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But for Palestinians committed to the peace process, Rabin's death spells trouble. Palestinian security forces are now in a state of emergency because they fear that the assassination will inspire Palestinian enemies of peace to try to kill Arafat, who declined to attend Rabin's funeral for just that reason. Politically, Arafat had come to trust Rabin, and while Peres is viewed as a softer adversary, the Palestinians fear that he will not be able to rally Israel behind him. Says a senior Palestinian Authority official, "The Israeli politicians are sad now. But after three days you will see them again shouting at each other in the Knesset. We will go back to square one, and the victim will be our agreement with the Israelis."
Because of the logistical difficulties involved in getting world leaders to Israel within the customary 24-hour period between death and burial, Rabin's state funeral was put off a day--until Monday afternoon. But Israelis themselves poured out their confused and troubled emotions on Sunday in a remarkable rite of homage. As a motorized cortege bore the warrior statesman up the highway from Tel Aviv to the Holy City, teary-eyed mourners lined the route. And when he came to rest in the brilliant blue November afternoon on a catafalque outside the Knesset, hundreds of thousands of Israelis, in a queue two kilometers long, filed quietly past to pay their last respects.
Perhaps if more of them had supported their fallen leader in the last hard years of his life, this moment would never have come. As former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger noted last week, Rabin was a leader who "was not trying just to hang on and preserve, but to build." Now it is up to those who survive to build that legacy for him. "The peace process," says former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Edward Djerejian, "has always been a race against violence on the ground and the extremists." Rabin's death will not have been in vain if it helps the Middle East win that race.
--Reported by Lisa Beyer, Johanna McGeary and Aharon Klein/Jerusalem, Lara Marlowe/Beirut, Scott MacLeod/Paris and James Carney and J.F.O McAllister/Washington