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Remarks at the State Dinner for King Hussein of Jordan and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel

July 25, 1994

Your Majesties, Prime Minister and Mrs. Rabin, all our distinguished guests: Welcome to the White House. Today we have seen history in the making. And tonight we celebrate this marvelous occasion with King Hussein and Prime Minister Rabin and to all of you who for so long have supported their efforts for peace.

It's a special pleasure for Hillary and for me to welcome Queen Noor and Mrs. Rabin who, in their devotion to the health and the wellbeing of the children of their nations, prove that the quest for peace is not the only cause that knows no borders.

Today's signing of the Washington Declaration is the handiwork of many. But it is safe to say we would not be here tonight were it not for the persistent and far-sighted efforts of Crown Prince Hassan, Foreign Minister Peres, and our Secretary of State, Warren Christopher. I want to express my special gratitude to Secretary Christopher, who has brought such great energy and devotion to this task, and to applaud all three gentlemen for their efforts.

The Washington Declaration is a blueprint, both inspiring and practical, a foundation for lasting peace between two peoples who have been divided for too long. It is also clearly a personal tribute to two brave leaders, both called upon at a young age to shoulder enormous responsibilities, one to be a king, the other a defender of his people, brought together now at long last in the common cause of peace.

King Hussein, tonight we recall again the legacy of your grandfather and mentor, King Abdullah, a man who dreamed that one day, on both sides of the River Jordan, Arab and Jew could live together in peace and who lost his life for that dream of peace. At the age of 17, when most of us were still in school, you were left to shoulder the great weight of leading your people.

In the 42 years that have passed, you have led your kingdom through the stormy waters of the Middle East. You have improved the lives of your people and endowed your nation with a spirit of tolerance, civility, and compromise. You've built bridges between the Arab world and the United States through your actions as an advocate for stability and through your marriage to the Queen, herself a daughter of Americans who came from the Arab world. For that, we, sir, are in your debt.

And today you have moved to erase the divisions between the people of the two sides of the River Jordan. Tonight it can truly be said that you have fulfilled the legacy of King Abdullah.

Mr. Prime Minister, tonight we honor you, a son of the land of Israel. Your parents, Nehemia and Rosa, were among the first pioneers who came to Palestine. And like so many others of their generation, they devoted their lives to building a national home for the Jewish people.

Schooled in the science of agriculture, you once planned to devote your life to making the fields and deserts of Israel come alive. But at the age of 19, you answered the call to join the Palmach, destined to spend your life fighting to establish and defend the nation of Israel.

Now, after a life consumed by a war, you have become the architect of a great peace, building a homeland your parents could only imagine, a peaceful, prosperous land at harmony with its neighbors, a land where a new generation will be free to cast aside its weapons and fulfill your dream to make the valleys and deserts bloom. Tonight we honor you and the fulfillment of your legacy, sir.

These two men have crossed much hostile territory so that their children and their children's children need fight no more. They have earned this peace, and we are all in their debt.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to rise and join me in a toast to these men of courage, to their fine families, to the peoples of Jordan and Israel, and to the promise of peace.

NOTE: The President spoke at 8:36 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at the State Dinner for King Hussein of Jordan and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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