U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
ISRAEL FOREIGN MINISTER SHIMON PERES
JORDAN PRIME MINISTER ABDUL-SALAM MAJALI
DEAD SEA SPA HOTEL, JORDAN – JULY 20, 1994
SEC’Y CHRISTOPHER: Good afternoon. Before taking any questions that you have, I will be reading the communique, which is a joint communique issued by the three of us.
‘The U.S.-Israel-Jordan Trilateral Economic Commission held its fifth meeting on July 20, 1994 at the Dead Sea Spa Hotal in Jordan. At this meeting, the American delegation was headed by me, the Jordanian delegation was headed by Prime Minister Majali, and the Israeli delegation by Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. The three parties expressed their sincere thanks and appreciation to the government of Jordan for hosting this historic meeting.
The trilateral committee, established in October 1993 under the auspices of President Clinton by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Hassan and Foreign Minister Peres, reviewed recent progress in the peace process. The committee noted favorably the Israeli-Jordanian bilateral negotiations held in the region on July 18-19, 1994, and the intention to continue these discussions next month. The delegations reiterated their intention to energize efforts to promote further progress on the Israel-Jordan track, looking forward to the meeting between His Majesty King Hussein and Prime Minister Rabin in Washington on July 25, 1994.
The trilateral committee also reviewed recent progress on its work, and reached agreements on a number of future activities. The delegations agreed, in preparation for the meeting in the White House next week, to work on a master plan for the development of the Jordan Rift Valley. Meetings of experts earlier today indicated a substantial convergence of views on such a scheme and a common approach on proceeding. The experts will continue their meetings later today and tomorrow, and an intersessional meeting will be organized to unify the planning criteria and develop detailed terms of reference. The United States agreed to facilitate further the continued work on this master plan.
The trilateral committee also agreed to continue work on trade, financing, banking, civil aviation, tourism, and on establishing a road link between the two countries.
– On trade, the parties agreed on the establishment of a set of principles concerning the trade and commercial relationships between the two parties in the context of a peace treaty.
– On civil aviation, the parties agreed to establish a joint team to explore aviation routes, serving the interests of both countries, as well as the interests of flight safety.
– On tourism, the parties agreed on a travel and tourist arrangement, and to establish a trilateral commission to facilitate cooperation in this area, specifically the opening of a crossing point in the Eilat- Aqaba area for tourists who are third-country nationals.
– Finally, the parties agreed to conduct a preliminary site survey at a road linking Jordan, Israel and Egypt in the vicinity of Eilat and Aqaba.
The three Ministers agreed to meet again periodically in this region starting in the near future. Intersessional meetings of experts will also be organized to continue work on specific projects.’
Before I invite my colleagues to make a comment or open the meeting to questions, I’d like to say that I hope none of you will miss the true significance of today’s meeting. I worked rather closely with both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, but the striking fact is that this is the first that they publicly have been able to meet, and publicly been able to bring their great talent to working together. That is, I think, the true meaning of today. Now you have these two distinguished public servants able to meet on a regular basis and work together to solve the problems of their countries, which are neighbors that have been estranged for a long time. I think that the language of the communique is important, but the true meaning is the opportunity for the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister to bring their great talents for the benefit of their countries.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Q: We noticed from your speech today that you are trying to ignore anything concerning the problems and obstacles facing the negotiators, and you were talking happily about the future. Could you elaborate on that? Second, we haven’t heard anything from the Israeli government concerning any kind of withdrawal from the Jordanian land, and also the rights of water. On the other hand, we’ve been listening to a lot of speeches talking about the withdrawal from the Golan Heights. Could you elaborate also on that?
FM PERES: I admit my sin. I really believe that we can overcome the difficulties. It’s not for the first time. May I say that the Secretary of State raised the issue of meeting on the Jordanian land by the three of us half a year ago. It looked like an impossibility. And I believe that what happened in the last half year or so is very promising. I know that we have to deal with the problems. I would like first of all to express my thanks to the Prime Minister of Jordan for the very friendly and warm welcome, to the Secretary of State who took all the troubles to come here and organize this meeting. We are very serious. To tell you the truth, I have a sense of frustration that we waited so long. I think all of us are interested in progress.
Now to answer your question. The government of Israel does not intend to bite in the slightest way the respect, the sovereignty and the land of Jordan. We want an honorable peace. We want that our neighbors and partners will feel that they have had more than a fair deal, for all of us. Because the foundation of peace is also friendship. Then again, all of us are short of water, and even if we shall divide the rights, we shall not have more water. What we need is more water, not only more rights. While we do not deny the need to go into looking at the rights, we wouldn’t like to postpone also the need to try and produce more water for all of us, because all of us are short of water.
The nature of peace as I can see it, is while economic considerations should not replace political positions, on the other hand, political positions must be supported by economic endeavors, enterprises, for the benefit of all people. So I view we are very serious. For me, it is a very moving day. Things that a year ago looked like a dream, and I feel like waking up in the morning and I see that the dream is a reality.
Q: Mr. Majali, do you see Jordan signing a full peace treaty with Israel before Syria does?
PM MAJALI: I do not contribute to this ‘who signs before who’. Comprehensive peace is for the area. The area has to have a comprehensive peace for the good of everybody for the good of Jordan, of Israel, of the Palestinians, the Lebanese and the Syrians and the whole region. So who is to be signing first or second, this is immaterial. The main thing is we have the thrust of peace on all four fronts. So let us work on that. Every track has its own problems, has its own problems and difficulties. So the pace is different. One track could go on faster, and then for some reason or other stop and the other… It is not a black and white thing.
Q: Do you see any possibility that at the ceremony at the White House next week, Jordan and Israel will declare an end to the state of war? Do you see any other agreements being signed next Monday? Second, I’d like you to comment on Foreign Minister Peres’ idea, which is do you believe that instead of arguing over water rights, that the two sides will come together to build desalination plants and the like?
PM MAJALI: Mr. Peres has corrected you in saying that he said not ‘instead’. Not only are we discussing the shares of water, the rightful shares, we are discussing how to alleviate the shortage of water in all our area especially first between the two countries. But to do this in Washington, talk of this peace treaty and so on it is as I once said, if we have this chapter and we are going to write every chapter, that will be completed. But that does not mean any chapter not to go into implementation once both sides agree on it. Let us say we agree on the water. If both sides agreed to that, we would implement it before the culmination of all the parts of the peace treaty, which we hope to be as soon as possible. But when, it is not easy [to say].
Q: When will the state of war be ceased?
PM MAJALI: The war is behind. You cannot come and sit and negotiate peace with a mind of war, or even the ideas or the possibility. Take it out of your mind. Peace is a state of mind between the two people, and I think you have enough scenes today and the last week and in the rounds. It is there. So it’s not a matter of declaration. It is gone by. It is finished.
Q: Mr. Peres, by being here the first Israeli official to come and hold talks in Jordan, can we say that Israel is willing to renounce forever the idea of ‘Greater Israel’ and the idea of ‘Jordan is Palestine’?
FM PERES: Let me say that by me coming for the first time to Jordan, I told the Prime Minister and the Secretary, that among all the negotiations we have had until now, the negotiation with Jordan enjoys the support of the whole country, of all of Israel. I never saw such a deep and united support in Israel to really see peace with Jordan, with Hashemite Jordan, in full respect. ‘Greater Israel’, in my judgment, is not a matter of territory alone. To make a country great today, you have to look at its education, science, technology. As a matter of fact, Israel gave back land, if that is your reference, and giving is more than declaring. We gave back the land to Egypt, we have introduced a self-government in Gaza, we have indicated to the Syrians that we are ready for a territorial compromise. If you will unite all these factors, you will have the answer. May I say that peace is not the Mondial. We are not going to have one group winning. We are going to have all groups winning in understanding.
Q: (Arabic) Will Jordan be prepared to sign a peace treaty with Israel, or is there any hesitation? How will this be effected by the Israel-Syria track? If the negotiations in the Israel-Syria track should fail, how would this affect Jordan?
PM MAJALI: (Arabic) Jordan has no demands or aspirations in Israeli territory. We want to solve the problems between us. If we will succeed or not, that is hypothetical. Peace is the way, and the Syrians are moving in this direction as well, as is Lebanon. We believe in a comprehensive agreement, both they are not interdependent. Each track has its uniqueness and its own difficulties. A month ago, such a meeting was inconceivable. Things are constantly developing, so long as their are good intentions on all sides. Aspirations, demands this is what leads to war. When there are goon intentions, everything can be resolved.
Q: Now that you are finally here, can you tell us about your meeting with the King on November 3, what happened? How many times have you been to Amman in Jordan, and have you ever climbed in Petra?
FM PERES: We came here to make history, not to write history. That we shall do later on.
Q: That’s it?
FM PERES: That’s it, yes.
Q: Mr. Peres just spoke about honorable peace. What kind of peace between our countries do you foresee, and what kind of relations? Can we expect a cold peace, a warm peace, what kind of relations?
PM MAJALI: I don’t think there are certain thermometers with which they take the temperature of peace, low or high. I think peace is peace. Peace means no big problems between two countries, and this is what we are driving for. Certainly it is not easy to reach all your goals, but you can be even shorter of the final goal. There are lots of ways of doing this. The main thing is not to be aggressive or greedy from your side on other sides’ property and rights. That is the good neighborhood. In Arabic, in fact, it says: Treat others in the same manner like you would want to be treated by the other. So whether you are a neighbor, whether you are a brother, whether you are a cousin that’s the way we should take it and we should behave.
Q: Prime Minister Majali, I would ask you, will you elaborate an economic cooperation before signing a peace agreement? And when do you think you will be able to invite the private sector to implement the beautiful projects you are talking about?
PM MAJALI: Already I said in my speech, it is a chapter. And once you write the chapter about economy and you believe that you can implement it, it’s up to the two parties to do so. But the collection of these chapters will make the final one. We do not wait for everything, for everything else to move in the same way.
Q: Mr. Christopher, you came from Syria this morning. Will you tell us about the results of your talks with President Assad, and do you think peace will take place between Syria and Israel this year?
SEC’Y CHRISTOPHER: Yesterday in Damascus I met twice with the President. What I can say about the conversations is that they were useful, valuable, serious conversations. I came away with even a stronger conviction that the parties are determined to pursue the possibility of peace. I have met just the prior day with Prime Minister Rabin. It will be up to the parties the pace that they go forward, but what I can tell you is that they are absolutely serious about their endeavor. Whether it will reach its culmination before the end of the year in some kind of a document, I certainly hope so, but that will depend upon the parties. The United States can only play a facilitative role here, and I think that one of the indications as to pacing you might take from the fact that I intend to go back to Damascus on Friday, and I’ll be seeing Prime Minister Rabin probably tomorrow.
Q: Could you talk to us about the pace of changing the attitudes of your people? Should you be telling your people more or less than you are now?
PM MAJALI: We have been, every step we take, maybe different from every other place, we put everybody concerned in the picture, even in the media. I have met with the Parliament, with the Senate, with the government, with the officials in the various districts, and I talked to them about the pace of peace and where we are and where we are going, and so on and so forth. So this is no secret. In the media, if you read the Jordan papers, you will find a lot of expression about the peace. Certainly you will read some articles from the rejectionists of peace, but the majority and the top good majority are for the peace, and they follow it. In fact, sometimes they predict things before they come. We are always with the public, and tell the public what’s going on.
Q: (Hebrew) Mr. Peres, welcome to Amman. You know that your popularity here is such, that I wish you the same in Israel. A few days ago you said: Jordan is Jordan, Palestine is Palestine. And you said We don’t want to take Jordan’s water and don’t want to take Jordan’s land. Do you stand by this commitment of yours?
FM PERES: First of all about the previous question: Judging by the number of cameras, nobody can say that we keep peace as a secret. I think it became an open occasion, and we are very glad. My own feeling is that you don’t have to prepare people for peace. They are ready. What you have is to convince them that this is the reality. I think a meeting like this is a contribution to this conviction.
Now to the questions you have asked. I said in Israel, I want to repeat here, and I want to explain in a word why I said it. There were some people in Israel who said that Jordan is Palestine, and I made it clear: No, Jordan is Jordan, Jordan is not Palestine. In other words, we do not expect to solve the Palestinian problem in Jordan. What we really intend is to change our relations with Jordan without changing Jordan. Most of the Israelis, including myself, were sincere and strong supporters of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. We think it was a demonstration in most cases of responsibility, of a tested tradition of a rather civilized way of running things. And I think some of us were forced, including you and us, to really follow uninvited occasions. We hope it won’t happen any more in the future.
We have a Palestinian problem and we are going to solve it in Palestinians terms, namely to have an autonomy at the beginning in Gaza and Jericho, and later on to extend the autonomy to other places, either by early empowerment or otherwise. I want to make clear to our Jordanian friends: We do not want anything in our relations from Jordan to replace the need to change our relations with Syria or to solve the Palestinian problem. That is the reason why I say: Jordan is Jordan, and the Palestinian problem is the Palestinian problem. Clearly, in case of peace, we do not want to take from Jordan her proper land or her proper water.
What we have is to reach in full agreement, in full daylight, the marking of the frontier between Jordan and ourselves. We shall have to go into many details, technical and otherwise, but the principle of peace is that no one of us will grab the land of the other or will take away the water of the other. We are looking, as I have said, for a fair, honorable solution. A war may last for a few days. Peace must last forever. So the solutions must be of a permanent nature.
Q: We are going to have a summit meeting next Monday between Rabin and His Majesty King Hussein under the auspices of President Clinton, and this would be a sort of a culmination of the process. What can we still expect to be achieved in this summit meeting, except for the psychological and overall general importance of this? Majali said no announcement of non-belligerency; I asked him before, he told me no mutual recognition. Is there any tangible agreement that would be produced out of this summit meeting? Or an acceptance by the King to visit Jerusalem, for example?
MR. MAJALI: I did not say there is nothing. You asked whether we have discussed this. I said, no, we did not discuss it, and I am very precise on this and accurate.
The question whether we will visit Jerusalem. Once peace is achieved, this will be a normal thing. In Arabic we say: He who hastens things before its time, God will prevent him from having it. Not to try to push things before their time. Once it is time, it is right, it is good. If you eat the apple before its time, you will get a tummy cramp. So let us do things in the right time.
FM PERES: The aim is not the end of belligerency, the aim is the beginning of peace. I do believe that at the meeting of the King, the President and the Prime Minister, the main declaration will be that this is the beginning of the peaceful period between our two countries, with the full support of the United States. I think the meeting in itself has the value of a public declaration, because the millions and millions of people all over the world, including in our two countries, will be able to see. I can say for sure that the Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin, when he will speak in Washington before the Congress, he will be able to say: All parties in Israel, left and right, government and opposition, are anxious to have peace with the legitimate Kingdom of Jordan; that our intentions are serious. I think also the declaration may contain some elements that we didn’t speak yet, that may serve as the foundation of the peace in the future. I take it as a very serious event. I think it’s a departure from the past. I wouldn’t go just for a simple declaration to end the war. I think we have to go for the profound declaration: This is the beginning of peace.