Nobel Peacemakers, Or Traitor And Murderer?

ISRAELI LEADERS and a pistol-less Yasser Arafat will receive the Nobel Peace Prize tomorrow in Oslo, Norway.

OSLO, Norway - The Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony won't be a peaceful affair this year.

Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres are accepting the coveted prize at a time when Israel-PLO talks are mired in violence and suspicion. And protesters flew in from around the world to heckle the laureates.

Police today arrested Rabbi Avi Weiss of New York and three other American Jews outside the Norwegian Nobel Institute, where a small group was shouting "shame, shame."

Oslo police said the protesters were arrested because they refused to stay in an area set aside for their demonstration. Weiss has been leading a series of protests in Oslo.

"We feel it's an obscenity," said Dov Hikind, a New York state assemblyman who flew to Oslo to protest the prize. "Fifteen months after the signing of the peace there is more killing, more terrorism taking place in Israel."

Despite the problems, there is hope Oslo can do again what it did for Israelis and Palestinians last year. The city's relaxed hospitality for secret talks resulted in the Palestinian autonomy accord that took effect in May for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho.

Prime Minister Rabin; his foreign minister, Peres; and a 100-member entourage arrived in Oslo today on board an Israeli air force jet.

Arafat was flying to the Norwegian capital from Egypt, Palestinian officials said. He was accompanied by his wife, Suha.

Rabin and Peres will meet with the PLO leader over the weekend, between today's news conferences, Saturday's awards ceremony and Sunday's receptions. They will try to resolve some of the problems that for months have delayed expanding Palestinian rule to the rest of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

A key hurdle is the Israeli troop pullout from Palestinian towns in the West Bank that is to precede Palestinian elections. Israel wants elections to help shore up Arafat's rule, but is in no rush to redeploy troops, citing the recent rash of attacks on Israelis by Muslim militants.

On the flight to Oslo, Rabin said Israel would keep its commitments if the PLO honors its part of the peace accord.

"Responsibility for security is ours," Rabin told Israel radio. "We are demanding they maintain the law, and public security, among Palestinians under their authority."

Ninety-four Israeli civilians and soldiers have been killed since the Gaza-Jericho agreement was signed in September 1993.

One of the victims was Rafael Yairi, a resident of the militant Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba in the West Bank slain six months ago by Muslim militants.

Yairi's widow, Chaya, flew to Oslo along with dozens of other members of the group "Victims of Arab Terror" to protest the awarding of the prize to Arafat.

"We don't think a murderer deserves mercy, and he shouldn't receive a prize," said Yairi, 33. "We want to warn the world. We are praying that the world will pay attention."

Another group accused Rabin of betraying the Jewish people by agreeing to share the biblical Land of Israel with the Palestinians.

"We are saying that he is a traitor, and we have to arrest him and put him on trial for treason," said Yoni Shmulevitz from the anti-Arab group Kahane Chai, which Rabin outlawed.

Arafat, meanwhile, made a concession to the occasion and left behind the .357 Magnum usually strapped to his hip. Nobel protocol bars weapons at the ceremony.