The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin has produced varying responses in the Arab world-from the public grief of King Hussein to the much more circumspect analyses excerpted hereby prospect / December 20, 1995 / Leave a comment
November 8th 1995
To achieve peace, Israel needs to erase much of its militaristic culture and abandon its biblical dreams. The Arab states do not face so many difficulties in accepting peace, however reluctantly they may be doing it. This is because of the successive defeats they have faced, the lack of international support they have, and the turbulence that is afflicting the Arab countries domestically. The Arabs are therefore settling for what is on offer.
The bigger risk on the Arab side is that moderate critics of the peace process will be turned into extremists because of injustices. The Arabs began to confront their extremists long before the Israelis. Arab extremism is connected not just to the conflict with Israel, but to the socio-economic and cultural problems in the Arab world.
But in Israel’s case, extremism has long been bound up with the system. The settler who killed a Palestinian child in the occupied territories last Friday is no different to the gunman who killed Rabin the following day at the demonstration.
November 8th 1995
Arabs who see the survival of the peace process as dependent on the Israeli Labour party retaining power will have been alarmed by Rabin’s assassination. Their eagerness to ensure that the Labour party remains their interlocutor should not lead them to make extra concessions to “support the forces of peace” in Israel. The Israeli “Left” has used this approach before. There is a risk that Israel will now exploit the fears aroused among those Arabs who have been banking on Labour’s survival.
Labour may choose to capitalise on the wave of sympathy by calling early elections, but even if this happens Peres will not find it easy to retain the leadership. He can be expected to urge his Arab interlocutors to “show more flexibility” to prevent the right-wing Likud from winning, (i.e. make more concessions).
If the cost for the Arabs of keeping Labour in power is to make more concessions to Israel, this raises the question of why they should prefer Labour to Likud in the first place. An acute dilemma faces those Arab parties that are banking on Labour, most especially the Palestinians.
The Jordanians, Egyptians and Palestinians need more than ever before to talk to each other-and preferably Syria and Lebanon too-about the future of the peace process. Strengthening the collective Arab negotiating hand through such co-ordination is…