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Remarks at the Signing Ceremony for the Israel-Jordan Washington Declaration

July 25, 1994

Your Majesties, Prime Minister and Mrs. Rabin, distinguished guests: Today we gather to bear witness to history. As this century draws to a close, a new era of peace opens before us in ancient lands as brave men choose reconciliation over conflict. Today our faith is renewed.

As we write a new chapter in the march of hope over despair on these grounds and at this historic table, we remember the courage of Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin and the leadership of President Carter at Camp David 15 years ago, the efforts of President Bush to bring Israel and her neighbors together in Madrid 2 years ago, and that shining September day last year when Prime Minister Rabin and Chairman Arafat declared that their two peoples would fight no more.

Today, in that same spirit, King Hussein and Prime Minister Rabin will sign the Washington Declaration. After generations of hostility, blood, and tears, the leaders of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the State of Israel will solemnly declare, with the world as their witness, that they have ended the state of belligerency between them. From this day forward, they pledge to settle their differences by peaceful means. Both countries will refrain from actions that may adversely affect the security of the other and will thwart all those who would use terrorism to threaten either side.

The Washington Declaration is the product of much hard work. Less then a year ago, Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan and Foreign Minister Peres of Israel met here publicly for the first time. Together, with the wise counsel and persistent energy of the Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, Israel and Jordan have pursued peace. And we are all in their debt.

It takes but a minute or two to cross the River Jordan, but for as long as most of us can remember, the distance has seemed immense. The awful power of ancient arguments and the raw wounds of recent wars have left generations of Israelis, Jordanians, and Palestinians unable to imagine, much less build, a life of peace and security. Today King Hussein and Prime Minister Rabin give their people a new currency of hope and the chance to prosper in a region of peace.

Under the Washington Declaration, Jordan and Israel have agreed to continue vigorous negotiations to produce a treaty of peace based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. King Hussein and Prime Minister Rabin will meet as often as necessary to shepherd and personally direct those negotiations. Their objective is a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace between Israel and all its neighbors, a peace in which each acknowledges and respects the territorial integrity and political independence of all others and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries.

In the meantime, Jordan and Israel have decided to take immediate steps to normalize relations and resolve disputes in areas of common concern. They have agreed to survey the international border based on the work of their boundary subcommission. They have resolved that negotiations on water resources should aim to establish the rightful allocation between the two sides of the waters of the Jordan and Yarmuk Rivers. They have determined that their police forces will cooperate in combating crime, with a special emphasis on drug smuggling. They have set up as their joint purpose the abolition of all economic boycotts and the establishment of a bilateral economic cooperation.

And as of today, Jordan and Israel have agreed to take the first practical steps to draw their people together and to let the peoples of the world share in the wonders of their lands. They will establish direct telephone links, connect their two nations' electricity grids, open two border crossings between their nations, including one at Aqaba and Eilat and another in the north, accelerate the negotiations aimed at opening an international air corridor between the two countries, and give free access to thirdcountry tourists traveling between their two nations. These are the building blocks of a modern peace and ancient holy lands.

Your Majesty, after our first meeting, you wrote me a heartfelt letter in which you referred to your revered grandfather King Abdullah. You told me that his untimely assassination at the entrance to Jerusalem's Al Aqsa Mosque had come at a time when he was intent on making peace with Israel. Had he completed his mission, you said to me, your region would have been spared four decades of war. Today, 43 years later, Abdullah's grandson has fulfilled his legacy. And in the declaration you will sign, your role as guardian of Jerusalem's Muslim holy sites, Al Aqsa among them, has been preserved. And Israel has agreed to accord a high priority to Jordan's historic role regarding these holy sites in final status negotiations.

Prime Minister, when you first visited me in the White House, you spoke eloquently of your soldier's life, defending and guiding your nation through four bloody decades of struggling to survive. You told me your people had had enough bloodshed, that this was time to make peace. Ten months ago, you stood on this same lawn and shook the hand of Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian people. Today you stand together with King Hussein, descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, to declare that Jordan and Israel have ended their conflict. In holding out to your people the hope of a normal, secure life, you, sir, have fulfilled the mission of your life and of all those who have fought by your side for so long.

Now as we go forward, we must guard against illusions. Dark forces of hatred and violence still stalk your lands. We must not let them succeed.

King Hussein, Prime Minister Rabin, as you and your people embark on this journey of peace, we know the road will not be easy. Just as we have supported you in coming this far, the United States will walk the final miles with you. We must all go on until we ensure that the peace you are seeking prevails in the Holy Land and extends to all Israel's Arab neighbors. Our common objective of a comprehensive peace must be achieved.

Now as we witness the signing of this declaration and applaud the bravery of these men, let us remember that peace is much more than a pledge to abide by words on a page. It is a bold attempt to write a new history. Guided by the blessings of God, let us now go forward and give life to this declaration. For if we follow its course, we will truly achieve a peace of the generations.

Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:40 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at the Signing Ceremony for the Israel-Jordan Washington Declaration Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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