PEACE PRIZE TRIUMVIRATE DENOUNCED

Associated Press
Section: MAIN,  Page: A2

Date: Saturday, December 10, 1994

OSLO, Norway It was a decidedly unpeaceful welcome Friday for the three men receiving the Nobel Peace Prize: Protesters denounced Yasir Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres bloodied his face in a dramatic fall.


Yet aides to PLO chief Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Rabin and Foreign Minister Peres professed hopes that the ``spirit of Oslo,'' where their arduous peace process began, will provide one more breakthrough for the Middle East. The ceremony today jointly honoring Rabin, Peres and Arafat would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.


But 15 months after Arafat and Rabin signed the peace accord, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize has become one more milestone along a road that Peres calls irreversible and that started with secret talks here.


Peres, 71, tripped and fell while returning to his hotel with Rabin from a Friday night Sabbath prayer service. His face was bloodied from scrapes above his right eye and nose and he suffered a split lip.


Wary security agents, some with automatic rifles, scurried about when Peres fell.


This year's Nobel Peace Prize drew several dozen noisy protesters to Oslo, chanting and shouting objections to giving a peace prize to Arafat, long considered a terrorist. The former guerrilla leader masterminded the gunmen and bombers who killed and maimed in hopes of destroying the state of Israel.


At 65 and about to become a father for the first time, Arafat spoke of an international dream of peace in the Middle East.


``I am from Jerusalem, where the three religions have their foundation and roots Judaism, Christian and Islam and we have to work hard to give the chance for the shrining of the real peace of the three religions,'' he said.


``Not only for the sake of our people there but for the sake of the whole international communities everywhere,'' Arafat said.


A senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Peres hoped Arafat would respond in Oslo to Peres' suggestions on holding Palestinian elections as soon as possible and on ``minimal redeployment'' of Israeli troops from the occupied West Bank.


The elections were scheduled for last July and were to take place after Israeli troops withdrew from the West Bank. The Israelis have been reluctant to pull out, fearing Islamic fundamentalist attacks on Israeli settlers.


On Friday, Islamic extremists in the self-rule Gaza Strip mocked the Palestine Liberation Organization leader in a play that climaxed with a depiction of Arafat's police gunning down Muslim worshippers. The scene was a reference to last month's shooting outside a Gaza City mosque.


Bending to Nobel rules, Arafat has left behind his trademark .357 Magnum usually strapped to his hip. His wife, 31-year-old Suha, made the trip with him after announcing that she is pregnant.


``Peace in our context you make with enemies sometimes bitter enemies,'' Rabin, 72, told a news conference after his arrival.


Police held in check about 40 demonstrators who'd come to protest against the Nobel committee's decision honoring Arafat. One member of the Nobel Peace Prize committee quit when the prize was announced rather than condone giving an award to Arafat.


New York City Rabbi Avi Weiss and three other protesters were arrested Friday outside the Norwegian Nobel Institute before Rabin and Peres arrived to meet with the awards committee. A small crowd outside the building shouted: ``Shame! Shame!''