July 10, 2000
As I embark on a mission of peace on the invitation of President Bill Clinton, I bear with me the aspirations of the entire Israeli people, its hopes and its prayers for peace and security in our country.
In Ecclesiastes it is written: "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven… A time for war, and a time for peace." In time of war, we knew how to make sacrifices and show courage and to win. The best of my young, daring colleagues fell on the battlefields. They are before my eyes today, they and the entire family of the bereaved, and I remember them, one by one.
As Chaim Gouri wrote during the War of Independence, "The moment of truth is close, and I am prepared for it."
One hundred years of enmity and struggle meet at this point in time. Behind me far too many lie buried, there has been suffering and anguish on both sides – because there is an unbearably high price not only to defeat but also to victory. The time has now come to put an end to the conflict, to give hope the flower of our youth, that they may flourish undisturbed.
The time has come to take decisions and to bequeath a better future to our children, a different reality from that known by our and our parents’ generations. This is the time to devote our best resources to education, to reducing unemployment, to bridging social gaps, to equal opportunity, and to taking advantage of the enormous talents of our young generation.
This is the meaning of peace and security. There is no peace without a price, just as there is no peace at all costs. The dream and the ideal are lofty, and they will never be straightforward and perfect. The reality of life is highly complex and complicated. A painful compromise is required. There is no choice.
I am embarking on this mission bound heart and soul to every single part of the landscape of Israel and the heritage that has grown out of it. As a simple soldier, as a commander, as commander in chief, this country and its streams, its stones, were the source of inspiration for everything I did. I am bound up with its human and geographic topography, its towns and natural landscapes, throughout the country.
The negotiations will be heart-rending and difficult because they will involve not distant maps and locations, our beloved homeland. They will involve roots planted deep in the hills, and the love of the homeland to which I am bound and committed. This is a love that cannot be divided by any imaginary line on the map.
If we do reach a settlement that will put an end to the conflict, there will be a heavy but necessary price to pay. As Menachem Begin said, "The difficulties of peace are better than the agonies of war."
If there is an agreement, it will only be one that will strengthen the security of Israel, its economy, and its regional and international standing. Otherwise, there will be no agreement.
If there is an agreement, it will only be one that will comply with the principles, to which I committed myself before I was elected, and principles that I have consistently and repeatedly stressed: a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty; the ’67 borders will be amended; the overwhelming majority of the settlers in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip will be in settlement blocs under Israeli sovereignty; no foreign army in the entire area west of the Jordan River; and a solution of the problem of refugees outside Israeli sovereign territory.
These are the principles – these and no others. If there is an agreement, I will submit it, as I promised, to the Israeli people for decision. It is the Israeli people who will decide on the agreement in a referendum. I will sign the agreement only if I am convinced that it strengthens Israel and its future. Such an agreement will, I am sure, be approved and endorsed by an overwhelming majority of the Israeli people, and I am sure by a majority of the Israeli residents of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.
If there is an agreement, it will require a compromise, not only by ourselves, but also a painful compromise by the Palestinians; otherwise, there will be no agreement.
I would like to take this opportunity, on the eve of the summit, to address the Palestinian leadership and people and ask them to clear the air of accusations, threats and gloomy prophecies, and to rise to the greatness of the hour.
We are arriving at a decisive crossroads in the future relationship between us. The choice between us is between the peace of the brave, which will put the relationships between us on a positive track of good neighborliness and prosperity; or, God forbid, will lead to violent conflict, that will lead to further suffering and victims, and will not solve anything.
The State of Israel does not wish to control you and your future. We want good neighborly relations with you based on respect and liberty, on broad coordination, on shared interests, and on a separation that will allow you and us to maintain independent identities, development and free choice.
And I look forward to Yasser Arafat coming to Camp David with the full backing of the Palestinian people to achieve a historic peace. I expect him to come full of resolution and the ability to make a decision in order together to achieve our goal. Together, with the help of the President of the United States, we will be able to bring peace and security to our peoples.
This is a moment of opportunity that will not reoccur. It is accompanied by major risks. And if, God forbid, we should fail, then the risks, and not the opportunities, will come true.
As we leave, I and all members of the delegation are accompanied by the hopes and prayers of Israel’s citizens. I am accompanied by the fear of the mother and the concern of the father for their soldier son. I am accompanied by the anguish of those among us who have suffered the greatest loss of all, and by their hope that such bereavement should not be visited on any other Israeli homes. I am accompanied by the brave suffering of those soldiers who have been wounded and disabled in battle, who bear the scars of war.
I recognize the heavy responsibility and the great privilege of being Israel’s representative at this historic hour, where we will try to take advantage of this opportunity to put an end to enmity and violence. We seek to dispel the clouds of conflict and allow the light of peace and security shine on us and on our children with a bright, promising light.
On embarking on this mission, beyond the tumult of the political arena, I hear the real voice of Israel’s citizens reinforcing me with their support and their blessings. Together with them, I will conclude with the words from the prayer: "May You grant peace and benediction to us and all of Israel, Thy people. May You bless all Your people with strength and peace. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who blesses Your people with peace. Amen."
|Address to the Knesset by PM Barak on the Camp David Summit – July 10, 2000|
|The Camp David Summit – July 2000|