1993: Rabin and Arafat shake on peace deal

The Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, and the PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, on this day in September 1993 shook hands before cheering crowds on the White House lawn in Washington.

The handshake, the first ever in public between the two former arch-enemies, marked the signing of a Declaration of Principles for peace between the Arabs and Israelis.

Under the terms of the deal, Israel agreed to withdraw its troops from Gaza Strip and West Bank by April 1994.

Elections were scheduled in the territories to allow the Palestinians some form of self-government.

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A deadline for a final settlement was set for February 1999. The deal was made possible by talks brokered by the Norwegians earlier in the year, and by the election of Rabin’s Labour government, which included the pro-peace campaigners Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin.

President Bill Clinton introduced the two leaders to the crowd of guests in front of the White House. By his side, were former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George Bush who had vigorously campaigned for peace during their terms in office.

Clinton said: “The peace of the brave is within our reach. Throughout the Middle East there is a great yearning for the
quiet miracle of a normal life. “We know a difficult road lies ahead. Every peace has its enemies.”

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