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Address to the People of the Middle East

March 08, 1996

Greetings to all the viewers of "Dialogue With the West." I'm pleased to have this opportunity to speak with you today. This has been a difficult week for all of us who have cherished the growing prospects of peace in the Middle East and Israel. Dozens of people lost their lives to an inhuman campaign of terror.

Think about the victims for a moment. Each was a human being, a son or a daughter, a husband or a wife, a mother or a father. Each wanted only to live and to love, to work and to dream in a land of peace.

Those responsible for these terrible acts have but one aim: to stop the peace process that so many people throughout Israel and the Arab world so strongly desire. The enemies of peace know that a new day is dawning in the Middle East, a day in which all its peoples can enjoy the simple blessings of a normal life. With each new step along the way, these enemies grow more and more desperate, and so they sow the seeds of division and conflict, of hatred and destruction.

But make no mistake: The future they darken is their own. For instead of a life of security and prosperity, all they have to offer is violence, poverty, and despair. We must not allow them to prevail. If we do everything we can to strengthen the peace they fear, they will not prevail.

In the midst of this week's horror, there was one especially powerful moment of hope. In Gaza City, 10,000 Palestinians came together to make a simple, urgent plea: Say no to terrorism; say yes to peace. They know that their own dreams and aspirations are at risk, to provide for their loved ones, to raise a family in security, to see their own children enjoy lives free from violence and full of possibilities. And they understand a truth that we see all around the world.

Today the fundamental differences are no longer between Arab and Jew or Protestant and Catholic or Muslim, Serb, and Croat. The dividing line today is between those who embrace peace and those who would destroy it, between those who look to the future and those who are locked in the past, between those who open their arms and those who still clench their fists. Each of us must decide which side of the line we are on; the right side, the only side, is the side of peace.

Now more than ever, the choice we make matters. Choose peace.

NOTE: This address was recorded at 2:15 p.m. on March 7 in the Roosevelt Room at the White House for later broadcast and was embargoed for release until 1 p.m. on March 8.

William J. Clinton, Address to the People of the Middle East Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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