Mid-East row bogs down Nobel Prize

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The Independent Online
THE NOBEL Peace Prize committe is bogged down in a quagmire of Middle Eastern conspiratorial politics, two weeks before announcing this year's prize, writes Adel Darwish.

The five-person committee elected by the Norwegian Stortings (parliament), it was reported, agreed to the awarding of the dollars 1m ( pounds 655,000) prize on 14 October to Israel's Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and the PLO chairman, Yasser Arafat.

The rivalry between Mr Rabin and Israel's Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, who are in competition for the leadership of the Israeli Labour Party, matched by a bitter personality conflict on the Palestinian side, guaranteed a last-minute hitch. Israeli diplomats and European leaders, including Mr Major and France's President Mitterrand, lobbied the committee saying that Mr Peres was the true architect of peace. Terje Roed Larsen, the Norwegian diplomat who brought the Palestinians and Israelis together, suggested sharing the prize between Mr Rabin, Mr Peres, Mr Arafat and Mahhmoud Abbas, who signed the accord at the White House, or Ahmed Qrei, who did the negotiating in Oslo. Arab sources say neither are on speaking terms with Mr Arafat because of his auotcratic style.