Yitzhak Rabin
Making History
We say to you today in a loud and clear voice: enough blood and tears, enough.” - Yitzhak Rabin
Rabin speaking at the signing of Oslo II

ROAD TO OSLO - Even as Yitzhak Rabin basked in the successes of the Jordanian peace treaty, an even greater struggle had been going on behind the scenes. The issue of peace with the Palestinians was one far too explosive to even slightly broach to the public. In secret, however, Rabin and Shimon Peres had ordered teams of Israeli negotiators to meet with Palestinian representatives in London and the Norwegian capitol Oslo. This series of covert meetings went on for several months, mixing blunt failures with encouraging successes. Though the negotiations were made painfully arduous by obstinance on both sides, Rabin’s fierce determination to forge a lasting agreement paid off with the Declaration of Principles, signed on September 10, 1993. It was the first formal agreement with the Palestinians ; among other things, it called for immediate transfer of limited self-rule powers along with pullout of Israeli forces from the cities of Gaza and Jericho. The world barely had time to react to the news before Rabin flew to Washington D.C. to seal the agreement with Yasser Arafat, chairman of the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] and de facto Palestinian leader. As U.S. President Bill Clinton watched, the two leaders joined in a handshake that instantly rewrote decades of history in the Middle East.

Rabin, Clinton, and Arafat showcasing the Seeds of Peace program
Rabin was encouraged by the success of this and the simultaneous negotiations with Jordan. Despite the talks’ promise, however, Israeli conservatives attacked the Oslo accords’ tenet of exchanging land for peace, arguing that sacred Israeli territory must remain inviolate. Rabin nevertheless barged through heavy opposition to finalize a second agreement with the PLO, dubbed Oslo II, which further expanded on the breakthroughs of the first treaty. This time, Arafat and Rabin signed off on the lawn of the White House, on September 28, 1995. Across the Middle East, the shouts of those who opposed the peace process were overwhelmed by the visible changes of the leaders’ initiatives. Arab countries such as Morocco, Tunesia, Qatar, and Oman all broke decades of isolation to open official ties with Israel. The possibility of Israeli and Palestinian coexistence singlehandedly revolutionized the entire region overnight, culminating in an area economic summit in Jordan during October 1995. Countries and peoples who had lived in wary unease for years now came together to discuss the economic revitalization of the Middle East. Rabin and his partners in peace had accomplished no small feat – and it would not go unnoticed.
Yitzhak Rabin