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Land for No Peace

- Abstract

The Israel-PLO accord was supposed to bring on the new dawn of peace that optimists contended could be Israel’s for the asking. Many Israelis, fatigued by decades of securing the land and themselves against Arab threats, military and terrorist, had come to regard the status quo as unbearable. Perhaps, they speculated, Palestinian-Arab leadership had evolved away from ideological anti-Zionism toward a pragmatic willingness to share the land with the Jewish state in peace. After the Soviet Union’s collapse and the American-led attack on Iraq, Israel’s strategic strength and Yasir Arafat’s political and economic weakness combined to make Israeli officials think they could test that hopeful proposition without undue risk.

The accord comprised, first, the Declaration of Principles (DOP), which was concluded on August 20, 1993 and signed by Arafat and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at the White House on September 13, 1993; and, second, the mutual-recognition agreement embodied in the letters dated September 9, 1993 exchanged by Arafat, Rabin, and the Norwegian Foreign Minister. No one can doubt that these agreements are significant; but what exactly do they signify?

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