Rabin brandishes an olive branch

YITZHAK RABIN, Israel's new Prime Minister, used his inaugural speech yesterday to seize the initiative in the peace process by challenging Palestinian leaders to meet him in Jerusalem to talk about self-rule. He also offered to go to Amman, Damascus and Beirut 'in the service of peace' and invited Arab leaders to address the Israeli parliament.

President Bush made a congratulatory phone call to Mr Rabin, and said he will dispatch the US Secretary of State, James Baker, to the Middle East next week 'to get the ball rolling again' on peace talks. He invited Mr Rabin to his summer home in Kennebunkport in August.

But Jordanian and Palestinian delegates to the Middle East peace talks gave a cool reception to Mr Rabin's invitation to Arab leaders to go to Jerusalem. 'We will have to wait and see,' said Hanan Ashrawi, spokeswoman for the Palestinian delegation. 'Generally, our reaction would be, it looks like a difference in tone from the Likud position . . . Most people collectively are sceptical until we see proof.'

Abdul Salam Majali, head of the Jordanian delegation, said a meeting in Jerusalem 'is only a matter of formalities and would not solve fundamental issues'.

Since the signing of the peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, Israel has regularly invited Arab leaders to Jerusalem but has never expected that such invitations would be accepted, because no Arab leader took seriously any offer by the outgoing hardline Likud leader, Yitzhak Shamir. Palestinians and other Arab leaders rejected symbolic meetings in Israel, which they feared Mr Shamir would exploit. Also, Arab leaders oppose any separate peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians.

Mr Rabin's offer is evidence of determination by the new Labour government to make progress, and is designed to press the Arabs into concessions on where talks can be held. Mr Rabin has set a nine-month target for reaching agreement on limited self-rule for Palestinians in the occupied territories. The next formal round of peace talks is due in Rome but Israel has always said it would like the talks to be in the Middle East. Mr Rabin has hinted that he is ready to soften Israel's refusal to have contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

The prospect for peace dominated Mr Rabin's speech marking the presentation of his government. Tone as much as content demonstrated a break with Mr Shamir's intransigence.

However, the speech also looked ahead to the problem areas which remain in the autonomy talks. Mr Rabin made clear he would not freeze all settlements and would continue to 'enhance and strengthen' Jewish building in the Golan Heights, the Jordan Valley and greater Jerusalem. The Palestinians and the US have demanded a halt to all settlements.

Mr Rabin tried equally to persuade the Palestinians to end their misery by taking the best peace offer they will ever have, and to persuade Israelis that the time had come to end their isolation and to realise the world was no longer against them. To the Palestinians, he said: 'You have failed in your war against us. One hundred years of your bloodshed . . . have brought you only suffering, humiliation, bereavement and pain.' 'You will not get everything you want,' said Mr Rabin. 'Neither will we. So once and for all, take your destiny in your hands. Don't lose this opportunity that may never return. Take our proposal seriously . . . to end the shedding of tears and of blood.'

Seeking to reassure Israelis, Mr Rabin said: 'Walls of enmity have fallen. No longer are we necessarily a people that dwells alone, and no longer is it true that the whole world is against us . . . We must join the international movement towards peace, reconciliation and co-operation that is spreading over the entire globe these days - lest we be the last to remain, all alone, in the station.'

Suggested Topics
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star