November 6, 1995
Web posted at: 1:25 p.m. EST (1825 GMT)
From World Affairs Correspondent Ralph Begleiter
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin casts a dramatic new light on Arab-Israeli peace talks.
Over the past four years, Rabin successfully had reached accords with the Palestinians and with Jordan, and in one of his last face-to-face meetings with journalists, Rabin told CNN less than a week ago that he was determined to go ahead with negotiations with Syria, despite the controversy among Israelis over the return of the disputed Golan Heights.
The prompt decision by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Hussein, among other Arab leaders, to attend Rabin's funeral reflect a determination among many Arabs to prevent a collapse of the ongoing peace process.
Syrian president Hafez Assad did not send a delegation to Israel for the funeral, but a government newspaper in Damascus announced Syria's intention to persist with the peace process and called on Israel to move quickly, despite the assassination.
A very senior Syrian official told CNN in Damascus just minutes before shots killed Rabin that both Syria and Israel need an agreement, that an agreement with Syria is simple enough to complete in less than three months and that Syria and Israel should not "dwell on history."
Mubarak, representing the first Arab nation to make peace with Israel, told CNN privately just days before the assassination that Israel should not give Syria any excuse to back away from negotiations. And Mubarak said he repeatedly has asked Assad not to let a historic opportunity for peace with Israel pass.
But the assassination of Rabin, apparently by an Israeli extremist, could be interpreted by the Arabs as revealing the depth of opposition to the peace process in Israel. That could put peace talks on hold.
The future of Jerusalem is an issue even more sensitive than the compromises that apparently prompted Rabin's assassination. Arabs and Israelis may reconsider whether they can really begin negotiations about Jerusalem in just seven months, as currently scheduled.
Despite his intentions and hopes, acting Prime Minister Shimon Peres may have a hard sell to convince the Arabs that he can not only make commitments to peace, but can keep them as well.
Copyright © 1995 Cable News Network, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.