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Address by Prime Minister Rabin to AIPAC Convention

(March 21, 1993)

The serious deterioration in the security situation in Israel, including the murder of four Israelis in one week, obliged Mr. Rabin to return to Israel. He spoke to the AIPAC convention by satellite, outlining the results of his talks with the Clinton Administration and called on AIPAC to continue its important mission. Excerpts of his address as well as answers to some questions follow:

The president of AIPAC, Dr. Stephen Friedman, the Ambassador of Israel, Itamar Rabinovitch, the distinguished members of the head table, the members and the friends of AIPAC.

I speak to you from Jerusalem at a period in which Israel struggles simultaneously on two fronts: on the efforts of the peace negotiations to end the long Arab-Israeli conflict, to bring an end to the continued bloodshed on both sides, and at the same time, to cope with the violence and terrorism that tried to interfere - in the efforts to resume the peace negotiations and to conclude them properly.

It's a period which is not simple. It's not so simple to explain to the people of Israel that we had to negotiate with partners that at the same time use violence, be it from Lebanon by Hizballah - be it by the Palestinians from the territories, they're trying to kill Israelis by knifing in the streets of Tel Aviv or to kill people who work in the fields and to antagonize our soldiers in the territories.

I believe that Israel and the present Government will be determined to cope with the terror as though there are no negotiations but to continue with the peace negotiations as though there is no terror.

This is the way to end the long conflict and at the same time to give the maximum security nationally and personally to the people of Israel.

Allow me to apologize that I am not with you at this meeting. I believe that I had to cut short my visit to the United States because the last week was a painful week. Four Israelis were assassinated, killed, soldiers and civilians. Many attempts were made on the life of the Israelis and I believe that I had to be here in the cabinet meeting today, in the Knesset meeting tomorrow. I believe that the ambassador of Israel will represent Israel and myself in the most excellent way.

I feel that I have to report to you the results of my meeting with President Clinton, the secretary of state, the vice-president, the secretary of defense, and many distinguished members of the Administration, and, of course, the leadership and the members of the two Houses on the Hill.

Allow me first to say that I came back home with great confidence in the president of the United States and his Administration, his friendliness to Israel, his readiness to assist Israel in our effort to achieve peace, and to maintain our security.

The policy of my Government is to achieve peace and security. And no doubt there is nothing more important to the region, to the countries of the people and to Israel than to achieve this goal. And I believe that in achieving this goal, both sides have to make compromises. Peace you make - not with friends, but with your enemies and, therefore, there is a need to solve practical issues and to overcome psychological barriers - barriers that have been built in tens of years of violence, war, terror, hatred on both sides, and backlogs of negative emotions.

It's not a simple mission. But we are determined to continue with the peace negotiations. I was more than pleased that when I said to President Clinton that we are ready to take risks, calculated risks, for the achievement of peace, his answer was, "When you take risks to peace, it's our responsibility, the United States' responsibility, to minimize your risk by assisting you militarily and economically."

I more than appreciate this statement by President Clinton. In the long discussions that we have had, I believe that we succeeded to cover all the problems that are related first to the resumption of the peace negotiations; second, in which direction to go to the extent that it will be possible together on the three different Arab delegations in their negotiations with us...

I have met 47 senators, 61 members of the House of Representatives. I met the leadership of the two Houses. I met the Committees on Foreign Affairs and Defense of the two Houses, and, of course, many friends of Israel on the Hill.

I found understanding, but at the same time, I sense also that the issue of the Foreign Aid Bill is not the most popular nowadays in the United States and on the Hill.

I asked all the friends of Israel, first and foremost the AIPAC people, AIPAC activists, to make sure that what the Administration, the president had proposed in the budget for fiscal year '94 will be supported in the Congress and all the items that are related first and foremost, the military and the economic aid, joint ventures in the field of defense, joint ventures in the field of research and development, really will be carried out. I am sure it will serve the interests of our two countries.

And no doubt, last, not least, I met the leadership of the Jewish community of the United States, our friends, our partners, that together we have gone a long way in which we assisted one another and we succeeded to achieve the dream of generations of Jews in the last 2,000 years, the revival of a Jewish state in the only place in which a Jewish state can be created, developed and achieve its goal: in the land of Israel.

I am more than thankful to you, members and leadership, of AIPAC. From time to time, we had differences, but I am sure that there is no more effective organization of American people who are ready to support, to help Israel in the fields of its activity.

You are the most effective American Jewish and non-Jewish organization that so much helped Israel, brought the message of Israel from the American point of view, not only from the Israeli point of view, but first and foremost, you have done what you have done and assisted us so much as Americans from the interest, the real interest of the United States that has tried and tries to achieve tranquility, stability, peace in the region, which can only be achieved with a strong Israel that aspires to peace and it's ready to defend itself by itself without depending on American military forces to come to its assistance.

Allow me to say to you that I am sure that I express the feelings of the people of Israel, regardless of parties, in giving you our thanks and asking you to continue your holy work for the State of Israel, for the good relations between our two countries.

Q: What more can the United States do to ensure that Israel maintains its qualitative edge?

Prime Minister Rabin: Well, this was one of the issues that I discussed with President Clinton, the secretary of state, and in more detail in the Pentagon with the secretary of defense,

I believe that the United States allows us to maintain the qualitative edge by the structure, and maintaining the same structure of the FMS money, that as the result of it, we can spend over $400 million in Israel in r[esearch] and d[evelopment] and production in Israeli institutions, to adjust our needs, our military needs, that are unique to us in our conditions, assisted by American technology and by our capability, based on our unfortunately rich combat experience.

Second, by the continuation of the support to the Arrow project. Today, Israel is in the lead in the development of ATBM, anti-tactical ballistic missile. We have done so in close cooperation with American officers and officials. It's an integrated Israeli- American project. We succeeded in proving the technological feasibility of such an interception of a ground-to-ground technical missile by the interceptor missile and after the successful experiment or test, I am sure that we'll gain support.

Thirdly, in allowing us access to the arsenal of the advanced conventional American weapons, I believe that what has been done will continue and will be increased. The president understands very well that Israel has to compensate inferiority in numbers by superiority in the quality of weapons and no doubt of the people that operate them.

Q: We will be going to Capitol Hill to visit with members of Congress in the Senate on Tuesday morning. Two thousand of us will be going. What particular message did you bring to Capitol Hill on how Congress can support the peace process that we should know about as we go to spend some time with our members of Congress and our Senate members on Tuesday morning?

Prime Minister Rabin: First, thank you very much for your decision to go there and to try to convince the senators, the congressmen, of the need of Israel in this period when we, on one hand making real effort, readiness on our part for compromises, taking risks for peace to ensure that the United States will support these efforts by Israel as the president said, by minimizing our risk by military aid and economic aid, understanding of the threat of the Islamic extremist terror groups, not only to Israel. Look what happened in Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon; all are inspired, organized and instigated by Iran. It's a threat to all moderate regimes. It's a threat to the efforts for the continuation of the peace negotiations.

The United States has to continue its support and to prove to the region, to the peoples, to the countries, that it is ready to assist those who seek peace and ready to bring economic and social reform and to try to contain the trend, the dangerous trend of the Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organizations and the country that backs them.

Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs