Clinton on the Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles
(September 10, 1993)
The President. Ladies and gentlemen, today marks a shining moment of hope for the people of the Middle East and, indeed, of the entire world. The Israelis and the Palestinians have now agreed upon a declaration of principles on interim self-government that opens the door to a comprehensive and lasting settlement.
This declaration represents an historic and honorable compromise between two peoples who have been locked in a bloody struggle for almost a century. Too many have suffered for too long. The agreement is a bold breakthrough. The Palestinian Liberation Organization openly and unequivocally has renounced the use of violence and has pledged to live in peace with Israel. Israel, in turn, has announced its recognition of the PLO.
I want to express my congratulations and praise for the courage and the vision displayed by the Israeli and Palestinian leadership and for the crucially helpful role played by Norway.
For too long the history of the Middle East has been defined in terms of violence and bloodshed. Today marks the dawning of a new era. Now there is an opportunity to define the future of the Middle East in terms of reconciliation and coexistence and the opportunities that children growing up there will have whether they are Israeli or Palestinian.
I want to express the full support of the United States for this dramatic and promising step. For more than a quarter of a century our Nation has been directly engaged in efforts to resolve the Middle East conflict. We have done so because it reflects our finest values and our deepest interests, our interests in a stable Middle East where Israelis and Arabs can live together in harmony and develop the potential of their region, which is tremendous. From Camp David to Madrid to the signing ceremony that will take place at the White House on Monday, administration after administration has facilitated this difficult but essential quest. From my first day in office, Secretary Christopher and I have made this a priority. We are resolved to continue this process to achieve a comprehensive Arab-Israeli resolution.
In 1990, the United States suspended the U.S.-PLO dialog begun 2 years earlier following an act of terrorism committed against Israel by a faction of the PLO. Yesterday Yasser Arafat wrote to Prime Minister Rabin, committing the PLO to accept Israel's right to exist in peace and security, to renounce terrorism, to take responsibility for the actions of its constituent groups, to discipline those elements who violate these new commitments, and to nullify key elements of the Palestinian covenant that denied Israel's right to exist. These PLO commitments justify a resumption of our dialog. As a result and in light of this week's events, I have decided to resume the dialog and the contacts between the United States and the PLO.
The path ahead will not be easy. These new understandings, impressive though they are, will not erase the fears and suspicions of the past. But now the Israelis and the Palestinians have laid the foundations of hope. The United States will continue to be a full and an active partner in the negotiations that lie ahead, to ensure that this promise of progress is fully realized.
All the peoples of the Middle East deserve the blessings of peace. I pledge to join them in our help and our support to achieve that objective. I look forward to joining with Russia, our cosponsor in the Middle East peace process, and with the people of the world in witnessing the historic signing on Monday.
I also want to say I am very grateful for the overwhelming support this agreement has generated among members of both parties in the United States Congress. I especially thank leaders in the Congress from both parties who have foreign policy responsibilities who have come to meet with me this morning in the White House, many of whom have stayed on for this statement.
This is a time for bipartisan support for this agreement and, indeed, a bipartisan effort to reassert and define America's role in a very new world. We were talking today in our meeting about how this period is not unlike the late 1940's, a time in which America was the first nation to recognize Israel, in which we formed the United Nations and other international institutions in an attempt to work toward the world which everyone hoped would follow from World War II.
Once again we must develop a strong philosophy and a practical set of institutions that can permit us to follow our values and our interests and to work for a more peaceful, a more humane, and a more democratic world. This is an enormous step toward that larger goal. And I think all Americans should be grateful for the opportunity that we have been presented to help to make this historic peace work.
Source: Public Papers of the President