September 27, 1995
Web posted at: 11:30 p.m. EDT (0330 GMT)
From Correspondent Jerrold Kessel
KFAR SABA, Israel (CNN) -- In an amiable mood, Prime Minister Rabin and Foreign Minister Peres set off for the White House Wednesday to sign a new peace agreement. "It's a present to peace. It's a present to a world tired of wars and tired of failures," Peres said.
The Israeli cabinet gave Rabin and Peres full marks and, with only two of the 18 ministers abstaining, solid support for an agreement seen as a historic turning point in Israel's relations with the Palestinians.
"This signals an irreversible process," said Israeli Education Minister Amnon Rubinstein. "This is, first of all, the end of greater Israel. It's the beginning of a partition of historical Palestine and separation between Israel as a Jewish state."
With Israel pulling its troops out, it will be the beginning of the end of the 28-year Israeli occupation of the West Bank. The move will nurture Palestinian hopes that, down the road, they can reach their ultimate objective: a full-fledged state. It will also mean an effective re-division of the land, making towns frontier towns again.
The people of Kfar Saba, 15 miles outside of Tel Aviv, provide as middling a view of Israel as you're liable to get anywhere, even though their town lies just two miles from neighboring Palestinian Kalkilya.
Yasser Arafat's police will soon replace Israeli troops in Kalkilya. "I'm not sure it's OK," said a resident of Kfar Saba. "But I want to give him (Arafat) a chance, OK. I don't want war. I don't want blood, more blood. It's enough."
Another said, "I don't see that there is going to be peace. It's going to be a divided country, a country for the Israelis and a country for the Palestinians, but it's not going to be peace."
Others are hopeful, but wary. "I want peace. I would like to live near Arabs and (be) friends with them, but on the other side, I'm afraid." said one. Another: "I think it's a calculated risk. But I'm ready. Not enthusiastically, but I'm ready."
Unlike fringe Israelis settled in the West Bank, who view any withdrawal as a betrayal, for most Israelis it boils down to security. For them, supporters of the Rabin government and its detractors alike, the agreement still has to pass a supreme test: Will it make them feel more secure on the streets of their towns? Only time will tell.
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