President Clinton on the Terrorist Attack in Israel and an Exchange With Reporters
(March 4, 1996)
The President. I want to express my deep anger at the news of this latest bombing in Israel and to reaffirm the determination of the United States to do all we can to work with our friends in the Middle East to stop the killing, to bring the killers to justice, and ensure that terrorism does not triumph over peace in the Middle East.
Once again the enemies of peace have murdered completely innocent Israeli citizens, including children, in their hysterical, determined, fanatic attempt to kill all hope of peace between Israel and Palestinians and others in the Middle East. We must again state our determination that these forces of terror shall not triumph.
Together with those who have worked so hard for lasting peace in the Middle East, the United States is committed to confronting this challenge and to prevailing over these forces of hate and violence. As we offer our prayers for the victims of the latest tragedy, we also reaffirm our commitment to the peace.
As I said earlier this morning and I would like to repeat again, it is ironic that I'm here in this community where I was slated to come last November but had to put it off to go to Israel for Prime Minister Rabin's funeral. The forces which led to his killing, as much as they claim to hate the forces that have been behind this latest round of bombing of innocent Israeli citizens, have one thing in common: They live for division. They live for the continuation of the violence and the hatred in the Middle East. They are even willing, as we see today, to kill themselves, members of their own groups, just to keep people living on hatred and division.
We must not give in to that. We must fight it. We must fight it with all the resources at our command. And the United States will do everything we can to support Israel and the other friends of peace in the Middle East.
Q. Mr. President, are you convinced that Yasser Arafat has done all that he can to control Hamas? Many Israelis believe that he has just turned a blind eye and has talked about things, but not really done what needs to be done.
The President. Because it is a relatively new government it may be impossible ever to know for sure. But I am convinced that he wants peace. And I am convinced that he will now answer the call that I have issued, that the Israeli Prime Minister has issued, that others have issued, to do more.
And what I want to say to all my fellow Americans, what you are seeing here is an example of what has the potential to infect other countries all across the world. You saw it in the Japanese subway. You saw it in the Oklahoma City bombing. You see this going around the world, but it is more prevalent, more sustained, more well-organized in the Middle East. And there are people there really literally willing to die just to keep the division and the hatred and the violence going.
I believe that Mr. Arafat will have to do more. I believe everyone else will have to do more. He will have to do everything he can up to the limits of whatever capacities they have, and the rest of us will have to do our part as well.
Q. Have you talked to him?
Q. To follow on that, sir, do you think the Israelis should exercise restraint and not retaliate?
The President. I think that we will have to do—we have to stand with the proposition that those who are responsible for this should be held accountable for it. And we will do what we can to support them in that regard.
Thank you very much.
Source: Public Papers of the President