Remarks of the President Upon Leaving for Camp David (7/11/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
_________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                     July 11, 2000


                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                        UPON LEAVING FOR CAMP DAVID
                   TO OPEN THE MIDDLE EAST PEACE SUMMIT

                               South Portico


10:38 A.M. EDT


          THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  As all of you know, I am now
leaving for Camp David to join Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat in
their effort to reach agreement on the core issues the have divided
Israelis and Palestinians for half a century now.

          The two leaders face profound and wrenching questions, and there
can be no success without principled compromise.  The road to peace, as
always, is a two-way street.  Both leaders feel the weight of history, but
both, I believe, recognize this is a moment in history which they can
seize.  We have an opportunity to bring about a just and enduring end to
the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.  That is the key to lasting peace in the
entire Middle East.  Of course, there is no guarantee of success, but not
to try is to guarantee failure.

          The path ahead builds on the journey already taken from the first
Camp David Summit to Madrid to Oslo; to the first handshake on the lawn
between Prime Minister Rabin and Chairman Arafat; to the peace between
Israel and Jordan and the agreement at Wye River.  The parties have proven
that peace is possible when they are determined to make it.

          In the process, they have passed the point of no return.  The
only way forward now is forward.  Both sides must find a way to resolve
competing claims, to give their children the gift of peace.  It will take
patience and creativity and courage.  But Prime Minister Barak and Chairman
Arafat have those qualities, or they would not have come this far.

          They will also have the unstinting and unequivocal support of the
United States.  I'll do everything I can over the coming days to see that
this moment of promise is fulfilled.  And I hope that those leaders will
have the thoughts and prayers and support of all Americans.

          Thank you very much.

          Q    Mr. President, having barely survived the no confidence
vote, does Prime Minister Barak come here with a handicap?  Can he
negotiate with the full weight of the Knesset and the Israeli people behind
him?

          THE PRESIDENT:  First of all, I'll say what I said yesterday --
the polls show, in Israel, that well over half the people support his
coming here and believe he ought to work for peace.  Secondly, he has
promised to put whatever agreement is reached here, if an agreement is
reached, to a vote of the people.

          So they have nothing to lose.  They'll have final say anyway.
There ought to be 100 percent support for his coming here, because the
people will be the ultimate deciders on the question.  So I think that that
is fine.  And, yes, he had an eight-vote margin yesterday; I would remind
you that on most of the days when Yitzhak Rabin came here, he had a
one-vote margin in the Knesset.

          So I think we're in as good a shape as we're ever going to get,
and we might as well just go to work.  Thank you very much.

                          END         10:43 A.M. EDT



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