PRIME MINISTER YITZHAK RABIN’S ADDRESS AT ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN INTERIM AGREEMENT SIGNING CEREMONY

WASHINGTON D.C. SEPTEMBER 28, 1995

(Communicated by Prime Minister’s Media Advisor)

The President of the United States
King Hussein
President Mubarak
Chairman Arafat
Prime Ministers
Foreign Ministers
Distinguished members of the two Houses of Congress
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Now, after a long series of formal, festive statements, take a look at this stage. The King of Jordan, the President of Egypt, Chairman Arafat, and us, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of Israel, on one platform with the President of the United States.

Please take a good, hard look. The sight you see before you at this moment was impossible, was unthinkable, just two years ago. Only poets dreamed of it; and, to our great pain, soldiers and civilians went to their deaths to make this moment possible.

Here we stand before you, men whom fate and history have sent on a mission of peace: to end, once and for all, one hundred years of bloodshed.

Our dream is also your dream. King Hussein, President Mubarak, Chairman Arafat, all the others, and above all, assisting us, President Bill Clinton a president who is working in the service of peace we all love the same children, weep the same tears, hate the same enmity, and pray for reconciliation. Peace has no borders.

Yes, I know: our speeches are already repeating themselves. Perhaps this picture has already become routine. The handshakes no longer set your pulse racing; your loving hearts no longer pound with emotion, as they did then. We have begun to get used to each other. We’re like old acquaintances. We have begun to get used to each other. We are like old acquaintances. I can tell you about all about Arafat’s quirks, and his friend can tell you all about ours.

We have matured in the two years since we first shook hands here, the handshake that was the sign and symbol of the start of reconciliation. Today we are more sober. We are gladdened by the potential for reconciliation, but we are also wary of the dangers that lurk on every side. The enemies of yesterday share a common enemy today and in the future: the terrorism that sows death in our homes and on the buses that ply the streets. The sounds of celebration here cannot drown out the cries of innocent citizens who travelled those buses to their deaths. And your eyes shining here cannot erase for a single moment the sight of the lifeless eyes of the students who were going to their classes and the housewives who were on their way to market when hatred struck them down. We are pained by their deaths, and remember them with love.

I want to say to you, Chairman Arafat, the leader of the Palestinians: Together, we should not let the land flowing with milk and honey become a land flowing with blood and tears. Don’t let it happen. If all the partners to the peace-making do not unite against the evil angels of death by terrorism, all that will remain of this ceremony are color snapshots, empty mementos. Rivers of hatred will overflow again and swamp the Middle East. We, gentlemen, will not permit terrorism to defeat peace. We will not allow it. If we do not have partners in this bitter, difficult war, we will fight it alone. We know how to fight, and we know how to win.

My brother Jews: Thousands of years of exile and the dream of generations have returned us to our historic home in the Land of Israel, the Land of the Prophets.

Etched on every vineyard, every field, every olive tree, every flower is the deep imprint of Jewish history, of the Book of Books that we have bequeathed to the entire world, of the values of morality and justice.

Every place in the Land of the Prophets, every name is an integral part of our heritage of thousands of years, of the Divine promise to us and to our descendants. Here is where we were born. Here is where we created a nation. Here we forged a haven for the persecuted and built a model democratic country.

But we are not alone here on this soil, in this land. And so we are sharing this good earth today with the Palestinian people in order to choose life. Starting today, an agreement on paper will be translated into reality on the ground. We are not retreating. We are not leaving. We are yielding and we are doing so for the sake of peace.

Our neighbors, the Palestinian people: We who have seen you in your difficulties and poverty for generations, we who have killed and have been killed, are walking beside you now toward a common future, and we want you as good neighbors.

Ladies and Gentlemen: This week the Jewish people in its thousands of places of dispersion has marked the New Year, and in their holiday prayers, Jews everywhere are saying:

"May we be remembered and inscribed before You in the Book of Life and of blessing and peace and prosperity, of deliverance and comfort and opportunity, we and all Your people, the House of Israel, for a good life and peace."

These are my wishes to all the Jewish people. These are my wishes to all the citizens of Israel: a good life and peace. These are also our wishes to our neighbors, and to all the world’s peoples: a good life and peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Look at us again. Look at this scene on the stage, here in the White House. You are not excited any more. You have grown accustomed to it. But in order for peace to be complete, in order for this picture to be complete and for the Middle East to become a jewel in the world’s crown, it still lacks two people: the President of Syria and the President of Lebanon. I call upon them to come and join us, to come to the platform of peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen: If and when this happens, we will again ask President Clinton to be our gracious host; we will again ask King Hussein, President Mubarak, Chairman Arafat, and all the others to return here, to be partners in the glorious picture of all the peoples of the Middle East dwelling in security and peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Let me extend my wish, to all of us, that we may meet here again and soon. Happy New Year. Shana Tova.