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Saturday March 6, 2010 9:53 AM (EST+7)
Author: Rabin saw Arafat as 'last vestige of Palestinian nationalism'

Read more: Yizhak Rabin, Yasser Arafat, peace process, negotiations, assassination

RAMALLAH, March 5 (JMCC) - A new book by Yitzhak Rabin's confidante and speechwriter relates his thoughts on the peace process just two days before his assassination.

Rabin saw Yasser Arafat as the last vestige of Palestinian nationalism and, even as he committed to a peace agreement with the PLO leader, was doubtful of its outcome, writes Yehuda Avner.

“Number one,” he recounts Rabin as saying, “Israel is surrounded by two concentric circles. The inner circle is comprised of our immediate neighbors – Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon and, by extension, Saudi Arabia. The outer circle comprises their neighbors – Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya. Virtually all of them are rogue states, and some are going nuclear.

“Number two,” the prime minister went on, “Iranian-inspired Islamic fundamentalism constitutes a threat to the inner circle no less than it does to Israel. Islamic fundamentalism is striving to destabilize the Gulf Emirates, has already created havoc in Syria, leaving twenty thousand dead, in Algeria, leaving one hundred thousand dead, in Egypt, leaving twenty-two thousand dead, in Jordan, leaving eight thousand dead, in the Horn of Africa – the Sudan and Somalia – leaving fourteen thousand dead, and in Yemen, leaving twelve thousand dead. And now it is gaining influence in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

“Iran is the banker,” Rabin pointed out, “pouring millions into the West Bank and Gaza in the form of social welfare and health and education programs, so that it can win the hearts of the population and feed religious fanaticism.

“Thus,” he continued to Avner, “a confluence of interest has arisen between Israel and the inner circle, whose long-term strategic interest is the same as ours: to lessen the destabilizing consequences from the outer circle. At the end of the day,the inner circle recognizes they have less to fear from Israel than from their Muslim neighbors, not least from radicalized Islamic powers going nuclear.”

Next, Rabin came to the thinking at the heart of his decision to pursue the Oslo process: The Israel-Arab conflict, he said, “was always considered to be a political one: a conflict between Arabs and Israelis. The fundamentalists are doing their level best to turn it into a religious conflict – Muslim against Jew, Islam against Judaism. And while a political conflict is possible to solve through negotiation and compromise, there are no solutions to a theological conflict. Then it is jihad – religious war: their God against our God. Were they to win, our conflict would go from war to war, and from stalemate to stalemate.

Read the entire article on the Jerusalem Post...






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