JERUSALEM, Nov. 5 -- Only minutes before he died Saturday, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and his old-time rival Foreign Minister Shimon Peres hugged each other in front of 80,000 Israelis at a peace rally in Tel Aviv, showing unprecedented unanimity and saying they were united behind the peace process. 'We are partners in an historic process,' Rabin told Israel Radio interviewer Yaron Dekel who had mentioned to Rabin he had never seen the two contenders for the Labor Party crown embrace. 'You see things are changing, not just on the world scene, not just on the Middle East scene, (but) also on our scene,' Rabin retorted. Rabin and Peres had clashed on many occasions over two decades as they vied for the position of party leader. Both had been prime minister before Rabin edged out Peres in party primaries before the 1992 elections. Their bitter rivalry and acrimonious relationship, once legendary, appeared to have matured into a thriving partnership. 'We are embracing on behalf of peace and the jealousy of other parties is eating them up,' Peres said. 'It is the first time that there is a united (Labor) leadership, convinced, unafraid, appearing up front...that also gets what it needs.' The two were exuberant after addressing Saturday's peace rally together with members of the Cabinet, the Egyptian and Jordanian ambassadors to Israel and the director of the Moroccan interest office in Tel Aviv. 'I want to say that I am proud of the fact that representatives of the countries with whom we are living in peace, have appeared--and will appear--here: Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco, which opened the road to peace for us,' Rabin told the crowd.
Speaking forcefully and with conviction, Rabin warned that Islamic fundamentalists who had set off two suicide car bombs earlier in the week, were still an obstacle to the peace process. 'There are enemies of peace, they are trying to hurt us, with the objective of torpedoing the peace. I want to say bluntly, that we have found a partner for peace among the Palestinians as well: the PLO, which was an enemy, and has stopped terrorism. 'Without partners for peace, there is no peace. We will demand that (the PLO) do its part for peace, just as we will do our part for peace, in order to solve the most complicated, prolonged, and most sensitive component of the Israeli-Arab conflict: the Palestinian-Israeli. 'We dared to do this, which is fraught with difficulties and tribulations. There is no path for Israel without tribulations. The path of peace is preferable to the path of war. And I say this to you as someone who was a military man, someone who is today Minister of Defense and sees the pain of the families of (Israeli) soldiers; for them, for our children, in my case, for our grandchildren. 'This rally must communicate to the Israeli public, to the Jewish public around the world, to the multitudes in the Arab world and the whole world, that the Israeli people want peace, supports peace, and for this, thank you very much,' Rabin concluded before turning to embrace Peres. Moments later, the Nobel Peace Prize winner walked down the stairs from the stage at Tel Aviv's city Hall where an Israeli Jewish gunman fired three fatal rounds into him a few steps before entering his bulletproof car.