Peace process must go on
THE Norwegian committee that each year picks the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize neither shuns controversy nor courts it. The consistent element in the choice of prize-winners appears to be the committee's ambition to strengthen those who are in a position to further the cause of peace rather than merely to reward those who might claim to have achieved a peaceful solution to a problem.
When Nelson Mandela and Frederik de Klerk were named winners last year, peace was within South Africa's grasp, but had not been achieved. Similarly, this year, winners Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres are all in a position to further the peace process, though none immediately appears particularly dove-like. Peace is not just a matter of renouncing violence: it involves seeking to remove the factors underlying outbreaks of violence.
The kidnapping and killing of an Israeli soldier injected a note of tragedy to the process of this year's Nobel award, but must not be allowed to slow the peace process, still less derail it. The group responsible for the kidnapping, Hamas, has all along opposed the peace process and views Mr Arafat as a traitor. It is in the interest of Palestinians and Israelis alike that the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Israeli Government work together to eliminate the distrust and hatred that have caused such violence and misery in recent decades. Peace is a prize for which it is worth taking a few risks.