George W. Bush photo

Remarks at the Red Sea Summit in Aqaba, Jordan

June 04, 2003

King Abdullah II of Jordan. President Bush, Prime Minister Sharon, Prime Minister Abbas, distinguished guests: We gather today in Aqaba, this small city that symbolizes the immeasurable potential of bringing different peoples together. Not far from here, Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1994. Nine years later, what brings us here is the same dream, the dream of peace, prosperity, coexistence, and reconciliation. But dreams alone cannot fulfill hopes. It is thanks to the efforts of President Bush and the commitments of Prime Minister Sharon and Prime Minister Abbas that we meet here today to transform these dreams into real achievements on the ground.

Mr. President, Prime Ministers, let us have ambitions, ambitions to move beyond the violence and occupation to the day when two states, Palestine and Israel, can live together side by side in peace and security.

And in our hands today we hold the mechanism that can translate these ambitions into realities on the ground. It is a plan, the roadmap, that addresses the needs of both Palestinians and Israelis. To the Israelis, this plan offers collective security guarantees by all Arabs, a peace treaty, and normal relations with Arab states, and an end to the conflict. To the Palestinians, it offers an end to the occupation, a viable state, and the promise to live as a free and prosperous people.

To be sure, the road to realizing this vision will not be straightforward or without obstacles. I'm aware that many in our region and around the world view our gathering today through a lens marred with skepticism and suspicion. The failures and frustrations of the past have left many disbelievers in their wake.

Today we have an opportunity and obligation to reinstate faith in the process and to reinvigorate hopes for a better tomorrow. We simply cannot afford the alternative. The road to confrontation has shown its consequences: loss of innocent lives, destruction, and fear. Most costly, however, was the loss of hope. The most precious gift that you can present to your peoples over the coming weeks is renewed hope born out of tangible progress on the ground. And it's not only your people who will be watching and waiting. The eyes of the entire world will be upon you.

The nature of our new borderless world means that we all have a stake in what happens here today. Jordanians, Americans, Europeans, and many around the world stand ready and willing to lend all their support to ensure your success. But at the end of the day, it is you, the Palestinians and the Israelis, who have to come together to resolve the many outstanding issues that divide you.

Many will view the compromises that will be made during your negotiations as painful concessions. But why not view them as peace offerings, ones that will provide in return the priceless gifts of hope, security, and freedom for our children and our children's children. It is only by putting yourselves in each other's shoes that we can hope to achieve real progress.

Thus, we reaffirm today our strong position against violence in any form and from whatever source. Blowing up buses will not induce the Israelis to move forward, and neither will the killing of Palestinians or the demolition of their homes and their future. All this needs to stop. And we pledge that Jordan will do its utmost to help achieve it.

Mr. President, you have stayed the course. Your presence here today to witness the two leaders meeting together, agreeing on common grounds to solve this conflict, provides a great impetus to move forward and a clear answer to all the skeptics. I thank you, sir, for your leadership and your courage.

Prime Minister Sharon, Prime Minister Abbas, I urge you today to end the designs of those who seek destruction, annihilation, and occupation. And I urge you to have the will and the courage to begin to realize our dreams of peace, prosperity, and coexistence. And remember that in the pursuit of these noble goals, Jordan will always remain a true friend.

Thank you very much. And it is with great pleasure, if I may introduce Prime Minister Abbas to say a few words.

Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. I would like to thank King Abdullah for hosting our meeting here today. I would like also to thank President Mubarak and King Abdullah, King Hamad, and Crown Prince Abdullah, who met in Egypt yesterday. I thank them for their statements supporting our efforts. I also would like to thank the Israeli Prime Minister Sharon for joining us here in Jordan. And many thanks especially to President Bush, who took the longest journey for peace of all of us.

As we all realize, this is an important moment. A new opportunity for peace exists, an opportunity based upon President Bush's vision and the Quartet's roadmap, which we have accepted without any reservations.

Our goal is two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The process is the one of direct negotiations to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to resolve all the permanent status issues and end the occupation that began in 1967, under which Palestinians have suffered so much.

At the same time, we do not ignore the suffering of the Jews throughout history. It is time to bring all this suffering to an end.

Just as Israel must meet its responsibilities, we, the Palestinians, will fulfill our obligations for this endeavor to succeed. We are ready to do our part.

Let me be very clear: There will be no military solution to this conflict, so we repeat our denunciation and renunciation of terrorism against the Israelis, wherever they might be. Such methods are inconsistent with our religious and moral traditions and are dangerous obstacles to the achievement of an independent sovereign state we seek. These methods also conflict with the kinds of state we wish to build, based on human rights and the rule of law.

We will exert all of our efforts, using all our resources, to end the militarization of the intifada, and we will succeed. The armed intifada must end, and we must use and resort to peaceful means in our quest to end the occupation and the suffering of Palestinians and Israelis. And to establish the Palestinian state, we emphasize our determination to implement our pledges which we have made for our people and the international community. And that is a rule of law, single political authority, weapons only in the hands of those who are in charge of upholding the law and order, and political diversity within the framework of democracy.

Our goal is clear, and we will implement it firmly and without compromise: a complete end to violence and terrorism. And we will be full partners in the international war against occupation and terrorism. And we will call upon our partners in this war to prevent financial and military assistance to those who oppose this position. We do this as a part of our commitment to the interests of the Palestinian people and as members of the large family of humanity.

We will also act vigorously against incitement and violence and hatred, whatever their form or forum may be. We will take measures to ensure that there is no incite-ment—[inaudible]—from Palestinian institutions. We must also reactivate and invigorate the U.S.-Palestinian-Israeli Anti-Incitement Committee. We will continue our work to establish the rule of law and to consolidate government authority in accountable Palestinian institutions. We seek to build the kind of a democratic state that will be a qualitative addition to the international community.

All the PA security forces will be part of these efforts and will work together toward the achievement of these goals. Our national future is at stake, and no one will be allowed to jeopardize it.

We are committed to these steps because they are in our national interest. In order to succeed, there must be a clear improvement in the lives of Palestinians. Palestinians must live in dignity. Palestinians must be able to move, go to their jobs and schools, visit their families, and conduct a normal life. Palestinians must not be afraid for their lives, property, or livelihood.

We welcome and stress the need for the assistance of the international community and, in particular, the Arab states to help us. And we also welcome and stress the need for a U.S.-led monitoring mechanism.

Together, we can achieve the goal of an independent Palestinian state, sovereign, viable, in the framework of good neighbors with all states in the region, including Israel.

Thank you very much.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel. Thank you. I would like to thank His Majesty King Abdullah for arranging this meeting and express Israel's appreciation to President Bush for coming here to be with Prime Minister Abbas and me. Thank you.

As the Prime Minister of Israel, the land which is the cradle of the Jewish people, my paramount responsibility is the security of the people of Israel and of the state of Israel. There can be no compromise with terror. And Israel, together with all free nations, will continue fighting terrorism until its final defeat.

Ultimately, permanent security requires peace, and permanent peace can only be obtained through security. And there is now hope of a new opportunity for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israel, like others, has lent its strong support for President Bush's vision expressed on June 24, 2002, of two states, Israel and a Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security. The Government and people of Israel welcome the opportunity to renew direct negotiations according to the steps of the roadmap, as adopted by the Israeli Government, to achieve this vision.

It is in Israel's interest not to govern the Palestinians but for the Palestinians to govern themselves in their own state. A democratic Palestinian state fully at peace with Israel will promote the long-term security and well-being of Israel as the Jewish state.

There can be no peace, however, without the abandonment and elimination of terrorism, violence, and incitement. We will work alongside the Palestinians and other states to fight terrorism, violence, and incitement of all kinds. As all parties perform their obligations, we will seek to restore normal Palestinian life, improve the humanitarian situation, rebuild trust, and promote progress toward the President's vision. We will act in a manner that respects the dignity as well as the human rights of all people.

We can also reassure our Palestinian partners that we understand the importance of territorial contiguity in the West Bank for a viable Palestinian state. Israeli policy in the territories that are subject to direct negotiations with the Palestinians will reflect this fact. We accept the principle that no unilateral actions by any party can prejudge the outcome of our negotiations.

In regard to the unauthorized outposts, I want to reiterate that Israel is a society governed by the rule of law. Thus, we will immediately begin to remove unauthorized outposts.

Israel seeks peace with all its Arab neighbors. Israel is prepared to negotiate in good faith wherever there are partners. As normal relations are established, I am confident that they will find in Israel a neighbor and a people committed to comprehensive peace and prosperity for all the peoples of the region.

Thank you all.

President Bush. King Abdullah, thank you for hosting this event. Her Majesty, thank you for your hospitality. It is fitting that we gather today in Jordan. King Abdullah is a leader on behalf of peace and is carrying forward the tradition of his father, King Hussein.

I'm pleased to be here with Prime Minister Sharon. The friendship between our countries began at the time of Israel's creation. Today, America is strongly committed, and I am strongly committed, to Israel's security as a vibrant Jewish state.

I'm also pleased to be with Prime Minister Abbas. He represents the cause of freedom and statehood for the Palestinian people. I strongly support that cause as well.

Each of us is here because we understand that all people have the right to live in peace. We believe that with hard work and good faith and courage, it is possible to bring peace to the Middle East. And today we mark important progress toward that goal.

Great and hopeful change is coming to the Middle East. In Iraq, a dictator who funded terror and sowed conflict has been removed, and a more just and democratic society is emerging. Prime Minister Abbas now leads the Palestinian Cabinet. By his strong leadership, by building the institutions of Palestinian democracy, and by rejecting terror, he is serving the deepest hopes of his people.

All here today now share a goal: The Holy Land must be shared between the state of Palestine and the state of Israel, living at peace with each other and with every nation of the Middle East.

All sides will benefit from this achievement, and all sides have responsibilities to meet. As the roadmap accepted by the party makes clear, both must make tangible, immediate steps toward this two-state vision.

I welcome Prime Minister Sharon's pledge to improve the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian areas and to begin removing unauthorized outposts immediately. I appreciate his gestures of reconciliation on behalf of prisoners and their families and his frank statements about the need for territorial contiguity. As I said yesterday, the issue of settlements must be addressed for peace to be achieved. In addition, Prime Minister Sharon has stated that no unilateral actions by either side can or should prejudge the outcome of future negotiations. The Prime Minister also recognizes that it is in Israel's own interest for Palestinians to govern themselves in their own state. These are meaningful signs of respect for the rights of the Palestinians and their hopes for a viable, democratic, peaceful Palestinian state.

Prime Minister Abbas recognizes that terrorist crimes are a dangerous obstacle to the independent state his people seek. He agrees that the process for achieving that state is through peaceful negotiations. He has pledged to consolidate Palestinian institutions, including the security forces, and to make them more accountable and more democratic. He has promised his full efforts and resources to end the armed intifada. He has promised to work without compromise for a complete end of violence and terror. In all these efforts, the Prime Minister is demonstrating his leadership and commitment to building a better future for the Palestinian people.

Both Prime Ministers here agree that progress toward peace also requires an end to violence and the elimination of all forms of hatred and prejudice and official incitement in schoolbooks, in broadcasts, and in the words used by political leaders. Both leaders understand that a future of peace cannot be founded on hatred and falsehood and bitterness.

Yet, these two leaders cannot bring about peace if they must act alone. True peace requires the support of other nations in the region. Yesterday, in Sharm el-Sheikh, we made a strong beginning. Arab leaders stated that they share our goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and in security. And they have promised to cut off assistance and the flow of money and weapons to terrorist groups and to help Prime Minister Abbas rid Palestinian areas of terrorism.

All sides have made important commitments, and the United States will strive to see these commitments fulfilled. My Government will provide training and support for a new, restructured Palestinian security service. And we'll place a mission on the ground, led by Ambassador John Wolf. This mission will be charged with helping the parties to move towards peace, monitoring their progress, and stating clearly who was fulfilling their responsibilities. And we expect both parties to keep their promises.

I've also asked Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to make this cause a matter of the highest priority. Secretary Powell and Dr. Rice, as my personal representative, will work closely with the parties, helping them move toward true peace as quickly as possible.

The journey we're taking is difficult, but there is no other choice. No leader of conscience can accept more months and years of humiliation, killing, and mourning. And these leaders of conscience have made their declarations today in the cause of peace.

The United States is committed to that cause. If all sides fulfill their obligation, I know that peace can finally come.

Thank you very much, and may God bless our work.

NOTE: King Abdullah spoke at 3:30 p.m. at Beit al Bahar. Prime Minister Abbas spoke in Arabic, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. In his remarks, the President referred to Queen Rania of Jordan; former President Saddam Hussein of Iraq; and Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation John S. Wolf. Prime Minister Abbas referred to President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt; King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain; and Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. A portion of these remarks could not be verified because the tape was incomplete.

George W. Bush, Remarks at the Red Sea Summit in Aqaba, Jordan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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