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Bill Clinton Administration: Speech on Arrival in Tel Aviv, Israel

(March 13, 1996)

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 al-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 al-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 al-Sheikh was a beginning. Tomorrow we will press forward when I and senior administration officials meet with the Prime Minister and his key security advisers. 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.

Sources: Public Papers of the President