THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Jerusalem, Israel) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release March 13, 1996
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT CLINTON AND PRIME MINISTER SHIMON PERES OF ISRAEL UPON ARRIVAL Ben Gurion Airport Tel Aviv, Israel
10:21 P.M. (L)
PRIME MINISTER PERES: Mr. President, Secretary of State, distinguished delegation: I really feel like a moved person. I saw the President of the United States at his best, he's a great President, and may I tell our people, as a moving friend, from the moment the first bomb has exploded, the President did not stop to worry, to ask what can he do; in order, really, to overcome the difficulties and agonies of Israel to save the peace process, to introduce a light of hope and understanding in the Middle East.
I would like to tell our people, actually in order to confront terrorism, we have to fight on three fronts: domestically, to organize our own forces, then to ask the Palestinians to perform correctly to save the agreement between us and them, and then to have the responsible international community to come together and stop the traffic of arms, of money, of support.
The President got himself involved in all the three domains. We have asked for some equipment to save -- and in 12 hours, it was in Israel. Then, the President called upon the head of the Palestinian Authority and in very clear terms told them that he has to do whatever he should in accordance with the agreement, not to enable Gaza to become a source of violence and killing, and then in six or seven days, the President has organized a conference of an unprecedented nature. For the first time in the history of the Middle East, 13 representatives -- kings, prime ministers, foreign ministers of the Arab land, came together and were considering how to bring security so to enable peace to flow on. They were the most impressive leaders of our time who came to Sharm el-Sheikh, and in an extremely short while, it became an outstanding landmark in the attempt to face a new situation.
May I say a word about the new situation. Previously, we know time of war and time of peace. When there was peace, there was no war; when there was war, there was no peace. Here, for the first time, we are trying to bring peace, and at the same time we have to stop terror from killing the peace.
I think what the President did is a sort of a doctrine saying we have to stop -- to fight terror if we want to proceed with peace. We cannot satisfy ourselves just by being nice people and promoting the peace process. And with an unbelieving eye, I saw today 30 leaders, 13 of them Arabs, coming together and accepting the invitation and the doctrine of the President of the United States.
Nobody can guarantee that, from now on, we shall see just nice things, but I can say with a full heart that whatever could have been done internationally, regionally, nationally and humanely, the President took the initiative to do so, and did it with great devotion and great understanding.
And what I want to say is simply, welcome to the land of Israel. Thank you, Mr. President, for being great and friendly as you are. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Speaker, members of the Israeli government, representatives of the people of Israel: I am honored to be here today, again, to stand with you in a time of pain and mourning and challenge. We grieve with you in the loss of innocent lives, we pray with you for the scores who lie wounded, we stand with you in the unceasing battle against those who commit these awful crimes. Your journey is our journey, and America will be with you every step of the way.
The attacks we mourn claimed Israeli lives, although others, including Americans, died as well. But these attacks were aimed at all who yearn for a better day for this region, for all who believe that peace is better than war. The enemies of peace have grown desperate and more vicious as the reality of peace has moved closer, But we must not let the acts of the wicked few destroy the dreams of the many. Together, we must restore the security that building peace requires. Those who practice terror must not succeed. We must root them out, and we will not let them kill the peace.
In this time, you are not alone. I have flown here with the Prime Minister, as he said, from Sharm el-Sheikh, from a summit of peacemakers that is unprecedented in the history of the Middle East. At the urging of many who were once Israel's sworn enemies -- Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinians -- 29 leaders came together, 13 of them from Arab countries. There were Israel neighbors, there were other Arab nations, nations from Europe, North America and Asia. All have long labored for peace. All are now united against the terror aimed at Israel.
They came to support with deeds as well as words the peace process and the restoration of security, and new efforts against terrorism. Only a few years ago, such a meeting would have been inconceivable. Only a few weeks ago, such a meeting would have been hard to imagine. Just a few days ago, this remarkable meeting was put together.
The leaders of this area have met only a handful of times, and then always to celebrate events on the road to peace. But today they met in common cause to take action to confront the urgent threat of terrorism, to show that Hamas, Hezbollah, the Islamic Jihad will not succeed in killing the peace.
Now, many of Israel's neighbors in the region have demonstrated that they share your desire for peace, and they understand that extremist violence is also their enemy. The nations that met in Sharm el-Sheikh sowed the seeds for a new cooperation, to build peace and to confront those who would destroy it. The Middle East is changing; we must not, we will not let terror reverse history.
Sharm el-Sheikh was a beginning. Tomorrow we will press forward when I and senior administration officials meet with the Prime Minister and his key security advisors. We will discuss concrete steps the United States can take to help the IDF and the Israeli police defeat those who would murder and maim. No one takes greater personal risks on behalf of peace than the brave men and women of Israel's security forces, like those who are standing here. America is determined to support them in every way and to provide them with the means they need to prevail against extremism and violence.
I have visited this beautiful and holy land before. I have celebrated the great event on the road to peace. I have mourned Prime Minister Rabin. Today, I come again in sorrow, but also in determination with this message from the American people: The United States stands more strongly than ever, shoulder-to- shoulder with Israel. We will work with you as you strive for a secure peace. We will stand by your side until Israelis come to know that peace with security within this land is a reality, "until," in the words of the prophet, "the voice of joy and the voice of gladness are heard again in the cities and the hills of Israel." Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 10:28 P.M. (L)