FOREIGN MINISTER SHIMON PERES’ ADDRESS AT ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN INTERIM AGREEMENT SIGNING CEREMONY

WASHINGTON D.C. SEPTEMBER 28, 1995

Mr. President of the United States of America,
Majesties, Excellencies and friends,

In these Holy Days for our people, we pray: "Mi ye’ani umi ye’asher … mi yeshafel umi yarom" – "Who shall be cast down, and who shall be uplifted."

God’s verdict, our choice. I felt its meaning when, hours before Rosh Hashana, we did not know if we would fail or succeed. And once it was decided, I knew that a dream had become a contract, and an impasse, an opportunity. Nobody forced us, not everybody agreed with us. Yet it was done not out of fear or weakness.

It was our free choice. Our moral preference: Not to compel ourselves to be the rulers of another people, to be the rulers of the Palestinian people.

Once the agreement will be implemented, no longer will the Palestinians reside under our domination. They will gain self-rule, and we shall return to our heritage.

The talks were like negotiating on a tightrope over a scenery full of mountains of hatred, and chasms of fear. The road was uncharted, the process unprecedented. Yet we have arrived.

The agreement should be judged by its potential, not just by its content. It will introduce the agenda of the twenty-first century into the miseries of the Middle East. An agenda of cultural pluralism, economic prosperity, market economy, industry, science, budgets that give priority to education, and, finally, a democracy supported by participation and offering equality.

Now, Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinians and Israel can convert the rift into a height of culture and economy, carrying the peace to awaiting destinations, to invite the Syrians and the Lebanese to join in, so to make it comprehensive, for all of us.

It is an agreement to end confrontation, and a promise to the young generations Muslims, Christians, Jews to be free from the clouds of war, the insults of tyranny, the alienations of suspicion. To enable them to travel freely, pray uninterruptedly, and see in their pasts, not a burden, but a permit for their own genesis.

There is no future for posterity if there is no peace. I watched the change at the negotiations in Eilat and Taba. Had they taken place a few years ago, probably everybody the Palestinians and us would have come with rifles. Now they carried doubts. Doubts are better than rifles. So, finally, it wound up as a group, almost a united gruop, in search of peace.

I could not but think of the young boys and girls who lost their lives enabling these meetings to become an opportunity for the next generation. Prime Minister Rabin and I are experienced enough to relate to the youngsters. We knew that the choice we made contains risks, but avoiding it would invite hopelessness.

We served a world sick of violence, an age tired of failure, a future anxious for a new vision.

I would like to thank the United States, its people, its President, for the unique role they played in the peace-making, the Russians for co-sponsoring it, the Europeans for their strong backing to build a European-like future.

I thank President Mubarak and King Hussein for being at peace and advancing peace, all over, and invite Chairman Arafat to the new endeavor. We wish the Palestinian people peace, democracy, prosperity. We were born in the same cradle, then we fought each other on the same front. Too long. Now we can embark on a voyage to make our relations family- like again.

I wish the Jewish people, my brothers and sisters, a happy New Year, on the road to fulfill our ancient dream: "Lihiot am hofshi be-artzeinu, be-eretz Zion ve-Yerushalay" – "To be a free people in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem." To be free in a commonwealth of peace and freedom, emerging in our troubled and promising land, beloved land, in the Middle East.