THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Thursday, March 18, 1999
A LEADER FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Today, the people of the Middle East still have the chance to build a secure peace ... I can hear the voices of Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein speaking to us today, saying, push ahead with the peace process, build on Oslo and Wye River, before it is too late. But today, their voices must be embodied by our actions ... We need friends of peace.
President Bill Clinton
March 18, 1999
Partners in Peace President Clinton and Yitzhak Rabin shared a commitment to securing a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East. Before the Prime Minister's tragic death, the two leaders achieved much towards making peace a reality, including:
- Forging agreements that led to the Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles in September 1993 and Interim Agreement on Palestinian self-rule in September 1995;
- Brokering the Israeli-Jordan Peace Treaty in October 1994;
- Facilitating peace talks between Israel and Syria; and
- Negotiating new agreements to secure the Israel-Lebanon border.
The Shalom Chaver Award for International Leadership – which the President and the First Lady receive today, and which takes its name from President Clinton's farewell words the Yitzhak Rabin – is a tribute to the late Prime Minister and honors individuals for their commitment to peace in the Middle East and around the world.
A Continued Commitment to Peace. President Clinton has continued his commitment to peace in the Middle East, helping to broker the Wye River Memorandum last fall. This agreement, which strengthens Israel's security, expands the area of Palestinian control in the West Bank, and enhances opportunities for the Israeli and Palestinian people, includes:
- A comprehensive security agreement designed to curd violence in the region and strengthen Israel's security;
- Israeli troop redeployment from an additional 13% of the West Bank;
- The transfer of an additional 14.2% of jointly-controlled territory to Palestinian control;
- Reaffirmation of changes in the Palestinian National Charter to revoke language calling for the destruction of Israel;
- Concrete steps by the Palestinians Authority to stop incitement against Israel;
- The phased release of 750 Palestinian prisoners;
- The opening of Gaza International Airport and the Gaza Industrial Estate.
Progress has been made towards implementation of the agreement – Israeli has begun transferring territory and redeploying troops, and the Palestinians reaffirmed changes to their National Charter during President Clinton's trip to the Middle East in December. The President remains steadfast in his support for on-going implementation of the agreement to ensure a secure, just and lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike.