ADDRESS BY FOREIGN MINISTER SHIMON PERES IN JORDAN AT THE OPENING OF THE 5TH SESSION OF THE TRILATERAL TALKS BETWEEN ISRAEL, JORDAN AND THE U.S.A.

JULY 20, 1994

Prime Minister Majali and the Jordanian delegation, Secretary of State Warren Christopher and the American delegation, and friends from the Israeli delegation, ladies and gentlemen:

It took us 15 minutes to fly over. It took us 46 years to arrive to this time and this place of peace and promise. Historically, we started at the same point. Politically, we are now embarking upon the same destiny: to bring an entirely new situation to our people.

It is a time for peace. The people desire it. The land needs it. The Dead Sea, silent and deep, may become a symbol of new life. The Arava desert which, like a knife, cuts the valley in two, can become a unifying element, a domain of bloom between our two countries.

The meeting today must remind us of a place, of a date, of a destiny.

The place, not far from here, is Gueira, north of Aqaba. That is where the younger brother of the late King Abdullah, Emir Faisal Ibn-Hussein, met with the leader of the Jewish people, Dr. Weizmann. It was a first meeting of representatives of two national movements.

Faisal summarized his views in a letter he sent to Justice Felix Franfurter in March 1919, from which I quote:

‘We feel that the Arabs and the Jews are cousins in race, having suffered similar oppressions at the hands of powers stronger than themselves… We are working together for a reformed and revived Middle East and our two movements complete one another… Indeed I think that neither can be a real success without the other.’

A promising voice in the prevailing wilderness.

The date is the 20th of July. The founder and leader of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, His Majesty King Abdullah, emerged as a man of far-sighted vision and appropriate political judgement. His kingdom was based on human and Arab values. He introduced a policy that offered peace before war, peace instead of war, peace to end war. He negotiated this policy with many of us. Some of these negotiations bore fruit, others saved lives, yet partly they failed in the face of existing suspicions. Nonetheless, they laid a foundation for a unique relationship hidden and open between Jordan and Israel: We never forgot the need for peace, even in the gloomy days of open warfare.

King Abdullah was assassinated in front of his young grandson, His Majesty King Hussein. This occurred on the the 20th of July, 1951, the very same day of our meeting now. He gave his life for the cause of peace. Nothing can mark his life and death more than the arrival of peace on the very same day.

The destiny is peace. The silent pledge of the wise King became the destiny of his grandson, His Majesty King Hussein, and the expectations of the disciples of the Israeli leaders, who looked for every opportunity to bring an end to wars, to create a new opening with our neighbors.

His Majesty King Hussein demonstrated stamina in face of uninvited dangers, and he has shown courage in reading impending opportunities. What is taking place today, Mr. Prime Minister and Mr. Secretary, may be the light at the end of the tunnel we have crossed, and may end the swing of the pendulum, which has swayed from the pole of blind hatred stemming from misunderstanding, often created by neither of us, to the pole of political trust serving permanently the needs common to us all.

Time has arrived to disperse old shadows. To permit legitimate peace and promising economy to play their proper role in our destinies. Time has come for our families, whose roots sprang from the tent of Abraham, to invite hospitality instead of perpetuating hostility. No more hostages. We can host each other gladly and easily.

The border between Israel and Jordan is the longest we have with any of our neighbors. We can mark it now by mutual agreement, respecting the sovreignty and integrity of each of us.

The border touches three triangles: a Jordanian-Israeli-Palestinian one; a Jordanian-Israeli-Egyptian one; a Jordanian-Israeli-Syrian one.

Facilitated by our great friend, the United States of America, its President and its Secretary, we brought reason and agreement to two of those triangles. We do not intend to exclude the third one. Negotiations between Jordan and Israel do not call for the postponement of the negotiations with Syria and Lebanon. Our aim remains to reach a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. To build a new Middle East of peace.

Peace with Jordan is central to the construction of a new Middle East. The centrality of its location, its impressive civilized and tested tradition, may provide a real advantage for a durable rapport, for a framework of peace and security in the region.

We are now beginning to move, and move openly. Peace needs daylight. The path ahead, the path we shall negotiate, may be full of hurdles and long in distance. But I do not harbor the slightest doubt that we can overcome the hurdles, shorten the distance, and reap early benefits both for our people and other people in the Middle East.

I am convinced that the construction of a new Middle East will attract investors from all over the world. This ancient land, which cannot be forgotten, may become the new opportunity which cannot be overlooked.

The peace process will not end with the signatures of our political leaders. Indeed only then will it begin. And our target should be, that before the end of the 20th century, we will face a new political and economic landscape. A landscape where borders will be open, where Jordanians will not be stopped at Eilat or Israelis in Aqaba. Where new, sophisticated industries will offer job opportunities to the young generation. Where waterways will cover the brown deserts, and where sea ports and airports will be combined to serve all tourists to visit holy places, to be cured in the hot springs or to view beautiful antiquities. Where the skies will be open to competitive aviation and land distances will be shortened by new railways and highways. Where water and oil will be carried in pipelines laid to answer economic needs rather than strategic worries; and where the electricity systems will be connected to save billions of dollars.

Even before the sunset of this century we can, together, reclaim land lost to desert. We can reclaim sea water to irrigate new fields, new gardens, new cities.

We can change the face of the map, and create in the broken rift a new structure of life. We have prepared our view how the future will look in a rather detailed manner. We can transform a boundary of gloom into a valley of hope.

Farmers will then replace soldiers, greenhouses will come instead of barracks, dunes will submit to plantations.

Nature and reason have issued an invitation to this effect: the minerals of the Dead Sea, the innocence of the landscape, the varying levels of the terrain, the fatigue of war all of them await a new soul and a new hand.

What was started on the first of October last year in the White House, the trilateral agreement reached between the President of the United States, the Crown Prince of Jordan and myself, and what is happening today, will be crowned in the summit meeting in Washington between President Clinton, His Majesty King Hussein and the Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin. It should become the start of a new era. None of us can permit it to fail, and all of us must make a dual attempt to bring durable peace and promising economy to our midst.

We shall have to demonstrate that a geographic rift has been transformed into an economic backbone and a political divide has become a valley of wisdom.

To cherish the memory our fallen youngsters is to build the correct future for the youngsters who follow in their ways.

This time Mr. Prime Minister and Mr. Secretary, history is on our side: We are offered a strong and fresh wind our sails must be ready.