Visit of Prime Minister Begin Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony
(March 21, 1978)
THE PRESIDENT. It's with great pleasure that I, on behalf of the people of the United States, welcome to our country again Prime Minister Begin of the great and courageous state of Israel.
Our mutual commitment to the search for a permanent peace in the Middle East is exemplified by the fact that this is our third meeting personally within the last year. In 2 months we will all be celebrating the 30th anniversary. of the founding of the nation of Israel.
We have a commitment to the preservation of Israel as a nation, to the security of Israel, the right of the Israeli people, who have suffered so much, to live in peace that is absolutely permanent and unshakable.
The ties that bind the people of the United States and the people of Israel together, the ties of blood, kinship, ties of history, ties of common religious beliefs, the dream, centuries old, of the founding of the new nation of Israel have been realized. But the dream that the new nation of Israel should be guaranteed a right to live in peace has not yet been realized for its people and those who love Israel around the world.
This dream has been prevented by the shackles of potential war, and have prevented the pursuit of justice and the reduction in human suffering which has so long been a characteristic of Jews everywhere.
Since 1967 we've been working in a concerted way with the leaders of the Israeli Government, trying to bring the prospects and the realization of peace. For 10 years, under the broad scope of United Nations Resolution 242, this search bas been going on in a concerted way.
And last November, with the dramatic welcoming of President Sadat to Jerusalem by Prime Minister Begin and the Israeli people, the hopes of the world were raised.
Those bright days of new opportunity have now been clouded over, and the recent cowardly and unjustified attack by terrorists on innocent civilians in Israel have resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives and tens of thousands of people who are now homeless.
We still hope and pray for an end to the disputes which would almost instantaneously transform the lives of the people of the Middle East into ones of hope, friendship, trade, prosperity, brotherhood, and peace.
Those hopes have not and will not be abandoned. Israel is now, militarily and in many other ways, stronger than ever before in history, and with this strength in physical terms and with this strength of the leadership of Israel rests the prospects for a resolution of the difficulties that have so long divided the people of the Middle East.
Peace can come from a guarantee of security, and our staunch friendship for Israel will continue to be a major element in this foundation for progress.
We welcome this morning Prime Minister Begin, a man of destiny who has had thrust upon his able shoulders the responsibilities for the future of his own people, of the people in the Middle East, and indeed, of those who love peace around the world.
Mr. Prime Minister, you are welcome to our country.
THE PRIME MINISTER. Mr. President, I thank you for your kindness and hospitality in inviting me again to the White House, together with my friend and colleague the Foreign Minister, Moshe Dayan, to conduct important talks with you, Secretary of State, and your advisers about the main issues concerning the Middle East and the peacemaking process.
Admittedly, Mr. President, these are times of trial. Only 10 days ago Israel got another reminder of what character is the implacable enemy she faces, what is its design's and methods toward men, women, and children, citizens of our country.
We believe that we shall overcome, because this is our duty to our people and to humanity, and with our deep faith in freedom and in justice, I can say again we shall overcome.
Israel contributed seriously to the peacemaking process in the Middle East. For the first time the Government of Israel elaborated and produced a detailed peace plan, a most forthcoming plan. And I brought this plan, after my visit to you, Mr. President, in December, also, during the Ismailia conference, to the President of Egypt.
May I be permitted to say, Mr. President, that the atmosphere which prevailed in December during our conference and later on at Ismailia was of understanding, of real friendship, of openness. The same applies to the meeting in Jerusalem between President Sadat and myself. Those are encounters of the most positive character, and we can only pray today that the spirit of Jerusalem, of Washington, and of Ismailia be renewed.
This will mean real progress toward establishment of peace in the Middle East—our dream, our innermost wish.
Mr. President, you also stressed the friendship of the United States for my country. I am grateful. I believe this friendship between the American and the Israeli peoples is everlasting, and we find proof time and again of this mutual friendship.
I wish again to thank you for the sentiments of deep humanity you expressed in your cable to me after that unspeakable atrocity 10 days ago.
On the basis of such understanding we shall continue to build our common future as free, democratic nations, and with the spirit of those days, which I mentioned, we shall also make real progress towards the establishment of a just and durable, real peace in the Middle East for which we yearn and which is so necessary to Israel and to the Arab countries.
Again, Mr. President, I thank you for your wonderful hospitality on behalf of the Foreign Minister, all our advisers, and myself, and I do hope that .our talks today and tomorrow in the White House will deepen the friendship between our two countries.
Source: Public Papers of the President