"Jordan's feud with the PLO over the future of Jerusalem also rumbled on, with Yasser Arafat insisting the city was the Palestinians' capital, even though the treaty grants Jordan custody of its Muslim holy places."
October 25, 1994
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin today urged his people to back Israel's peace treaty with Jordan, painting an idyllic portrait of open roads and skies between the long-time enemies.
Presenting the treaty to the Israeli parliament on the eve of its signing Wednesday, Rabin hailed the document as a major step toward cementing Israel's place in the Middle East. He said it would mean "a fundamental and substantive change in our very existence."
As he spoke, workers put the finishing touches to a newly asphalted plaza on the Jordan-Israel border, in the desert just north of the Red Sea, where President Clinton and 5,000 guests will witness the signing of the treaty.
"The time has arrived for all parties to follow the brave and hopeful inspiration of Israel and Jordan,"
Clinton said today before heading to the Middle East.
A wave of anti-Israeli terrorism, including the bus bombing that killed 23 people last week, including the suicide bomber, provoked calls to tone down the celebrations or postpone the signing since families were observing the one-week period of mourning.
Jordan's feud with the PLO over the future of Jerusalem also rumbled on, with Yasser Arafat insisting the city was the Palestinians' capital, even though the treaty grants Jordan custody of its Muslim holy places.
"Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state. Those who don't like it can drink from the sea of Gaza,"
Arafat told 2,000 cheering students in the Gaza Strip.
On the Israeli side, the right-wing Likud opposition decided to support the treaty, assuring its acceptance by the 120-member Knesset later in the day.
Aware of the unease felt by many Israelis, the 72-year-old former general departed from his customary dry, unemotional style and laced his speech with biblical verse and vivid images.
Rabin spoke of
"the truck leaving Haifa carrying a cargo for Amman... Businessmen who will fly off in the morning to close a deal, and return in the evening to Jerusalem; and families that will go off on trips to Jordan and Petra, three hours' traveling time from Tel Aviv."
"Normalization means an Israeli bus leaving the central bus station in Jerusalem for Amman and ... planes of the Jordanian airline crossing the skies of Israel on their way to Europe."
Rabin said that to deliver the fruits of peace as fast as possible, Israeli tourists would be allowed into Jordan just a week after the signing, even though diplomatic relations won't be established for a month.
Illustrating the friendly new climate, the Elite company, a chocolate manufacturer, announced it had already filmed a commercial at Petra, the spectacular ancient city in the Jordanian desert.
With the Jordan accord, a peace treaty with Egypt holding up firmly, and a preliminary deal with the Palestinians in place, Israel has reached its greatest level of acceptance in 46 years as a Jewish homeland in the Middle East.
Rabin turned to Isaiah 52:7 to express his emotions, in the slow, basso tone that is his hallmark: "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation."
Recalling his first public visit to Amman on Oct. 16, he said:
"Last week we stood at night on the balcony of the king's palace in Amman, and opposite us shone the lights of Jerusalem, so near."
Likud's Moshe Katzav, speaking after Rabin, praised the treaty, but said "the feeling of joy is mingled with sadness" because of recent attacks by Hamas, which also operates from Jordan.
The Muslim fundamentalist group is blamed for the Tel Aviv bus bombing and other recent attacks.
"We have lived with terrorism for a long time,"
"There are those who ask, what is the point of peace if terrorism still exists?....I can only promise that at the end of the road we will defeat it. Peace is the only way to isolate terrorism. Peace will show the nations of the region that there is an alternative."
In Jordan, King Hussein told an Israeli newspaper his country would "do everything in our power" to curb terrorists.
In talking to the mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth, Hussein sought to get a reassuring message to Israelis. "It will be a very warm peace," he said.
Of Arafat, who has not been invited to the signing, Hussein said only that "Arafat is our problem and yours."
Israelis also worry that Syria, its most powerful enemy, opposes the treaty and has set tough conditions for making peace with Israel.
"We want to believe that the peace treaty with Jordan will advance the treaty with Syria. We don't yet have an agreement with Syria. There are talks; agreement, there isn't," Rabin said.