From hate, killing to peace, sharing

September 10, 1993|By Michael Parks | Michael Parks,Los Angeles Times

JERUSALEM -- After a century of hostility and wars that have taken thousands upon thousands of lives, the agreements reached yesterday by Israelis and Palestinians represent fundamental changes that address the central issue of how the two peoples see themselves and their futures.

The changes lay the foundation for a Palestinian state next to Israel, a sharing of the land and its natural resources that each has claimed as its own. More than that, they envision not just coexistence but cooperation. And they offer a pledge to live in peace with an enemy that each had seen as a threat to its very existence; with the PLO now promising to fight the terrorism it had long fostered, they renounce the use of force that has made violence endemic to the region.

The changes effectively settle the core of the Middle East conflict: the Arabs' refusal to accept Israel in their midst, which stemmed primarily from the dispossession of the Palestinians during the creation of the Jewish state.

Now, in recognizing the Palestine Liberation Organization as the representative of the Palestinian people, Israel also recognizes the Palestinians as a nation and acknowledges their right to self-determination.

The PLO similarly is accepting the legitimacy of the Jewish state that it had originally pledged to destroy, abandoning the armed struggle that Palestinians had waged for three decades as "the only way to liberate Palestine."

"I thought in my heart not only about the great revolution that has occurred among us, but also about the great revolution that has taken place within the PLO," Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told members of the Israeli parliament from his Labor Party. "Don't make little of that. We are not recognizing the PLO of yesterday, but rather the PLO of today."

"Our hearts sing with hope today," said Palestinian poet Sami Kilani, a proponent of dialogue with Israelis and a member of the Palestinian delegation to the Arab-Israeli negotiations. "Peace is close, very close. We are leaving so many decades, generations really, of war behind.

"We have finally come to recognize that neither side will have peace and tranquility if it denies this to the other, that neither of us will establish our legitimacy by killing the other, that security comes from mutual acceptance."

Yet, minorities of ardent nationalists on both sides already are rejecting the compromises required to reach the accord and are threatening those who made them.

"Peace is not made with friends," Mr. Rabin told members of his Labor Party yesterday. "It is made with enemies who are not at all nice. I will not try to beautify the PLO. It has been our enemy, and it is still our enemy, but negotiations are carried out with enemies."

Faisal Husseini, head of the Palestinian team in the negotiations, told a meeting this week: "We cannot forget our martyrs, and we should not. But what can we do to ensure that there are no more martyrs? What will it take to end the killing, what should we do now to achieve our national goals? These are the questions we must answer."

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