Remarks on the Israeli-Palestinian Agreement and an Exchange With Reporters in Cleveland, Ohio
The President. I just got off the telephone with Prime Minister Rabin. I called him to congratulate him on the agreement that he has reached today.
When we first met, he told me that he was prepared to take risks for peace, and I told him that it was the responsibility of the United States to do everything we could to minimize those risks. And I reaffirmed that today. They have reached a general agreement, but the process of implementing it will be quite complicated. And we expect to be closely involved in the process all along the way. I am extremely happy that it has finally happened. I am very, very hopeful for the future. And this is a very brave and courageous thing that has been done.
Q. Will there be a signing ceremony Monday——
Q. Will the U.S.—with the PLO as part of this deal, Mr. President?
The President. Well, let me answer you in this way. Later today we will see what the statements of the parties are, and then I will have another formal statement later in the day. If the PLO's statement today meets the criteria we have repeatedly set down, renouncing terrorism, acknowledging Israel's right to exist, those things, then we will resume our dialog with them and then we'll go forward from there. And we'll have an announcement probably today, perhaps tomorrow, about what happens next with regard to this agreement.
Q. Will that constitute formal recognition of the PLO?
The President. I don't want to say any more today. Let's wait until their statement comes out. For the moment, for the next few hours let's savor the fact that they have made this agreement. As Prime Minister Rabin said, it's the first time in 100 years that the Israelis and the Palestinians have agreed on something fundamental and important.
Q. Why do you think the time was right now for such an agreement, sir?
The President. I think that there are many reasons. I think, frankly, the major leaders in Middle East, beginning with Prime Minister Rabin and Mr. Arafat, were at a point in their lives, their careers, their experiences, where for all kinds of reasons they thought the time had come. And I also want to compliment Foreign Minister Peres; I think he deserves a lot of credit.
I think the circumstances were propitious. I think most people thought they had exhausted their reasonable alternatives, and they didn't want to go on in this manner anymore. And I hope we can keep this process going.
But I want to remind you that there are a lot of things that still have to be done to make this really happen, and the United States is committed to doing our share.
Q. Was the U.S. cut out of this deal, Mr. President?
The President. No. You know the facts, but let me briefly reiterate them. We sponsored, along with the Russians, the resumption of the talks. We put on the table a set of basic principles. About 70 percent of them were in the ultimate agreement that came out of the secret channel in Oslo. Our job was to keep these talks going in Washington, and the Secretary of State did a masterful job on two different occasions, once with the deportations and once with the conflict in the Bekaa Valley, when they were in danger of being derailed. And he worked hard. He went to the Middle East. We've worked hard to do that.
We were made aware in the most general terms of what was happening in Norway, but we didn't know a lot of the details, nor should we have known. I think this matter was so volatile and so difficult that it may be that the only way the final agreements could have been reached on the principles was in a secret and totally unknown channel. I think it gave both sides the freedom to reach out to one another.
So I think we did everything we could have, and a lot of our work is still to be done now that the agreement has been made and is public and has to be implemented. And we're prepared to do our part. But I'm pleased about this, and I hope that it means more good things in the future.
Q. Will the U.S. find the money, sir, to support this kind of agreement? Because after all, there's going to be a lot of aid needed.
The President. [Inaudible]—a lot of work, a lot of economic reconstruction that has to be done. I believe we'll do our part. I believe the Congress will be willing, and I think the American people will be willing. I think that our people will appreciate the absolutely historic significance of this. This is a huge development in the——
Q. Did you offer to sponsor a signing ceremony or have some kind of official recognition in Washington?
The President. We've been discussing that for the last several days, but I think that I should wait until there is a formal statement by the Israelis and the PLO later today, and then we'll have more to say about that.
Q. But you will——
The President. Later today.
NOTE: The President spoke at 10:50 a.m. upon arrival at the Park Corp. I-X Jet Center. In his remarks, he referred to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of Israel and Yasser Arafat, Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman.
William J. Clinton, Remarks on the Israeli-Palestinian Agreement and an Exchange With Reporters in Cleveland, Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/217521