Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt
The President. Good morning.
Q. Mr. President, what do you think of the Israeli plan now to build new highways and bridges into the occupied territories, the West Bank and Golan Heights, consolidating their control?
The President. The President just walked in the door, and we're going to start talking, and I think that I'd rather wait to answer those questions until the press conference. We're going to have a press conference after lunch, and we'll—I'll be glad to answer your questions.
Q. [Inaudible]—the welfare reform bill that's coming out of conference, is it something you can sign, Mr. President?
The President. I don't know. I don't know what's going to happen in the conference yet. They're working on the conference now, and I'm going to wait and see what happens, what comes out.
Q. I think you're going to sign it because you have used all the language of the opponents: failed system, broken system.
The President. We have actually done something about it. Keep in mind that 75 percent of the people on welfare today are under welfare-to-work experiments. There are 1.3 million fewer people on welfare today than there were the day I took office. Child support is up 40 percent. There are a lot of things in the bill I'd like to sign. I like the child care money. I like the increased child support enforcement.
I like the fact that we get out of the waiver business on a State-by-State basis. But I don't want to see harm come to the children of this country. And so we'll just wait and see.
Q. Mr. President, the Democrats really want to know, they want some guidance from you about whether you'd accept this from this conference.
The President. Well, we're talking to them all. But I don't want to make comments about a bill I haven't seen yet. Let's see what comes out of the conference. We're working with them, and obviously I hope I can sign a bill. We're working hard, but it depends on what that bill does.
The Vice President. Did you get Helen's [Helen Thomas, United Press International] comments down? Did you get those down? [Laughter] You'll have to go with her analysis. She's going from questions to making comments now that she's got a microphone.
Ms. Thomas. It's my day in the sun. Where's my crew? [Laughter] Anonymity is better.
The President. Oh, I don't know. I think you lost your anonymity a long time ago, Helen.
Ms. Thomas. Hell. [Laughter]
[At this point, one group of reporters left the room, and another group entered.]
Middle East Peace Process
Q. Mr. President Clinton, when will see the photo number six of a Middle East treaty signing hang on the wall of the Oval Office, probably the Syrian track?
The President. The next one out there? I hope it won't be too long. We are—the President just arrived, and we're looking forward to a conversation. And of course, we're going to have a press conference afterward, and we'll try to answer all your questions.
Q. What is the agenda of the meeting today, Mr. President?
The President. Excuse me?
Q. What is the agenda of the meeting?
The President. We're going to discuss a whole range of things, our bilateral relationship, issues in the Middle East. I've been very impressed with the leadership that President Mubarak has continued to show in the last several months. And I'm looking forward to listening, asking him a lot of questions and listening, and then having a chance to share some ideas. And then we'll have the press conference and do our best to answer your questions.
Q. I have only one question, please, President Clinton. Will the United States try to convince Prime Minister Netanyahu to respect agreements that the Israel Government—not the Labor Party, but the Israel Government—have signed and redeploy the Israel troops from Hebron. The second point, also, to negotiate about Jerusalem and also to try to stop sealing off every time, and every now and then, the Gaza Strip.
The President. Well, let me say, first of all, he reaffirmed to me when he was here, and he has met with President Mubarak as well, that he would honor the Oslo accords in every way. So I think we have to give him a chance to do that and work on that assumption. I believe that the—I think that the government is bound to honor commitments that it has made, and I believe that it will and I certainly believe it should. And so we'll just have to—we'll see. But we're going to discuss that today, and again, we'll be able to answer more questions at the press conference, after we have our meeting.
NOTE: The exchange began at 11:15 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, the President referred to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.
William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/223260