JERUSALEM, Oct. 5 -- Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, facing a crucial vote on the peace process in Israel's parliament, said Thursday Israel had to stop trying to rule two million Palestinians by force and 'give peace a chance.' The crucial vote in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, to approve the Oslo II agreement on expansion of self-rule for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank appeared to hinge on the decisions of two renegade members of Rabin's own Labor Party who said they would vote against the accord. 'Today, after countless wars and bloodshed, we are ruling more than two million Palestinians,' Rabin said from the podium of the Knesset amid shouts from the opposition, 'This is not a peaceful solution.' 'We can continue to kill and be killed, but we can also try to break this unending bloody circle,' he said. 'We can give peace a chance.' After the debate started Rabin met with rebel party members Avigdor Kahalani and Emanuel Zissman to try to sway their votes and prevent their ouster from his narrow coalition government, which was counting on a slim 61-59 vote. Binyamin Netanyahu, head of the right-wing opposition Likud Party, said the Torah, the Old Testament of the Bible, should be Rabin's guide. 'Your giving of rights won't stop at some green line,' Netanyahu said, referring to the 1967 border between Israel and the West Bank. 'From the national Arab perspective...the line of giving in won't stop until it reaches the blue line, the line of the Mediterranean Sea.'
The stormy debate on the accord, which calls for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from most Arab areas and their replacement by thousands of Palestinian police, was expected to rage all night in the 120-member body with the vote coming sometime early Friday, Israeli radio reported. Kahalani had said he would vote in favor only if Rabin agreed to bring future troop redeployment agreements to the Knesset for approval before they were implemented. But after the meeting with Rabin, Kahalani refused to say which way he would vote. Zissman's position remained unchanged, Israeli radio reported. Former opposition member Alex Goldfarb told the Knesset he intended to vote for the accord. 'The citizens of Israel need to give peace a chance. Only time will decide what is justice,' Goldfarb shouted among catcalls from opposition members who labeled him a 'traitor' for bolting the right- wing Tsomet Party for a position as deputy housing minister in Rabin's cabinet. As the debate continued, about 3,000 right-wing demonstrators gathered in downtown Jerusalem and planned to march to the Knesset to oppose the accord. Police closed Jaffa Street, the main downtown artery, as opposition leaders told protesters they would continue to work against the accord. Protesters handed out posters of Rabin dressed in a Nazi SS uniform, a continuation of an earlier campaign that began last year with posters branding the prime minister a 'traitor.' 'Only the nation can decide' several banners read, reflecting opposition calls for a national referendum to approve the peace process with the Palestinians.