Office of the Press Secretary: Remarks by President Clinton at Arrival Ceremony in Tel Aviv

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 13, 1998


Ben Gurion International Airport Tel Aviv, Israel

12:00 A.M. (L)

PRESIDENT WEIZMAN: Mr. President, on behalf of the people ofIsrael I wish to welcome you, Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Clinton:Bruchim Ha'baim.

This is your fourth visit to Israel as President of the UnitedStates of America. This proves the depth and the quality of the relationsbetween Israel and the United States, as well as the concern and theinvolvement of the American people and its government in the security andwelfare of the people of Israel. It also proves, Mr. President, yourpersonal interest in the progress of the peace process. This became evenmore clear recently through your persevering efforts and those of theparties to the Wye agreement, which eventually led to Israel's signing.

Mr. President, the hour now is late, but it is the hour oftruth. It is important for me to emphasize to you my decisive opinion,which also represents the aim for peace of the people of Israel. For 30years, I fought in the wars of Israel. And for the past 20 years, I'vebeen fighting for peace. The State of Israel in its jubilee year can claimoutstanding achievements. However, the words of the prophet, "and theyshall beat the swords into plowshares and the spears into pruning hooks"have not yet been fulfilled.

During your visit you will be able to ascertain that thepeople of Israel yearn for peace and security. Touring the country youwill witness their eagerness for peace. We have gone a long way in thepeace process, but there are still difficulties to be overcome. However, Ibelieve that we will succeed in reaching a peaceful assessment because, inthe words of one of our popular songs, we cannot stop in the middle of thismelody.

Mr. President, we are very happy to have you with us andwelcome you with open arms and with best wishes for the success in yourundertaking. Welcome, Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Clinton.

Thank you. (Applause.)

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Mr. President, Sara and I want towelcome you, Hillary and Chelsea, as well as the Secretary of State withyour entire delegation, to your visit to the State of Israel. It is anhonor and a pleasure for all of us to host you in our country. And thatthis is your fourth visit to Israel is testament to your personalfriendship and also for the warm feelings that the people of Israel sharein return.

Your visit is also an affirmation of the special relationshipbetween our two countries. I think it's a relationship with few equals inthe history of nations. This was true in the first days of the State whenthe U.S. was the first power to recognize Israel. And it is very much truetoday, when your administration has undertaken to bolster securitycooperation between our countries against new kinds of threats in ourregion and in our world. Our cooperation has been vital for Israel'spursuit of peace. Only an Israel certain of its security and certain ofits strength can impress its neighbors with the futility of war and withthe need for peace.

Mr. President, I don't believe I have to stress yet again thatall the people of Israel want peace. The first great exponents of peacewere the Hebrew prophets who lived and preached in our eternal capital,Jerusalem, and in many of the places that you will visit in the next threedays. And this yearning for peacehas been reflected in our Jewish tradition for centuries, and 50 years agoin our Declaration of Independence, which offered the hand of peace to allour neighbors.

That offer is extended very much today as well. We extend ourhand to the Syrians and the Lebanese to revive the process that would bringan end to conflict. And we extend our hand to our Palestinian neighbors tocomplete a genuine peace with us. We are willing to carry out theagreements we have signed, but we must insist and ensure that thePalestinians carry out their part, as well. For if this century has taughtus anything it is that peace agreements in themselves do not necessarilybring about peace. Sometimes the exact opposite can happen.

You, yourself, Mr. President, have wisely said that agreementswithout compliance are worthless. And this is a fundamental truth.Agreements not anchored in security, agreements which only serve to concealbelligerent aims, agreements brazenly flouted and violated with violenceinevitably lead not to peace but to the continuation and intensification ofconflict. And what we must ensure is a peace with full compliance, a peacewhich will endure for decades and not for the next newscast. It mustenable Israelis and Palestinians to live in tranquility and securitywithout the constant threat of new eruptions of violence. We must,therefore, seek compliance without letup. This means that our partnersmust honor the agreements with deeds and not only with promises that alltoo often prove empty; with implementation, not with signatures.

This also means that our partners must totally and permanentlydiscard incitement, violence and terrorism. Above all, our partners mustrealize that genuine peace can only be achieved through negotiations, notthrough unilateral attempts to decide issues which can only be settled bymutual consent. Only by negotiating the issues at hand for as long as ittakes to achieve agreement and by full consent to abide by the outcome ofthe negotiations can we get the kind of peace that we all want.

It must be honestly said, Mr. President, that in the last fewweeks our partners have not kept these commitments and have reverted topast practices. It is my hope that a way will be found to get thePalestinians to permanently and swiftly comply with their commitments andthereby re-inject hope into our quest for peace.

With your permission, Mr. President, I would like to say a fewsentences in Hebrew to the people of Israel.

(Translation to be provided.)

Mr. President, your visit here can contribute materially tothe great change that is required to put peace back on track. We wish youwith all our heart, as we wish ourselves, success in this vital effort tobring about a real peace, a genuine peace, a durable one -- the kind ofpeace our great prophets envisioned and for which the people of Israel havebeen yearning for so many years. Welcome, Mr. President and Mrs. Clinton,to Israel. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT CLINTON: President and Mrs. Weizman, Prime Ministerand Mrs. Netanyahu, first of all, on behalf of my family and our entiredelegation, I would like to thank you for coming out here at this very latehour to welcome us. Hillary and Chelsea and I and all the Americans havebeen looking forward to this trip. I am delighted to be back in Israel.

As President Weizman said, this is the fourth time I have comehere as President to reaffirm America's unbreakable ties to Israel, toreaffirm our unshakable commitment to Israel's security; and this time tofulfill the pledge I made at the Wye talks to speak with the people ofIsrael and the Palestinians about the benefits of peace and to stand by youas you take risks for a just, lasting and secure peace. The United Stateswill walk this road with Israel every step of the way.

Peacemaking has opened historic opportunities to Israel, buteach step forward has been tempered with pain and understandable feelingsof ambivalence when questions arise as to whether agreements are beingimplemented fully.

We share the conviction that without security the peaceprocess always will be clouded for the vast majority of Israelis who seekonly to live normal lives as a free people in their own country, and we aredetermined that Israel's just requirements for security be met. At thesame time, we believe that for two peoples who are fated to share this landpeace is not simply an option among many, but the only choice that canavert still more years of bloodshed, apprehension and sorrow.

That is why I am here. In the past few weeks, the people ofIsrael, through their government and Knesset have endorsed the Wye Riveragreement, recognizing the promise it holds for putting the peace processon track and creating a positive environment for dealing with the complexand difficult final status talks.

I want to, again, but for the first time in Israel, paytribute to the Prime Minister and the representatives of his government forthose long, arduous, difficult talks at Wye, often accompanied withsleepless nights. I believe it was the right thing to do. I believed itthen. I believe it now.

But both sides now must face the challenge of implementingWye. I will discuss that with the Prime Minster and his colleaguestomorrow and later in my meeting with Chairman Arafat. Then on Tuesday ourfamily will have the chance to go to Bethlehem and Masada to explore moreof this magnificent country and its sacred heritage.

Again, I thank you for welcoming us. I thank you for thestruggles you have waged for freedom and for security. I thank you for theefforts you now make for peace. It is good to be back.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)


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Office of the Press Secretary: Remarks by President Clinton at Arrival Ceremony in Tel Aviv

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