Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin: Good morning. I welcome you, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel. I believe that your brought a certain letter.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Holst: Yes, sir. I have a letter addressed to the Prime Minister of Israel and signed Yasser Arafat, the Chairman of the Palesitne Liberation Organization, the letter in which the PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security, and elaborates on the basis of that recognition.

(Prime Minister Rabin signs the document.)

Prime Minister Rabin: I have just received a letter from Chairman Arafat in the name of the leadership of the PLO, in which he takes commitments to recognize Israel and its right to exist in peace and security, to solve the long conflict between the Palestinians and Israel through negotiations in a peaceful way. He takes commitment to end terror and violence, to renounce it. He takes upon himself to look at the articles of the Palestinian Covenant inoperative and no longer valid.

I see in this commitment on the part of the PLO a change, a dramatic change, that opens the road towards reconciliation and peace between the Palestinians and Israel. It is the first agreement between Palestinians and Israel since the creation of the State of Israel.

I am fully aware about the difficulties that face the Palestinians and Israel in the solution of our problems. I see in it a big step towards the achievement of these goals, knowing that still it is a long way to go, with obstacles on the road that we shall have to remove, and it is possible to remove them.

I believe it starts a new era, era in which we will do our best to achieve peace and security to Israel, and at the same time to give the Palestinians the right, in the context of agreement about interim period, to run their affairs.

I believe that there is a great opportunity of changing not only the relations between the Palestinians and Israel, but to expand it to the solution of the conflict between Israel and other Arab countries and other Arab peoples.

It is an historic moment, that hopefully will bring about an end to 100 years of bloodshed, misery, between the Palestinians and Jews, between Palestinians and Israel.

I would like to thank you, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, for your efforts, for your involvement in the achievement of these papers and others. I would like to thank you, Shimon, for your efforts to bring it about. As I said, it’s only the beginning, but a tremendously important beginning.

Foreign Minister Holst: Mr. Prime Minister, let me just very briefly state how pleased we have been and how humble I feel having had a chance to play a small role in this very important endeavor to bring peace to the embattled area of the Middle East. It has been a very long journey, and some very dedicated people have worked very very hard to produce the documents that settle the immediate matters that needed to be settled.

We have had the privilege of working together with some fantastic Israelis, and equally with some unique Palestinians in finding a solution to what increasingly came to be seen as common challenges, common problems. And when I see the kind of spirit, the kind of cooperation that developed between the two groups of people, who so ably and so tenaciously represented their different sides, I feel that the future is bright indeed. There is hope.

I think one has, as the Prime Minister said, entered a new era. We have gone beyond the stage, the decisions could only be made by consensus. You had to break by the consensus in order to make to the necessary decisions and in order to provide a basis from which you can build a new consensus.

It seems to me that the importance of the documents that have now been initialed and signed is that we have created a new basis for building a common future in the Middle East. One has put history behind us, and we are looking towards the future. And the Declaration of Principles that have been agreed between the two sides, it seems to me, points towards a future which you will have to build together, and by common endeavor rather than in common conflict.

So, my only task is to thank you very much for everything that you have done in accomplishing this very very important result, and for giving us a chance to serve in that very very important endeavor.

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres: I would like to take this opportunity to thank, first of all, the Norwegian people and Norway – a wonderful land that has embraced the peace negotiations with such an open heart and hospitality. I would like to thank you, Johan, for your tireless and brilliant work. And, with your permission, I would like to have a look at Mariana, your wife, and at Moona and Terry Larson. These were the four people that days and nights were working tirelessly, without distinguishing between land and air, and day and night. We are very grateful for what you have done, and our thanks comes from the depth of our hearts to all of you, and you particularly.

As the Prime Minister has said, we understand the seriousness of the moment for our own people. It is for them a new experiment. We know that this is not just a political accord, this is really something that relates to every family in our country – to the mother, to the father, to the children – what will be really the future life like. And we understand the seriousness of it.

I want to say also that we wish from the depth of our hearts to the Palestinian people, a different future. We don’t hate people and we don’t hate persons. What we were trying seriously is to get rid of a poisonous past. And, to use a Biblical wish, to return to a land of milk and honey. We can do, and we have to live accordingly.

I think that all of us will work tirelessly to make this agreement, which until this moment is a piece of paper, into a new reality. For me, it was a privilege to work with the Prime Minister. I think both of us felt deeply that we are serving a great cause and a great occasion, and we must meet the size and the seriousness of it.

I would like also to thank from the depth of my heart to the Israeli teams. I won’t mention names, but there are people who worked very very hard, and we thank them as well.

Again, we are departing to a new future. Difficult was this day as well. So we are not going to face a situation without difficulties. But the difference is that we are going to face a new day with many chances and hopes – for us, for our neighbors, and for the whole of the Middle East.