NEW YORK (Oct. 11)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat reportedly are slated to share this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten issued the report Tuesday, three days before the Nobel Peace Prize Committee was scheduled to announce the winner of the award, valued at more than $930,000.
In Israel, there is much speculation that Rabin and Arafat will share the prize as a result of their dramatic handshake on the South Lawn of the White House last fall. The historic meeting set in motion the Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative that led to the first stage of Palestinian self-rule in May.
In Jerusalem, a spokeswoman for Rabin declined comment on the report, adding there would be no statement from the prime minister until the winner was officially announced.
Quoting unnamed sources, the newspaper reported that the five-member committee has had difficulty deciding who should be credited with launching the Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.
Under current rules, no more than three people can share the prize.
The committee reportedly also considered Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas, a co-founder of the PLO. Peres and Abbas, who had engaged in back-channel negotiations in Oslo, Norway, actually signed the Declaration of Principles in Washington in September 1993.
One member of the committee, Kare Kristiansen, reportedly threatened to resign if Arafat was named a co-winner of the prize. Despite Arafat’s role in the peace process, Kristiansen is concerned about the PLO leader’s terrorist past, the newspaper reported.