- CRITTER TALK
In 1990, Arafat and leading Fatah officials engaged the Israeli government in a series of secret negotiations that led to the 1993 Oslo Accords. The agreement called for the implementation of Palestinian self-rule in portions of the West Bank and Gaza Strip over a five year period, along with an immediate halt to and gradual removal of Israeli settlements in those areas.
The accords called for a Palestinian police force to be formed from local recruits and Palestinians abroad, to patrol areas of self-rule. Authority over the various fields of rule, including education and culture, social welfare, direct taxation and tourism, would be transferred to the Palestinian interim government. Both parties agreed also on forming a committee that would establish cooperation and coordination dealing with specific economic sectors, including utilities, industry, trade and communication.
Prior to signing the accords, Arafat – as Chairman of the PLO and its official representative—signed two letters renouncing violence and officially recognizing Israel. In return, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, on behalf of Israel, officially recognized the PLO.
The following year, Arafat and Rabin were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. Nobel officials in Oslo asked Arafat, very politely, to remove his sidearm, a .357 magnum, before accepting the prize. Which he did.
It seems the Nobel Committee sometimes hand out the Peace Prize for effort. The efforts of the 1994 trio of winners didn’t come to much. In 2009, a surprised world witnessed the new U.S. president, Barack Obama accepting the prestigious prize, while two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were very much, not over. But, his first major speech as president was in a major Muslim country, in Cairo, Egypt. Something that could not have happened in the previous eight years. Obama’s speech was seen by many as reaching out to Muslims everywhere, or if you are a republican, appeasement. They regarded Arafat as being to the left of Genghis Khan.