Location: Sheraton Washington Hotel
Time: 1:20 p.m. EST
March 21, 1993
ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER YITZHAK RABIN: Thank you. President of AIPAC, Dr. Steve Grossman, the ambassador of Israel Itamara Rabinovich, the distinguished members of the head table, the members and the friends of AIPAC, I speak to you from Jerusalem at a period in which Israel struggles simultaneously, on two fronts: on the efforts, through peace negotiations to end a long Arab-Israeli conflict, to bring an end to the continued bloodshed on both sides, and at the same time, to cope with the violence and terrorism that try to interfere, interfere in the efforts to resume the peace negotiations and to conclude them properly.
It’s a period which is not so simple. It’s not so simple to explain to the people of Israel that we have to negotiate with partners that, at the same time, use violence, will it be from Lebanon by Hezbollah, will it be by the Palestinians from the territories that are trying to kill Israelis by knifing in the streets of Tel Aviv, or to kill people who work in the fields and to antagonize our soldiers in the territories, I believe that Israel and the present government will be determined to cope with the terror as there are no peace negotiations, but to continue with the peace negotiations, as there is no terror.
This is the way to end the long conflict and, at the same time, to give the maximum security, nationally and personally, to the people of Israel.
Allow me to apologize that I am not with you at this meeting. I believe that I had to cut my visit to the United States short because the last week was a painful week, for Israelis were assassinated kills, soldiers and civilians. Many attempts were made on the life of the Israelis, and I believe that I had to be here in the cabinet meeting today, in the Knesset meeting tomorrow. I believe that the ambassador of Israel will represent Israel and myself in the most excellent way.
I think that I have to report to you the results of my meeting with President Clinton, the secretary of state, the vice president, the secretary of defense and many distinguished members of the administration and, of course, the leadership and the members of the two houses on the Hill. Allow me first to say that I came back home with great confidence in the president of the United States and his administration, his friendliness to Israel, his readiness to assist Israel in our efforts to achieve peace and to maintain our security.
The policy of my government is to achieve peace and security. And no doubt there is nothing more important to the region, to the countries of the people and to Israel than to achieve this goal. And I believe that in achieving this goal both sides have to make compromises. Peace you make not with friends, with present enemies of you, and therefore there is a need to solve practical issues and to overcome psychological barriers, barriers that have been built in tens of years of violence, war, terror, hatred on both sides, and backlog of negative emotions.
It’s not a simple mission, but we are determined to continue with the peace negotiations. I was more than pleased that when I said to President Clinton that we are ready to take risks, calculated risks, for the achievement of peace, his answer was when you take risks for peace, it’s our responsibility, the United States’ responsibility to minimize your risk by assisting you militarily and economically. I more than appreciate this statement by President Clinton.
In the long discussions that we have had, I believe that we succeeded to cover all the problems that are related first to the resumption of the peace negotiation, second, in which direction to go, to the extent that it will be possible together, on the three different Arab delegations in their negotiations with us.
I believe that in preparation for this meeting, when this administration, the Clinton administration and we had to deal with a difficult problem, the temporary removal or deportation of the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad leaders instigators, organizers of terror, we found understanding. We created the kind of confidence, credibility in our relationships that for my humble opinion are the most important in the relationships between the leadership of our two countries.
Whenever there is a confidence, whenever there is a credibility to what has been agreed, the United States and Israel have managed, in many, many years, to work together, to solve problems together. I also very much appreciate decisions that have been made by President Clinton on the bilateral relations. First and foremost, his decision that in the budget of fiscal year ’94 the level of assistance to Israel will not be reduced, will be maintained, the same level as it was kept in the last eight years. I believe it is a tremendous contribution by the president for these coming years in which Israel will have to cope with the problems of the peace negotiations and each national and personal security problems.
I believe that the proposal by the president to upgrade the negotiation within the framework, the cooperation within the framework of the strategic cooperation, no doubt will open new horizons for exchanging views and, of course, finding ways wherever it would serve the interest of our two countries, to work together.
The president’s proposal to have a binational commission on high tech, in which experts on two sides will find the fields in high tech in which we can cooperate, in addition to the binational funds that have been created, no doubt will give hope to Israel that would like to develop each economy as the most progressive country in the region and not only in the region.
I believe that the readiness of the president to bring before the G-7 the issue of the Arab boycott, which is in practical terms an economic war against Israel’s economy and against Israel society, is very much appreciated by me, by the government of Israel. I feel that in this meeting, that lasted for four hours, we have established a solid basis of looking together and being assisted by the United States in Israel efforts to achieve peace, to cope with terror and to bring reform to our economy and society.
I appreciate very much the meetings that I held on the Hill. I’ve met 47 senators, 61 members of the House of Representatives. I met the leadership of the two houses. I met the committees on foreign affairs and the friends of the two houses and, of course, many friends of Israel on the Hill. I found understanding, but at the same time, I sensed also that the issue of foreign aid bill is not the most popular nowadays in the United States and on the Hill.
I ask all the friends of Israel, first and foremost the AIPAC people, AIPAC activities, to make sure that what the administration, the president have proposed in the budget for Fiscal Year 94 will be supported in the Congress and all the items that are related, first and foremost the military and the economic aid, joint ventures in the field of defense, joint ventures in the field of research and development, really will be carried out. I am sure it will serve the interest of our two countries.
And no doubt last not least, I met the leadership of the Jewish community of the United States, our friends, our partners. Together we have gone a long way in which we assisted one another and we succeeded to achieve the dream of generations of Jews in the last 2000 years: the revival of a Jewish state in the only place in which a Jewish state can be created, developed and achieve its goal in the land of Israel.
I am more than thankful to you, members and the leadership of AIPAC. From time to time, we had differences, but I am sure that there is no more effective organization of American people who are ready to support, to help Israel in the fields of its activity. You are the most effective American Jewish and non-Jewish organization that so much helped Israel, brought the message of Israel from the American point of view, not only from the Israeli point of view. But first and foremost, you have done what you have done and assisted us so much as Americans from the interest, the real interest of the United States that has tried and tries to achieve tranquility, stability, and peace in the region, which cannot be achieved with a strong Israel that aspires to peace and is ready to defend itself by itself without depending on American military forces to come to its assistance.
Allow me to say to you that I am sure that I express the people of Israel, regardless to parties, in giving you our thanks and asking you to continue your holy work for the state of Israel, for the good relations between our two countries. Thank you very much.
Q: What more can the United States do to ensure that Israel maintains its qualitative edge?
PRIME MINISTER RABIN: Well, this was one of the issues that I discussed with President Clinton, the secretary of state and in more detail in the Pentagon with the secretary of defense. I believe that the United States allows us to main the qualitative edge by the structure and maintaining the same structure of the FMS money that, as a result of it, we can spend over $400 million in Israel in R&D and protection Israeli institution, to adjust our needs, military needs, that are specially to us, in our conditions, assisting by American technology and by our capability based on our unfortunately rich combat experience.
Second, by the continuation of the support to the Arab Project, today Israel is in the lead in the development of ATBM, anti-tactical ballistic missile. We have done so in close cooperation with American officers and officials. It’s an integrated Israeli-American project. We succeeded in proving the technological feasibility of such an interception of ground- to-ground technical missile, by the interceptor missile, and after the successful experiment or test, I’m sure that we’ll gain support.
Thirdly, in allowing us access to the arsenal of the advanced conventional American weapons, I believe that what has been done will continue and will be increased. The president understands very well that Israel has to compensate our inferiority in numbers but by superiority in the qualitative of weapons and, no doubt, the people that operate them.
Q: We will be going to Capitol Hill to visit with members of Congress and the Senate on Tuesday morning. 2,000 of us will be going. What particular message did you bring to Capitol Hill on how Congress can support the peace process that we should know about as we go to spend some time with our members of Congress and our Senate members on Tuesday morning?
PRIME MINISTER RABIN: First, thank you very much for your decision to go there and to try to convince the senators, the congressmen in the need of Israel in this period, when we, on one hand, making real effort, readiness on our part for compromises, taking risks for peace, to ensure that the United States will support these efforts by Israel, as the president said, by minimizing our risks, by military aid, economic aid, understanding of the threat of the Islamic extremist terror groups not only to Israel. Look what happened in Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon. All are inspired, organized and instigated by Iran. It’s a threat to all moderate regimes. It’s a threat to the efforts for the continuation of the peace negotiations.
The United STAtes has to continue its support and to prove to the region, to the peoples, to the countries, that its readiness to assist those who seek peace and ready to bring economic and social reform, and to try to contain that when the dangerous trend of the Islamic fundamentalistic terrorist organization and the country that backs them.