CNN World News

Israel-PLO peace accord gets stormy 'yes' vote

October 6, 1995
Web posted at: 5:25 a.m. EDT (0925 GMT)


JERUSALEM (CNN) -- In an address to Israel's parliament, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin urged lawmakers to give peace a chance, although he had to shout to do it.

The 120-member parliament, or the Knesset, passed the peace deal with the PLO on Thursday by a narrow vote of 61 to 59. The deal expands Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank beyond Gaza and Jericho. The agreement was signed on September 28 at the White House by Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.


Before the vote, Rabin rallied to muster last-minute support for the deal from legislators. Passage was hard won. There were 15 hours of stormy debate in which members of Rabin's own party argued against the accord. As Rabin addressed the parliament, he ended up shouting his message to stop a never-ending circle of violence as his opposers yelled their disapproval. Every member of parliament spoke on the agreement before the vote.

Outside the parliament building, nearly 20,000 Israeli protesters opposed to the accord scuffled with police. They threw torches at police and stoned the car of at least one cabinet minister making his way into parliament. One protester said that Rabin would be killed if he emerged from the building. Later, they surrounded it.

The accord calls for an Israeli troop withdrawal from Palestinian towns by the end of the year, the deployment of 12,000 armed Palestinian police in the West Bank, and Palestinian general elections by spring. Government opponents say that the agreement is a foreshadowing, and that it would lead the way for the establishment of a Palestinian state in all of the land Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

Rabin, seeking to regain some political ground, ruled out a Palestinian state and promised to keep Jews in parts of the West Bank.

In 1993, a landmark accord was reached between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization that launched Palestinian self-rule in Gaza and Jericho. That first agreement, reached after decades of hostility, received solid support in Israel's parliament, passing by a vote of 61-50. Since then, Rabin's coalition has shrunk and maverick legislators have crossed lines on the peace issue.

Negotiations between Israel and the PLO on the final status of the West Bank and Gaza will open next year.

While Israel ponders the question of peace, hundreds of Palestinians are stranded at the Libyan-Egyptian border.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is opposed to the peace accord and has been pushing Palestinians to leave Libya and return to Palestinian self-ruled areas. Demonstrations erupted when he visited the area Wednesday and spoke to refugees.


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