Clinton's Israel speech
January 8, 2001
On his way out the Presidential door Bill Clinton went to New York City to speak
to his American Jewish supporters and further grease his way toward his future.
This is the Bill Clinton that turned the U.S. government over to the Israeli/Jewish
lobby in his years in office; of course pretending otherwise. This is the Bill
Clinton who is desperately trying to prepare a continuing role for himself with
matters Middle Eastern, hoping George W and team is going to see the benefit
of keeping him on in this capacity. This is the Bill Clinton who has brought
the Middle East to another brink of war, engaged the CIA in the affairs of the
region even more than in the past, and who is considerably responsible for so
much of the bloodshed now and in the future, not to mention for helping bring
Ariel Sharon himself to the pinnacle of power in Israel. This is Israel's American
front-man par excellance; and this guy just won't leave the scene. So we will
be having much more to say about all this in the weeks and months ahead. At
the moment, this full transcript of Clinton's "Israel speech" last night at the
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York to one of the substantial groups that makes
up the extended Israeli/Jewish lobby.
Transcript of President Bill Clinton Remarks at
the Israel Policy Forum Gala Sunday evening 7 Jan.
The Waldorf Astoria Hotel - New York, New York - 9:45pm EST, 7 January:
Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.) I want to thank all of you for
making me feel so welcome tonight, and also for making Hillary and Chelsea
feel welcome. I thank Michael Sonnenfeldt who, like me, is going out after
eight years -- (laughter) -- and will doubtless find some other useful
activity. But he has done a superb job, and I'm very grateful to him.
I thank my friend, Jack Bendheim, for his many kindnesses to me and to
Hillary. Yesterday, he had a birthday and now, like me, he's 54. Unlike me,
he has enough children to be elected President of the United States.
(Laughter.) And he's had a wonderful family and a wonderful life, and I'm
delighted that he's so active in the Israel Policy Forum. (Applause.) I'd
like to thank Judith Stern Peck for making me feel so welcome and for her
I thank Lesley Stahl; it's good to see you, and thank you for your kind
remarks. I thank the many members of Congress who are here; and also the
members of my Middle East peace team, Secretary Albright and Sandy Berger and
others have been introduced. But Secretary Dan Glickman is here and Kerry
Kennedy Cuomo is here, and I thank them for being here. (Applause.)
I want to thank the New York officials who are here -- Carl McCall, Mark
Green and any others who may be in the crowd for your many kindnesses to me
over the last eight years. New York has been great to me and Al Gore and
even greater to my wife on Election Day, so I thank you for that.
We just reenacted her swearing-in at Madison Square Garden. And I was
reminded of one of the many advantages of living in New York -- Jessye Norman
sang, Toni Morrison read and Billy Joel sang. Meanwhile, at least at half
time, the Giants were ahead. (Laughter and applause.) And so I said, I felt
sort of like Garrison Keillor did about Lake Wobegone. I was glad to be in
New York where all the writers, artists and sports teams were above average
-- (laughter) -- and all the votes were always counted. (Applause.)
Let me also say a word of warm welcome and profound respect to the Speaker of
the Knesset, Speaker Burg, for his wonderful and kind comments to me.
(Applause.) And to Cabinet Secretary Herzog, for his message from the
government of Israel. I want to say a little more about that in a moment.
I want to congratulate Dwayne Andreas, my good friend -- I wish he were here
tonight -- and thank him for his many kindnesses to me. Congratulations,
Louis Perlmutter; Susan Stern who has been such a great friend to Hillary,
and you gave a good talk tonight, I think you've got a real future in this
business. And your mother sat by me and she gave you a good grade, too.
And Alan Solomont, who has done as much for me as I suppose any American, and
he and Susan and their children have been great friends, and I thank you for
what you've done, sir. I thank all of you. (Applause.)
I'd also like to say how much I appreciated and was moved by the words of
Prime Minister Barak. He was dealt the hard hand by history. And he came to
office with absolute conviction that in the end, Israel could not be secure
unless a just and lasting peace could be reached with its neighbors,
beginning with the Palestinians. That if that turned out not to be possible,
then the next best thing was to be as strong as possible and as effective in
the use of that strength.
But his knowledge of war has fed a passion for peace. And his understanding
of the changing technology of war has made him more passionate, not because
he thinks the existence of Israel is less secure -- if anything, it's more
secure -- but because the sophisticated weapons available to terrorists today
mean even though they still lose, they can exact a higher price along the
I've been in enough political fights in my life to know that sometimes you
just have to do the right thing -- and it may work out and it may not. Most
people thought I had lost my mind when we passed the economic plan to get rid
of the deficit in 1993. And no one in the other party voted for it, and they
just talked about how it would bring the world to an end and America's
economy would be a disaster. I think the only Republican who thought it
would work was Alan Greenspan. (Laughter.) He was relieved of the burden of
having to say anything about it.
But no dilemma I have ever faced approximates in difficulty or comes close to
the choice that Prime Minister Barak had to make when he took office. He
realized that he couldn't know for sure what the final intentions of the
Palestinian leadership were without testing them. He further realized that
even if the intentions were there, there was a lot of competition among the
Palestinians and from outside forces, from people who are enemies of peace
because they don't give a rip how the ordinary Palestinians have to live and
they're pursuing a whole different agenda.
He knew nine things could go wrong and only one thing could go right. But he
promised himself that he would have to try. And as long as he knew Israel in
the end could defend itself and maintain its security, he would keep taking
risks. And that's what he's done, down to these days. There may be those
who disagree with him, but he has demonstrated as much bravery in the office
of Prime Minister as he ever did on the field of battle and no one should
ever question that. (Applause.)
Now, I imagine this has been a tough time for those of you who have been
supporting the IPF, out of conviction for a long time. All the dreams we had
in '93 that were revived when we had the peace with Jordan, revived again
when we had the Wye River accords -- that was, I think, the most interesting
peace talks I was ever involved in. My strategy was the same used to break
prisoners of war, I just didn't let anybody sleep for nine days and, finally,
out of exhaustion, we made a deal -- just so people could go home and go to
bed. (Laughter.) I've been looking for an opportunity to employ it again,
There have been a lot of positive things, and I think it's worth remembering
that there have been positive developments along the way. But this is
heartbreaking, what we've been through these last few months, for all of you
who have believed for eight years in the Oslo process; all of you who's
hearts soared on September 19, 1993, when Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin
signed that agreement.
For over three months we have lived through a tragic cycle of violence that
has cost hundreds of lives. It has shattered the confidence in the peace
process. It has raised questions in some people's minds about whether
Palestinians and Israelis could ever really live and work together, support
each other's peace and prosperity and security. It's been a heartbreaking
time for me, too. But we have done our best to work with the parties to
restore calm, to end the bloodshed and to get back to working on an agreement
to address the underlying causes that continuously erupt in conflicts.
Whatever happens in the next two weeks I've got to serve, I think it's
appropriate for me tonight, before a group of Americans and friends from the
Middle East who believe profoundly in the peace process and have put their
time and heart and money where their words are, to reflect on the lessons I
believe we've all learned over the last eight years, and how we can achieve
the long sought peace.
From my first day as President, we have worked to advance interests in the
Middle East that are long standing and historically bipartisan. I was glad
to hear of Senator Hagel's recitation of President-elect Bush's commitment to
peace in the Middle East. Those historic commitments include an ironclad
commitment to Israel's security and a just, comprehensive and lasting
agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis.
Along the way since '93, through the positive agreements that have been
reached between those two sides, through the peace between Israel and Jordan,
through last summer's withdrawal from Lebanon in which Israel fulfilled its
part of implementing U.N. Security Counsel resolution 425 -- along this way
we have learned some important lessons, not only because of the benchmarks of
progress, because of the occasional eruption of terrorism, bombing, death and
then these months of conflict.
I think these lessons have to guide any effort, now or in the future, to
reach a comprehensive peace. Here's what I think they are. Most of you
probably believed in them, up to the last three months. I still do. First,
the Arab-Israeli conflict is not just a morality play between good and evil.
It is a conflict with a complex history, whose resolution requires balancing
the needs of both sides, including respect for their national identities and
Second, there is no place for violence, and no military solution to this
conflict. The only path to a just and durable resolution is through
negotiation. Third, there will be no lasting peace or regional stability
without a strong and secure Israel, secure enough to make peace, strong
enough to deter the adversaries which will still be there, even if a peace is
made in complete good faith. And clearly that is why the United States must
maintain its commitment to preserving Israel's qualitative edge in military
Fourth, talks must be accompanied by acts -- acts which show trust and
partnership. For goodwill at the negotiating table cannot survive forever
ill intent on the ground. And it is important that each side understands how
the other reads actions.
For example, on the one hand, the tolerance of violence and incitement of
hatred in classrooms and the media in the Palestinian communities, or on the
other hand, humiliating treatment on the streets or at checkpoints by
Israelis are real obstacles to even getting people to talk about building a
Fifth, in the resolution of remaining differences, whether they come today or
after several years of heartbreak and bloodshed, the fundamental, painful,
but necessary choices will almost certainly remain the same whenever the
decision is made. The parties will face the same history, the same
geography, the same neighbors, the same passions, the same hatreds. This is
not a problem time will take care of.
And I would just like to go off the script here, because a lot of you have
more personal contacts than I do with people that will be dealing with this
for a long time to come, whatever happens in the next two weeks.
Among the really profound and difficult problems of the world that I have
dealt with, I find that they tend to fall into two categories. And if I
could use sort of a medical analogy, some are like old wounds with scabs on
them, and some are like abscessed teeth.
What do I mean by that? Old wounds with scabs eventually will heal if you
just leave them alone. And if you fool with them too much, you might open
the scab and make them worse. Abscessed teeth, however, will only get worse
if you leave them alone, and if you wait and wait and wait, they'll just
infect the whole rest of your mouth.
Northern Ireland, I believe, is becoming more like the scab. There are very
difficult things. If you followed my trip over there, you know I was trying
to help them resolve some of their outstanding problems, and we didn't get it
all done. But what I really wanted to do was to remind people of the
benefits of peace and to keep everybody in a good frame of mind and going on
so that all the politicians know that if they really let the wheel run off
over there, the people will throw them out on their ears.
Now, why is that? Because the Irish Republic is now the fastest-growing
economy in Europe, and Northern Ireland is the fastest-growing economy within
the United Kingdom. So the people are benefitting from peace, and they can
live with the fact that they can't quite figure out what to do about the
police force and the reconciliation of the various interests and passions of
the Protestants and Catholics. And the other three or four things. Because
the underlying reality has changed their lives.
So even though I wish I could solve it all, eventually it will heal, if it
just keeps going in the same direction. The Middle East is not like that.
Why? Because there are all these independent actors -- that is, independent
of the Palestinian Authority and not under the direct control of any
international legal body -- who don't want this peace to work. So that even
if we can get an agreement, and the Palestinian Authority works as hard as
they can, and the Israelis works as hard as they can, we're all going to have
to pitch in, send in an international force like we did in the Sinai, and
hang tough, because there are enemies of peace out there, number one.
Number two, because the enemies of peace know they can drive the Israelis to
close the borders if they can blow up enough bombs. They do it periodically
to make sure that the Palestinians in the street cannot enjoy the benefits of
peace that have come to the people in Northern Ireland. So as long as they
can keep the people miserable, and they can keep the fundamental decisions
from being made, they still have a hope, the enemies of peace, of derailing
the whole thing. That's why it's more like an abscessed tooth.
The fundamental realities are not going to be changed by delays. And that's
why I said what I did about Ehud Barak. I know that -- I don't think it's
appropriate for the United States to deal with anybody else's politics, but I
know why -- you can't expect poll ratings to be very good when the voters in
the moment wonder if they're going to get peace or security, and think they
can no longer have both and may have to choose one. I understand that.
But I'm telling you, the reason he has continued to push ahead on this is
that he has figured out, this is one of those political problems that is like
the abscessed tooth. The realities are not going to change. We can wait
until all these handsome young people at this table are the same age as the
honorees tonight, and me, we can wait until they've got kids their age, and
we've got a whole lot more bodies and a lot more funerals, a lot more crying
and a lot more hatred, and I'll swear the decisions will still be the same
ones that will have to be made that have to be made today.
That's the fundamental deal here. And this is a speech I have given, I might
add, to all my Israeli friends who question what we have done, and to the
Palestinians. And in private, God forgive me, my language is sometimes
somewhat more graphic than it has been tonight. But anybody that ever
kneeled at the grave of a person who died in the Middle East knows that what
we've been through these last three months is not what Yitzhak Rabin died for
and not what I went to Gaza two years ago to speak to the Palestinian
National Council for either, for that matter.
So those are the lessons I think are still operative, and I'm a little
concerned that we could draw the wrong lessons from this tragic, still
relatively brief, chapter in the history of the Middle East. The violence
does not demonstrate that the quest for peace has gone too far or too fast.
It demonstrates what happens when you've got a problem that is profoundly
difficult and you never quite get to the end, so there is no settlement, no
resolution, anxiety prevailed, and at least some people never get any
concrete benefits out of it.
And I believe that the last few months demonstrate the futility of force or
terrorism as an ultimate solution; that's what I believe. (Applause.) I think
the last few months show that unilateralism will exacerbate, not abate,
mutual hostility. I believe that the violence confirms the need to do more
to prepare both publics for the requirements of peace, not to condition
people for the so-called glory of further conflict.
Now, what are we going to do now? The first priority, obviously, has got to
be to drastically reduce the current cycle of violence. But beyond that, on
the Palestinian side, there must be an end to the culture of violence and the
culture of incitement that, since Oslo, has not gone unchecked. (Applause.)
Young children still are being educated to believe in confrontation with
Israel, and multiple militia-like groups carry and use weapons with impunity.
Voices of reason in that kind of environment will be drowned out too often by
voices of revenge.
Such conduct is inconsistent with the Palestinian leadership's commitment to
Oslo's nonviolent path to peace and its persistence sends the wrong message
to the Israeli people, and makes it much more difficult for them to support
their leaders in making the compromises necessary to get a lasting agreement.
For their part, the Israeli people also must understand that they're creating
a few problems, too; that the settlement enterprise and building bypass roads
in the heart of what they already know will one day be part of a Palestinian
state is inconsistent with the Oslo commitment that both sides negotiate a
And restoring confidence requires the Palestinians being able to lead a
normal existence, and not be subject to daily, often humiliating reminders
that they lack basic freedom and control over their lives.
These, too, make it harder for the Palestinians to believe the commitments
made to them will be kept. Can two peoples with this kind of present trouble
and troubling history still conclude a genuine and lasting peace? I mean, if
I gave you this as a soap opera, you would say they're going to divorce
court. But they can't, because they share such a small piece of land with
such a profound history of importance to more than a billion people around
the world. So I believe with all my heart not only that they can, but that
At Camp David, I saw Israeli and Palestinian negotiators who knew how many
children each other had, who knew how many grandchildren each other had, who
knew how they met their spouses, who knew what their family tragedies were,
who trusted each other in their word. It was almost shocking to see what
could happen and how people still felt on the ground when I saw how their
leaders felt about each other and the respect and the confidence they had in
each other when they were talking.
The alternative to getting this peace done is being played out before our
very eyes. But amidst the agony, I will say again, there are signs of hope.
And let me try to put this into what I think is a realistic context.
Camp David was a transformative event, because the two sides faced the core
issue of their dispute in a forum that was official for the first time. And
they had to debate the tradeoffs required to resolve the issues. Just as
Oslo forced Israelis and Palestinians to come to terms with each other's
existence, the discussions of the past six months have forced them to come to
terms with each other's needs and the contours of a peace that ultimately
they will have to reach.
That's why Prime Minister Barak, I think, has demonstrated real courage and
vision in moving toward peace in difficult circumstances while trying to find
a way to continue to protect Israel's security and vital interests.
So that's a fancy way of saying we know what we have to do and we've got a
mess on our hands. So where do we go from here? Given the impasse and the
tragic deterioration on the ground, a couple of weeks ago both sides asked me
to present my ideas. So I put forward parameters that I wanted to be guide
toward a comprehensive agreement; parameters based on eight years of
listening carefully to both sides and hearing them describe with increasing
clarity their respective grievances and needs.
Both Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat have now accepted these
parameters as the basis for further efforts. Both have expressed some
reservations. At their request, I am using my remaining time in office to
narrow the differences between the parties to the greatest degree possible.
(Applause.) For which I deserve no applause. Believe me, it beats packing up
all my old books. (Laughter.)
The parameters I put forward contemplate a settlement in response to each
side's essential needs, if not to their utmost desires. A settlement based
on sovereign homelands, security, peace and dignity for both Israelis and
Palestinians. These parameters don't begin to answer every question, they
just narrow the questions that have to be answered.
Here they are. First, I think there can be no genuine resolution to the
conflict without a sovereign, viable, Palestinian state that accommodates
Israeli's security requirements and the demographic realities. That suggests
Palestinian sovereignty over Gaza, the vast majority of the West Bank, the
incorporation into Israel of settlement blocks, with the goal of maximizing
the number of settlers in Israel while minimizing the land annex for
Palestine to be viable must be a geographically contiguous state.
Now, the land annexed into Israel into settlement blocks should include as
few Palestinians as possible, consistent with the logic of two separate
homelands. And to make the agreement durable, I think there will have to be
some territorial swaps and other arrangements.
Second, a solution will have to be found for the Palestinian refugees who
have suffered a great deal -- particularly some of them. A solution that
allows them to return to a Palestinian state that will provide all
Palestinians with a place they can safely and proudly call home. All
Palestinian refugees who wish to live in this homeland should have the right
to do so. All others who want to find new homes, whether in their current
locations or in third countries, should be able to do so, consistent with
those countries' sovereign decisions. And that includes Israel.
All refugees should receive compensation from the international community for
their losses, and assistance in building new lives.
Now, you all know what the rub is. That was a lot of artful language for
saying that you cannot expect Israel to acknowledge an unlimited right of
return to present day Israel, and at the same time, to give up Gaza and the
West Bank and have the settlement blocks as compact as possible, because of
where a lot of these refugees came from. We cannot expect Israel to make a
decision that would threaten the very foundations of the state of Israel, and
would undermine the whole logic of peace. And it shouldn't be done.
But I have made it very clear that the refugees will be a high priority, and
that the United States will take a lead in raising the money necessary to
relocate them in the most appropriate manner. (Applause.) If the government
of Israel or a subsequent government of Israel ever -- will be in charge of
their immigration policy, just as we and the Canadians and the Europeans and
others who would offer Palestinians a home would be, they would be obviously
free to do that, and I think they've indicated that they would do that, to
some extent. But there cannot be an unlimited language in an agreement that
would undermine the very foundations of the Israeli state or the whole reason
for creating the Palestinian state. (Applause.) So that's what we're working
Third, there will be no peace, and no peace agreement, unless the Israeli
people have lasting security guarantees. (Applause.) These need not and
should not come at the expense of Palestinian sovereignty, or interfere with
Palestinian territorial integrity. So my parameters rely on an international
presence in Palestine to provide border security along the Jordan Valley and
to monitor implementation of the final agreement. They rely on a
non-militarized Palestine, a phased Israeli withdrawal, to address Israeli
security needs in the Jordan Valley, and other essential arrangements to
ensure Israel's ability to defend itself.
Fourth, I come to the issue of Jerusalem, perhaps the most emotional and
sensitive of all. It is a historic, cultural and political center for both
Israelis and Palestinians, a unique city sacred to all three monotheistic
religions. And I believe the parameters I have established flow from four
fair and logical propositions.
First, Jerusalem should be an open and undivided city, with assured freedom
of access and worship for all. It should encompass the internationally
recognized capitals of two states, Israel and Palestine. Second, what is
Arab should be Palestinian, for why would Israel want to govern in perpetuity
the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians? Third, what is Jewish
should be Israeli. That would give rise to a Jewish Jerusalem, larger and
more vibrant than any in history.
Fourth, what is holy to both requires a special care to meet the needs of
all. I was glad to hear what the Speaker said about that. No peace agreement
will last if not premised on mutual respect for the religious beliefs and
holy shrines of Jews, Muslims and Christians.
I have offered formulations on the Haram Ash-Shareef, and the area holy to
the Jewish people, an area which for 2,000 years, as I said at Camp David,
has been the focus of Jewish yearning, that I believed fairly addressed the
concerns of both sides.
Fifth and, finally, any agreement will have to mark the decision to end the
conflict, for neither side can afford to make these painful compromises, only
to be subjected to further demands. They are both entitled to know that if
they take the last drop of blood out of each other's turnip, that's it. It
really will have to be the end of the struggle that has pitted Palestinians
and Israelis against one another for too long. And the end of the conflict
must manifest itself with concrete acts that demonstrate a new attitude and a
new approach by Palestinians and Israelis toward each other, and by other
states in the region toward Israel, and by the entire region toward
Palestine, to help it get off to a good start.
The parties' experience with interim accords has not always been happy -- too
many deadlines missed, too many commitments unfulfilled on both sides. So
for this to signify a real end of the conflict, there must be effective
mechanisms to provide guarantees of implementation. That's a lot of stuff,
isn't it? It's what I think is the outline of a fair agreement. (Applause.)
Let me say this, I am well aware that it will entail real pain and sacrifices
for both sides. I am well aware that I don't even have to run for reelection
in the United States on the basis of these ideas. I have worked for eight
years without laying such ideas down. I did it only when both sides asked me
to, and when it was obvious that we had come to the end of the road, and
somebody had to do something to break out of the impasse.
Now, I still think the benefits of the agreement, based on these parameters,
far outweigh the burdens. For the people of Israel, they are an end to
conflict, secure and defensible borders, the incorporation of most of the
settlers into Israel, and the Jewish capital of Jerusalaem, recognized by
all, not just the United States, by everybody in the world. It's a big deal,
and it needs to be done. (Applause.)
For the Palestinian people, it means the freedom to determine their own
future on their own land, a new life for the refugees, an independent and
sovereign state with al Quds as its capital, recognized by all. (Applause.)
And for America, it means that we could have new flags flying over new
embassies in both these capitals. (Applause.)
Now that the sides have accepted the parameters with reservations, what's
going to happen? Well, each side will try to do a little better than I did.
(Laughter.) You know, that's just natural. But a peace viewed as imposed by
one party upon the other, that puts one side up and the other down, rather
than both ahead, contains the seeds of its own destruction.
Let me say those who believe that my ideas can be altered to one party's
exclusive benefit are mistaken. I think to press for more will produce less.
There can be no peace without compromise. Now, I don't ask Israelis or
Palestinians to agree with everything I said. If they can come up with a
completely different agreement, it would suit me just fine. But I doubt it.
I have said what I have out of a profound lifetime commitment to and love for
the state of Israel, out of a conviction that the Palestinian people have
been ignored or used as political footballs by others for long enough, and
they ought to have a chance to make their own life with dignity. (Applause.)
And out of a belief that in the homeland of the world's three great religions
that believe we are all the creatures of one God, we ought to be able to
prove that one person's win is not, by definition, another's loss; that one
person's dignity is not, by definition, another's humiliation; that one
person's work of God is not, by definition, another's heresy. There has to
be a way for us to find a truth we can share. (Applause.)
There has to be a way for us to reach those young Palestinian kids who,
unlike the young people in this audience, don't imagine a future in which
they would ever put on clothes like this and sit at a dinner like this.
There has to be a way for us to say to them, struggle and pain and
destruction and self-destruction are way overrated, and not the only option.
There has to be a way for us to reach those people in Israel who have paid
such a high price and believe, frankly, that people who embrace the ideas I
just outlined are nuts, because Israel is a little country and this agreement
would make it smaller; to understand that the world in which we live and the
technology of modern weaponry no longer make defense primarily a matter of
geography and of politics and the human feeling and the interdependence and
the cooperation and the shared values and the shared interests are more
important and worth the considered risk, especially if the United States
remains committed to the military capacity of the state of Israel.
So I say to the Palestinians: there will always be those who are sitting
outside in the peanut gallery of the Middle East, urging you to hold out for
more, or to plant one more bomb. But all the people who do that, they're not
the refugees languishing in those camps -- you are. They're not the ones
with children growing up in poverty whose income is lower today than it was
the day we had the signing on the White House Lawn in 1993 -- you are.
All the people that are saying to the Palestinian people: Stay on the path of
no, are people that have a vested interest in the failure of the peace
process that has nothing to do with how those kids in Gaza and the West Bank
are going to grow up and live and raise their own children. (Applause.)
To the citizens of Israel who have returned to an ancient homeland after
2,000 years, whose hopes and dreams almost vanished in the Holocaust, who
have hardly had one day of peace and quiet since the state of Israel was
created, I understand, I believe, something of the disillusionment, the
anger, the frustration that so many feel when, just at the moment peace
seemed within reach, all this violence broke out and raised the question of
whether it is ever possible.
The fact is that the people of Israel dreamed of a homeland. The dream came
through; but when they came home, the land was not all vacant. Your land is
also their land, it is the homeland of two people. And, therefore, there is
no choice but to create two states and make the best of it.
If it happens today, it will be better than if it happens tomorrow, because
fewer people will die. And after it happens, the motives of those who
continue the violence will be clearer to all than they are today.
Today, Israel is closer than ever to ending a 100-year-long era of struggle.
It could be Israel's finest hour. And I hope and pray that the people of
Israel will not give up the hope of peace.
Now, I've got 13 days and I'll do what I can. We're working with Egypt and
the parties to try to end the violence. I'm sending Dennis Ross to the
region this week. I met with both sides this week. I hope we can really do
something. And I appreciate more than I can say the kind, personal things
that you said about me.
But here's what I want you to think about. New York has its own high-tech
corridor called "Silicon Alley." The number one foreign recipient of venture
capital from Silicon Alley is Israel. Palestinians who have come to the
United States, to Chile, to Canada, to Europe, have done fabulously well --
in business, in the sciences, in academia.
If we could ever let a lot of this stuff go and realize that a lot of -- that
the enemies of peace in the Middle East are overlooking not only what the
Jewish people have done beyond Israel, but what has happened to the state of
Israel since its birth, and how fabulously well the people of Palestinian
descent have done everywhere else in the world except in their homeland,
where they are in the grip of forces that have not permitted them to
reconcile with one another and with the people of Israel -- listen, if you
guys ever got together, 10 years from now we would all wonder what the heck
happened for 30 years before.
And the center of energy and creativity and economic power and political
influence in the entire region would be with the Israelis and the
Palestinians because of their gifts. It could happen. But somebody has got
to take the long leap, and they have to be somebodies on both sides.
All I can tell you is, whether you do it now or whether you do it later,
whether I'm the President or just somebody in the peanut gallery, I'll be
there, cheering and praying and working along the way. (Applause.) And I
think America will be there. I think America will always be there for
Israel's security. But Israel's lasting security rests in a just and lasting
peace. I pray that the day will come sooner, rather than later, where all
the people of the region will see that they can share the wisdom of God in
their common humanity and give up their conflict.
Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)