8/11/00 Interview of the President With Al Hayat
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
        (Aboard Air Force One en route to Los Angeles, California)
For Immediate Release                                   August 11, 2000

                       INTERVIEW WITH THE PRESIDENT
                               WITH AL HAYAT

                              August 10, 2000

     Q:   Do you have any special message for the Arab world after Camp

     THE PRESIDENT: We have in the next few months an historic chance to
resolve the Palestinian issue.  It is the core of the Arab-Israeli
conflict, and we can and must resolve it on a basis that's fair, honorable
and lasting.  Together, we need to seize this opportunity or it will be
lost.  The parties cannot do it alone.  We need the help of our Arab
friends in the region.  And we need an approach that resolves problems in a
practical and fair way so that the principles that guide Arab-Israeli peace
-- comprehensiveness and implementation of United Nations Security
Resolutions 242 and 338, including land for peace -- can be realized in a
way that meets the needs of both sides.  What is fair and just for
Palestinians and Arabs must also be fair and just for Israelis.  There
cannot be a winner and a loser in these negotiations.  We must have two
winners or we will lose the peace.

     I know that there is a deep sense of grievance in the Arab world, and
through nearly eight years of working for peace alongside Chairman Arafat,
I understand the suffering and pain of the Palestinians.  But I also know
that the only pathway to realize Palestinian aspirations is through
negotiations, through the process of give and take where each side can have
its needs met and its hopes realized.  I urge all those in this region
committed to peace to join with me and to seize this historic moment.

     The opportunity to work for a lasting peace between the Palestinian
and Israeli people has been among the most meaningful and rewarding aspects
of my Presidency.  I am motivated in these efforts by the possibility of a
better future for all of the peoples in the region.  We must all remain
focused on this better future - a future in which the Palestinian people
might finally achieve through negotiations their aspiration of a
Palestinian state recognized by and integrated with the world, at peace and
working to address the needs of the Palestinian people.

     Q:   How would you characterize the American role during Camp David
talks?  Do you see that role evolving in the future, and if so, in what

     THE PRESIDENT: The talks at Camp David were revolutionary in their
detail, their directness, and their honesty about what each side needed to
reach an agreement.  I worked personally -- sometimes all night long --
with both sides to advance this process.  Both sides -- both Chairman
Arafat and Prime Minister Barak -- worked hard and in good faith on
difficult problems.  Sometimes we proposed ideas, suggestions, even
language.  We made progress across the board.  At the same time, our role
was not and will never be a substitute for direct Israeli-Palestinian
engagement.  We will need both levels of interaction to reach an agreement.

     You have repeatedly urged the two sides of the conflict not to take
any unilateral action that could block progress in the peace process,
however, you told Israeli television in your recent interview that you are
reviewing the decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem by the end of the
year.  Don't you consider this announcement a contradiction of the stated
American policy and an impediment to your peace efforts?

     From the beginning of my Administration one factor has guided me:  to
take no action that I judged would harm the peace process.  That still is
my guiding principle.  The two weeks I spent at Camp David underscores my
commitment to doing everything I can to help both sides reach an agreement.

     With regard to the Embassy, I stated that I would review the issue by
the end of the year and I will do so.  It is my great hope that by then
Israelis and Palestinians -- with our help -- will have reached an
agreement on Jerusalem that meets their needs.  Then I would also be able
to inaugurate an American embassy in the capital of a Palestinian state.  I
firmly believe that the Jerusalem problem can be resolved in a way in which
both sides' national aspirations can be realized.

     Many Arabs consider President Clinton as the most sympathetic to the
suffering of the Palestinian people and their political aspirations and the
only leader in their history to have achieved breakthroughs in the
Arab-Israeli conflict.  Are you concerned that taking a position in the
issue of Jerusalem at this stage would hurt not only Arabs, but Muslims and
Christians around the world?

     I have worked hard to understand the plight of the Palestinian people
- to understand their aspirations, their losses and their frustrations.  My
trip to Gaza, and the opportunity to address the Palestinian National
Council with Chairman Arafat was critical to this process and a great honor
for me.

     I am guided in my efforts by one central goal: the need to promote a
fair and honorable solution to each of the core issues that both sides find
acceptable.  Jerusalem is a difficult issue because of its critical
importance to Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.  It is a unique problem
which requires a unique solution.  In this regard, Jerusalem is really
three cities:  it is a municipal city like any other with problems of
environment, traffic control, and city services; it is a holy city which
embodies the values of three great religious traditions and which contains
religious sites sacred to three religions; and it is a political city which
symbolizes the national aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians.
Resolving the issue of Jerusalem means dealing with all three of these
dimensions in a way that harms no one's interests and promotes the
interests of all.  And I believe it can be done.

     The Camp David summit was a landmark in terms of tackling for the
first time the core issues, and at the same time it did not produce the
hoped-for final agreement.  Are you worried that reducing your personal
involvement in the process would lead to a speedy deterioration of the

     One of the remarkable aspects of the Camp David experience was that
Israelis and Palestinians engaged on the core issues in an unprecedented
manner.  They broke taboos and discussed issues seriously, and not on the
basis of mere rhetoric and slogans.  I am ready to do my part.  To do so
effectively, both sides will need to be ready to make historic decisions
and, on the most sensitive issues, recognize that both must be satisfied.

     Q:  Did you receive a letter from Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat
recently?  What can you tell us about it?

     THE PRESIDENT:  One of the reasons Arabs and Israelis continue to look
to the United States for help is that we protect their confidences.  I have
great respect for Chairman Arafat and I'm sure you understand that I'm not
going to start now by talking publicly about letters either from him or
Prime Minister Barak.

     Q:  Are you willing to issue an unconditional invitation for Arafat
and Prime Minister Barak to come to Washington and give peace another shot?

     THE PRESIDENT: I'm willing to do anything if it will help Israelis and
Palestinians reach an agreement.  At the same time I know that the two
sides need to reflect on what happened at Camp David, and work together.
Without an Israeli-Palestinian foundation on the substance of the issues,
the United States cannot play its role effectively.  That process got a big
boost at Camp David.  It needs to be continued now.  Both leaders must be
ready to make historic decisions.

     Q:  There has been criticism of Egypt's role.  What is your view?

     THE PRESIDENT: The fact is that all that has happened since the
original Camp David in September 1978, including Madrid and Oslo, is a
vindication of the courageous and visionary policy of Egypt.  Egypt was a
pioneer for peace and continues to be a key partner for the United States.
We agree on the fundamentals of the peace process and we will not be able
to reach an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on these core issues without
close consultation with Egypt.  We are engaged in such a process today.


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