THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Monday, October 26, 1998
WORKING TO BRING PEACE TO THE MIDDLE EAST
The future can be bright for Israelis and Palestinians if they maintain the will for peace. If we continue to work together, the next generation will grow up without fear. Israel can have the genuine security and recognition it has sought for so long. The Palestinian people can, at long last, realize their aspirations to live free, in safety, in charge of their own destiny.
-- President Bill Clinton
On Friday, after nine days of negotiations at the Wye Conference Center in Maryland, President Clinton welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat to the White House to sign an agreement that will strengthen Israeli security, expand the area of Palestinian control in the West Bank, and enhance opportunities for the Israeli and Palestinian people. This agreement continues the progress made toward bringing a lasting peace to the Middle East.
Presidential Support Helped Broker This Important Agreement. President Clinton has been deeply involved in peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians since the Oslo Accords in 1993, which set a timetable for negotiations between the two parties to settle outstanding issues. President Clinton invested an enormous amount of time and energy over the past two weeks to ensure that the negotiations at the Wye Conference Center would result in an agreement to resolve divisive interim issues and move on to final settlement talks. This round of negotiations began at the President's urging and reflects the President's ongoing role as mediator and catalyst in the peace process.
A Comprehensive Agreement That Meets The Concerns Of Both Parties. The agreement reached by the Israelis and Palestinians meets both security and land concerns expressed by both parties. This agreement includes the following provisions:
- A comprehensive security agreement designed to curb violence in the region and strengthen Israeli security;
- Israeli troop redeployment from an additional 13 percent of the West Bank;
- Transfer of an additional 14.2 percent of jointly controlled territory to Palestinian control;
- Reaffirmation of changes in the Palestinian National Charter to delete language calling for the destruction of Israel;
- Steps by the Palestinian Authority to stop incitement against Israel;
- The phased release of 750 Palestinian prisoners;
- The opening of an airport in Gaza and an industrial zone;
- The opening of corridors of safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank;
- Accelerating discussion on opening a seaport in Gaza;
- Israeli approval of additional re-unification of Palestinian families;
- Allowing students in Gaza to travel to the West Bank and vice versa.
A Continuing Commitment To Achieving A Lasting Peace In The Middle East. With the signing of this interim agreement, the parties can now focus on the remaining issues that need to be resolved to ensure full implementation of the Oslo Accords. Permanent status talks will begin shortly to address these issues and the President has agreed to convene both leaders at an appropriate time to facilitate these talks. The President has accepted an invitation to address members of the Palestinian National Council and other important political entities to reaffirm America's commitment and support for the peace process. The President is also calling on Congress to support this endeavor through aid to Israel as it redeploys its forces, and to Palestinians to accelerate their economic development. As these negotiations continue, President Clinton remains steadfast in his determination to see this process through, to help ensure a secure, just, and lasting peace, for the sake of Israelis and Palestinians alike, for their children and generations to come.