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Rabin the Peacemaker Returns and is Rebuffed by Opposition

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin returned home from his historic visit to Washington as a world-respected peacemaker, only to find himself snubbed by members of the opposition at an airport welcoming reception.

Rabin, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and their entourage returned to Ben-Gurion Airport aboard their Israeli air force jet early Wednesday morning, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, following the signing of a historic agreement with the Palestine Liberation Organization at the White House on Monday.

A large crowd of Israeli officials and foreign diplomats was on hand for the pre-dawn arrival ceremony at the airport.

But conspicuous in their absence were members of the opposition Likud party.

Three who received official invitations — Likud Knesset faction Chairman Moshe Katsav and Deputy Knesset Speakers Ovadia Eli and Dov Shilansky — went public with their refusal to attend.

Shilansky announced that he could not “shake the hand still warm from having touched the blood-soaked hand” of PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.

En route home, Rabin and Peres made an unexpected stop Tuesday in Morocco for their first official meeting with King Hassan II.

Rabin visited Morocco secretly in 1976, and Peres has met with Hassan on several other occasions, all of which were also low-profile visits.

But on this occasion, they were given an official welcome before being escorted to the king’s Atlantic seaside palace.

Although the meeting was cordial, it did not result in an announcement that Morocco would formally establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

But Israeli officials were expecting Morocco to make such an announcement in the near future.

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