponry to make good on hardliners' threats to resist with violence any move by Israel's government to end its 41 years of military occupation, or even to evict settlers from some of their fringe "outposts".
And Menachem Landow, a former head of the Shin Bet security service's Jewish Division which combatted underground settler cells behind bombings in the 1980s, said even loners threatened national security, either by posing a risk to leaders like Rabin or by provoking Arab attacks, like Goldstein and others.
"The Shin Bet gets involved the moment the threat is to national security," Landow said. "The priority is to prevent murders, but clearly there is a secondary drive -- to prevent escalation ... It can trigger a revolution."
Leaders of the half-million settlers, who are at the heart of arguments among Israel, the Palestinians and Washington that have held up peace talks, distanced themselves from Tytell, a 37-year-old father-of-four. His lawyer was quoted saying he was not responsible for actions he saw as a "mission from God".
Police were forced to explain why it took them 12 years to find the alleged killer of a Palestinian shepherd and of an Arab Jerusalem taxi driver but only months to arrest the same man after he wounded an Israeli professor with a pipe bomb -- the hunt was complicated because Tytell was a loner, police said.
But a former head of the Shin Bet, whose agents helped police arrest Tytell last month, said that while Tytell may have acted alone he was far from unique among settlers: "This is the soil where this grows," Ami Ayalon said.
Several unsolved murders of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have led Shin Bet officers to assume the existence of Jewish killers, security sources say. But they are unsure how far they are connected or politically driven.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing coalition, elected this year, includes a foreign minister who is himself a settler and another senior cabinet member lately caught on camera calling Israel's main anti-settlement group a "virus".
Yet even Netanyahu has faced virulent criticism from some settlers, who account for about 8 percent of Israeli Jews, for even modest gestures of "restraint" on settlement expansion he has offered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas -- gestures that U.S. President Barack Obama says do not go far enough.
Netanyahu, however, highlights the strength of opinion among settlers as a limit on what concessions he can offer -- even when many among the majority of Israelis who do not live on occupied land express little sympathy for hardline colonists.
Aware of the potential backlash, settler leader Danny Dayan said: "Any person of conscience ... must rise up in indignation against such acts -- and against any despicable attempt to use them to gain political capital by blaming an entire community."
Aside from the 1990s murders of Arabs committed when he was a tourist, Tytell is also accused of injuring a leading Israeli left-winger, Zeev Sternhell, an outspoken critic of settlers last year by planting a pipe bomb at his Jerusalem home. (Additional reporting by Dan Williams; Editing by Dominic Evans)
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