Eight months following the Declaration of Principles concluded in
Oslo between the P.L.O. and Israel, and signed (in a festive
atmosphere) in Washington on September 13th, 1993, the two parties
agreed to start with the Gaza-Jericho first scheme. This in effect
leaves the door wide open for the resumption of the negotiations
concerning an early transfer of authority in the West Bank in at
least six spheres of administration and power.
This event obviously raises great hopes, but it also leaves us
assailed by many doubts and fears: if negotiations about
Gaza-Jericho first have lasted so long, what will happen in the
case of the West Bank as a whole? Will the negotiations last seven
months? Or will they stretch over several years? And if so, what
will both parties do vis-a-vis the growing opposition to the
political process, and in face of the ever-mounting waves of
violence and the increasing number of victims on both sides?
There can be no doubt about the sincerity of Arafat's or Rabin's
good intentions. Both of them want to achieve peace and both of
them have made promises to their respective people. Furthermore,
they both have placed their own political survival, as well as that
of their respective parties, on the stake. Finally, both of them
are facing increasing opposition from elements out to scuttle the
Will Arafat and Rabin succeed in realizing their hopes and
delivering whatever they have promised to their people? And will
they be able to foil the plans of those who are actively trying to
undermine the peace process?
It is not enough to wish something to happen, but hard work is
imperative in order to realize our wishes. The gap between
intentions and their concretization is vast, indeed, and cannot be
bridged merely with words.
What is needed is the courage and vision to make bold, historical,
albeit painful decisions to attain the desired aim. The
implementation of peace does not only necessitate, but also
deserves the taking of risks. Indeed, the attempts to achieve peace
require much more courage than the decision to go to war.
Only when such courage exists, and the right decisions are taken at
the fight time, then, and only then, can peace become a reality on
the ground. The two peoples (Palestinians and Israelis) will thus
be able to savor and staunchly defend the peace to which they have
always aspired, thus spelling the defeat of the opposition and
rallying the masses around the peace-makers.
Hence, the political survival of both Rabin and Arafat, together
with their respective constituencies depends to a great extent on
the success of the peace process and the opening of new horizons
for co-existence and the promotion of cooperation and development
in the region. Undoubtedly, the peace we all aspire to is a just
and comprehensive one that will put an end to the state of war
among all the nations of the region and herald a new era of
co-existence and cooperation, not only between Israel and
Palestine, but amongst all the nations of the region.
Prime Minister Rabin's statements about his readiness to remove
settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights have rekindled
our hope that real peace is imminent, and that the leaders of the
region have effectively started to move toward its
Let us then support all those who are striving for a just peace, to
put an end to bloodshed and destruction, and channel our efforts
towards construction, development and extricating the Middle East
from the vicious circle of conflict, hostility and arms race. But
neither a comprehensive peace, nor the development and prosperity
emanating from such a peace, will suffice without a halt to the
arms race and the inspection and verification of both conventional
and non-conventional weapons of mass destruction; this is
imperative within the framework of peace and as a preliminary step
to realize the vision of beating swords into ploughshares.