Howard Dicus: 1993 was the year of the handshake, the year Israeli and Palestinian leaders shook hands on an agreement to wind down a civil war that had lasted for half the century.
President Bill Clinton: “Throughout the Middle East, there is a great yearning for the quiet miracle of a normal life.”
Howard Dicus: U.S. Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton -- that's every President since the '60s -- all spent time pursuing peace in the Middle East. Finally in 1993, Israel and the PLO reached a historic agreement...
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres: “Deep gaps call for lofty bridges.”
Howard Dicus: Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres was one of the Jewish and Arab leaders who came to Washington in 1993 to shake hands on a deal to give self-government to Palestinians living in lands Israel control.
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres: “I want to tell the Palestinian delegation that we are sincere, that we mean business.”
Howard Dicus: PLO leader Yasser Arafat, who renounced violence and endangered his standing among more radical elements to make the agreement possible, told his listeners on the White House lawn the agreement struck at the cause of the conflict.
Yasser Arafat: “...putting an end to their feelings of being wronged and of having suffered an historic injustice.”
Howard Dicus: When Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin spoke he made much the same point, but with a level of emotion that brought many in the audience to tears.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin: “We who have fought against you, the Palestinians, we say to you today, in a loud and a clear voice, enough of blood and tears ... enough!”
Howard Dicus: UPI was asking Khalil Abdenour in Gaza how people were reacting. He started to describe it, but then decided to simply hold the phone out the window.
Khalil Abdenour: “As I'm talking to you, there is a parade going out in the streets right now with the celebrations; maybe you can hear that ... ”
Howard Dicus: By year's end, logistical problems were delaying the handoff of power; but Palestinians mostly remained peaceable, sensing that this time there really could be a happy ending. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said there had better be.
Secretary of State Warren Christopher: "This Israeli-Palestinian agreement cannot be permitted to fail."
Howard Dicus: President Clinton wanted more than for the Middle East accord to work; he wanted former foes to work together elsewhere.
President Bill Clinton: “What these leaders have done now must be done by others.”
Howard Dicus: By year's end, Clinton got his wish when South Africa launched its first multiracial governing body, an interim government until biracial elections in 1994. President Frederick De Klerk and black leader Nelson Mandela, the former foes who made this possible, won the Nobel Peace Prize.
© 1993 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.