`Peace treaty' signed by Israelis, Palestinians

Israeli and Palestinian intellectuals did yesterday what their political leaders have been unable to do for 40 years -- they signed a peace accord. The ``treaty,'' written in Hebrew, Arabic, and English on parchment-like paper, was signed by about 25 Israeli and Palestinian writers and painters during a news conference at which foreign reporters far outnumbered local journalists.

The document calls for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state called Falastin [the Arabic pronunciation of Palestine] in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which Israel captured during the 1967 Mideast war.

The treaty recognizes the right of Israel and Falastin to live in peace and security within their own borders. It designates Jerusalem a demilitarized city with open borders, which would serve as the capital of both states.

Israeli author Yoram Kaniuk described the signing as an ``historic moment.''

``We hope this will have some kind of influence [on politicians] who say there is no one to talk to and nothing to talk about,'' he said.

Asad El Asad, head of the Palestinian Writers' Association in the occupied territories, said the Palestine Liberation Organization favors the terms of the artists' treaty.

``We feel we are transmitting clearly and honestly the message of our representatives, the PLO,'' Mr. Asad said.

Israeli poet Nathan Zach said he would now extend his appeal beyond the circle of the committee and ask all like-minded artists, writers, and academics in Israel and the occupied territories to sign the treaty.

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