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Bill Clinton Administration: Speech at the Signing Ceremony for the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty

(October 26, 1994)

King Hussein, President Weizman, Prime Minister Rabin, Prime Minister Majali, Crown Prince Hassan, Foreign Minister Peres, Foreign Minister Kozyrev, Mr. Secretary of State; to the people of Jordan and Israel, with a special thanks to those who are our cheering section up there—[laughter]—we thank you all.

At the dawn of this peace of a generation, in this ancient place we celebrate the history and the faith of Jordanians and Israelis. But we break the chains of the past that for too long have kept you shackled in the shadows of strife and suffering. We thank those who have worked for peace before. We celebrate the efforts of brave leaders who saw the bright horizon of this dawn, even while the darkness lingered.

This vast bleached desert hides great signs of life. Today we see the proof of it, for peace between Jordan and Israel is no longer a mirage. It is real. It will take root in this soil. It will grow to great heights and shelter generations to come.

Today we honor the constant and devoted work of two courageous leaders, two who have risked everything so that their children and their children's children need fight nor fear no more.

King Hussein, today in this arid place, you bring to full flower the memory of the man who taught you to seek peace, your grandfather, King Abdullah. When he was martyred four decades ago, he left you with a great burden and a great dream. He believed that one day, on both sides of the River Jordan, Arab and Jew would live in peace. How bravely you have shouldered that burden and carried that dream. Now after so much danger and so much hardship, Your Majesty, your day has come. Truly, you have fulfilled your grandfather's legacy.

Prime Minister Rabin, you have spent a lifetime as a soldier, fighting first to establish your country and then for so long to defend it. For a lifetime, you have fought with skill and tenacity and courage, simply to achieve a secure and lasting peace for your people. Now you have given them the hope of life after the siege. In your own words, you have now given them the challenge to furnish the house of Israel and make it a home. As a general, you have won many battles through strength and courage. But now, through strength and courage, you command the army of peace, and you have won the greatest victory of all. We salute you.

As has been said before, this treaty is the product of many hands. Crown Prince Hassan and Foreign Minister Peres know better than any of us that peace does not spring full-grown. It requires cultivation. It requires patience and care. We salute their devotion and persistence, and the wise and determined counsel of Secretary Christopher. We are in all their debt, and we thank them.

I say to the people of Israel and Jordan: Now you must make this peace real, to turn no-man's land into every man's home, to take down the barbed wire, to remove the deadly mines, to help the wounds of war to heal. Open your borders. Open your hearts. Peace is more than an agreement on paper. It is feeling. It is activity. It is devotion.

The forces of terror will try to hold you back. Already they take deadly aim at the future of peace. In their zeal to kill hope and keep hatred alive, they would deny all that peace can bring to your children. We cannot, we must not, we will not let them succeed.

The United States stands with you. Since President Truman first recognized Israel, we have wished for and worked for comprehensive peace between Israel and all of her neighbors. On behalf of all Americans, including millions of Jewish and Arab Americans for whom this day means so much, I thank you for trusting America to help you arrive at this moment. The American people are very proud of the opportunity we have had.

And now let the work of progress bear fruit. Here at the first of many crossing points to be open, people from every corner of the Earth will soon come to share in the wonders of your lands. There are resources to be found in the desert, minerals to be drawn from the sea, water to be separated from salt and used to fertilize the fields. Here where slaves in ancient times were forced to take their chisels to the stone, the Earth, as the Koran says, will stir and swell and bring forth life. The desert, as Isaiah prophesied, shall rejoice and blossom.

Here your people will drink water from the same well and savor together the fruit of the vine. As you seize this moment, be assured that you will redeem every life sacrificed along the long road that brought us to this day. You will take the hatred out of hearts, and you will pass along to your children a peace for the generations.

Your Majesty, Mr. Prime Minister, here in the great Rift Valley you have bridged the tragic rift that separated your people for too long. Here in this region, which is the home of not only both your faiths but mine, I say: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall inherit the Earth.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 1:50 p.m. at the Wadi Araba border crossing. In his remarks, he referred to King Hussein,

Crown Prince Hassan, and Prime Minister Abd al-Salam al-Majali of Jordan;

President Ezer Weizman,

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin,

and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of Israel;

and Foreign Minister Andrey Kozyrev of Russia.

Sources: Public Papers of the President