October 27, 1994

The following is the text of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s speech to the Knesset during the visit of President William J. Clinton, Thursday, October 27, 1994:

The Honorable President of the United States,
The Honorable President of the State of Israel,
Mr. Speaker,
Honored Members of Knesset,
Honored Guests,

We welcome you to Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Israel and the heart of the Jewish People. Today, the State of Israel warmly opens its heart and extends its hand to you. Mr. President, you are at home.

Permit me to wish a happy birthday to two people. I would like to do it in English. I wish Hillary Clinton a happy birthday. Yesterday was her birthday, and today is the birthday of Secretary of State Warren Christopher. Many happy returns. There is no way to measure the debt we owe the United States of America, and you personally. The State of Israel sends its deeply heartfelt thanks.

Mr. President,

You are a large superpower with over two hundred and fifty million citizens. Our country is small, both in territory and in population. We number only slightly more than five million people.

What is the connection that has bound us together in unprecedented friendship for two generations? Why do our hearts always swell when we meet with you, with other members of your administration, with members of both Houses of Congress and the American people? How did it happen that we believe and trust in you so?

The answer contains many elements: shared values, a shared cultural heritage, even if the religions are different, based upon the Book of Books, a large Jewish community, and of course, shared political and security interests.

Mr. President,

Here before you is my answer: The warmth that radiates toward us from the White House, Capitol Hill and the American public is a warmth which crosses seas and oceans, and spans the thousands of miles separating Washington from Jerusalem, and Jerusalem from Washington. This warmth, first and foremost, is built upon decades of mutual trust that has no parallel. A trust that has been fostered over many years, that has been built with diligence, brick by brick.

We have always known that our legitimate and justified concerns about peace and security were the genuine concerns of the United States, as well. My meetings with you, Mr. President, are honest and open on both sides and a source of gratification for the State of Israel.

There are those who say that your spiritual mentor, Dr. Vought, summoned you to his deathbed and made you give your word that if you ever reached the high office of President of the United States, and became the leader of the free world you would never harm the State of Israel. I do not know if the story is true; I never asked you. I know only this: if it is true, we can today say to Pastor Vought, with full hearts rest in peace; your last wish has been fulfilled.

Mr. President of the United States,

You have come to our region a region which has suffered wars, violence and terrorism, during one of its greatest and most difficult hours. Yesterday, you were a senior partner to the signing ceremony of a peace treaty between the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

After yesterday’s ceremony, we awakened this morning to a new reality; now we have to mold the contents of this peace. Peace, we said yesterday, is made between people who dream about and desire peace and, in Amman and Jerusalem, there are many such people.

Peace yesterday with Jordan, we hope, will bring an end to the era of war in the Middle East, wars that inflicted great suffering on the population of our region and were also of concern to the entire world. We are positive and confident that, as always, we will find both you and your country assisting us and Jordan in fostering this peace.

Behind us is the Declaration of Principles with the PLO that has put an end to a bloody conflict that has endured for over 100 years. Before us, there is still much work to do in settling the differences between us and particularly in cultivating good neighborly relations between the two peoples; because peace, as we have said, is made between people.

Behind us is the peace treaty with Jordan. Before us, the continuation of negotiations with Syria. In order to give added force to the two words we have said thousands of times, from every podium and in every policy statement over the past two generations: we seek a comprehensive peace. Peace for everyone, peace with all Arab countries, peace with the Muslim world.

We know that, in Arab countries and among the Palestinians, there is broad support for peace and its makers even if we have not realized all its phases.

Still, let us speak the truth: there are enemies of peace. They employ terror, and sow destruction and death. They murder and abduct. They shoot indiscriminately. Only recently, they placed a fatal explosive charge on a bus in the heart of Tel Aviv killing 22 of its passengers only because they were Jews and Israelis. They murdered IDF soldier Nahshon Wachsman, whose parents’ pained eyes now watch us from the gallery. We do not intend to surrender to terrorism, and we will act to strike at the terrorists. Last week, in an action against terrorists, Captain Nir Poraz was killed in an attempt to rescue Nahshon Wachsman from the hands of his abductors.

We face the terror of extremist Islam the enemy of peace, the enemy of the State of Israel, and the enemy of the Jews which threatens the peace of our country. It also threatens the peace of your country, Mr. President, and it threatens the regimes of moderate Arab rulers and the peace of the world. Iran is leading this terrorism, and we respect your policy of dual containment vis-a-vis Iran and Iraq. From this podium, Mr. President I call upon you, the American Congress and the American people to lead the struggle against this murderous terrorism which seeks to murder both Israelis and peace. This terrorism knows no borders and is liable to cross seas and oceans in order to sow death.

On the journey to peace with the Palestinians and the Jordanians, with the Syrians and the Lebanese, we know that you and your great nation are our partners. You understand our concerns, sense our distress, and support us in our difficult hours, in times of crisis and in our daily lives, and not just at festive ceremonies. Mr. President, we will decide on our own fate in this country, but we trust that you and your nation will stand with us as we encounter hardships, and the many land mines that still lie on our path. The fuel which feeds the locomotive of peace and the people of Israel, Mr. President, is hope as is the name of your American birthplace. We also hang our hopes on you, President Clinton, and we know that you will not disappoint us.

We have great dreams and great hopes. We do not want to live by our swords for eternity. We are committed to peace, but we are also prepared to stand against all enemies.

Mr. President,

You already know and it is important for us to stress this again that our path to peace is the path of compromise. We know that we will not get everything we want, and we must elucidate to our other partners in the peace negotiations that they will not receive everything they want either. As a democratic state, there are differences among us as to the correct policy for compromise.

Mr. President,

Welcome to our home in Jerusalem, the focus of our yearning and the embodiment of our dreams for thousands of years. The overwhelming majority of people in Israel consider Jerusalem to be the capital of the State of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty. Jerusalem is not a subject for negotiation. Jerusalem is not subject to bargaining. Loyal to our heritage and our values, we will always enable free access and freedom of religious worship to people of all religions but Jerusalem has always been, and will always be, the capital of the State of Israel under Israeli sovereignty. The beating heart of the Jewish people.

From Jerusalem, the City of Peace and the center of the world, please accept our blessings, Mr. President. As it is written in the Book of Books: "The Lord shall bless you from Zion, and you shall see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life. And you shall see your children’s children, and peace be upon Israel."

Peace be with you Mr. President, and farewell.