The "historic handshake" between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairperson Yasir Arafat, following the signing of the "Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements" in Washington, DC, on 13 September 1993, in the presence of President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, and PLO Executive Committee member Mahmoud Abbas, does not change the focus of this chapter. "Cautious optimism" continues to be present in the Jewish communities of both Israel and the United States, as well as throughout the world. The 'sina qua non' of this Agreement will be the commitment of the PLO towards guaranteeing and participating in the safety and security of the State of Israel and the willingness of additional Arab nation-states to enter into peaceful agreements and negotiations with Israel. [The signing of the "IsraeliJordan Agenda" by Israeli chief negotiator Elyakim Rubenstein and Jordanian chief negotiator Fayez Tarawneh at the State Department, Washington, DC, on 14 September 1993, is such a first step.]
A cautionary note: Only the most naive among us, it seems to me, would regard the signing of the above 'Arrangements' as not, ultimately, leading to the creation of an independent sovereign Palestinian State in the not-too-distant future. What this will mean in concrete detail will be the coming confrontation between Israel and her neighbors. Likewise the continuing issues surrounding the city of Jerusalem. Such a creation, however, does not absolve Israel and the Jewish People, both within and without, of their responsibilities inside Israel towards her non-Jewish citizens.
Theologically and religiously, what the reality of two sovereign nationstates, an Israeli state and a Palestinian state side-by-side, means may very well be a rethought understanding for Jews and Arabs of the "other." At this point, we will have to wait and see what the ensuing years bring.