On December 10, 1994, three men accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for what seemed, perhaps then and still now, an improbable feat.
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, then heads of state for Israel and Palestine respectively, as well as Shimon Peres, currently the president of Israel and then the acting foreign minister.
In awarding the trio the prize, the Nobel committee commended the men “for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East.”
The three leaders were honored for their peace talks that resulted in the Oslo Accords, then considered the farthest stride ever toward conciliation between the two sides and a cusp of peace that has arguably not been recreated since.
From the Nobel committee:
For several decades, the conflict between Israel and its neighbor states, and between Israelis and Palestinians, has been among the most irreconcilable and menacing in international politics. The parties have caused each other great suffering.
By concluding the Oslo Accords, and subsequently following them up, Arafat, Peres and Rabin have made substantial contributions to a historic process through which peace and cooperation can replace war and hate.
In his 1895 will, Alfred Nobel wrote that the Peace Prize could be awarded to the person who, in the preceding year, ‘shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations.’ The award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 1994 to Arafat, Peres and Rabin is intended by the Norwegian Nobel Committee to honor a political act which called for great courage on both sides, and which has opened up opportunities for a new development towards fraternity in the Middle East. It is the Committee’s hope that the award will serve as an encouragement to all the Israelis and Palestinians who are endeavoring to establish lasting peace in the region.
Rabin was assassinated less than a year after accepting the prize, a crushing blow to the peace process. He is largely considered one of the staunchest proponents for peace negotiations either side has ever seen.