[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1993, Book I)]
[March 15, 1993]
[Pages 303-308]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's News Conference With Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of 
March 15, 1993

    The President. Good afternoon. It's a great pleasure for me to 
welcome Prime Minister Rabin back to Washington. Since we first met here 
last August, much has changed. But one thing I can say definitely will 
never change is the unique bond that unites the United States and 
Israel. It is a bond that goes back to the founding of the state of 
Israel and beyond, based on shared values and shared ideals.
    Israel's democracy is the bedrock on which our relationship stands. 
It's a shining example for people around the world who are on the 
frontline of the struggle for democracy in their own lands. Our 
relationship is also based on our common interest in a more stable and 
peaceful Middle East, a Middle East that will

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finally accord Israel the recognition and acceptance that its people 
have yearned for so long and have been too long denied, a Middle East 
that will know greater democracy for all its peoples.
    I believe strongly in the benefit to American interests from 
strengthened relationships with Israel. Our talks today have been 
conducted in that context. We have begun a dialog intended to raise our 
relationship to a new level of strategic partnership, partners in the 
pursuit of peace, partners in the pursuit of security.
    We focused today on our common objective of turning 1993 into a year 
of peacemaking in the Middle East. Prime Minister Rabin has made clear 
to me today that pursuing peace with security is his highest mission. I 
have pledged that my administration will be active in helping the 
parties to achieve that end. At the same time, Prime Minister Rabin and 
I agree that our common objective should be real, lasting, just, and 
comprehensive peace, based on Resolutions 242 and 338. It must involve 
full normalization, diplomatic relations, open borders, commerce, 
tourism, the human bonds that are both the fruits and the best guarantee 
of peace. And Israel's security must be assured. The Israeli people 
cannot be expected to make peace unless they feel secure, and they 
cannot be expected to feel secure unless they come to know real peace.
    Those like Prime Minister Rabin who genuinely seek peace in the 
Middle East will find in me and my administration a full partner. But 
those who seek to subvert the peace process will find zero tolerance 
here for their deplorable acts of violence and terrorism.
    Prime Minister Rabin has told me that he is prepared to take risks 
for peace. He has told his own people the same thing. I have told him 
that our role is to help to minimize those risks. We will do that by 
further reinforcing our commitment to maintaining Israel's qualitative 
military edge.
    Another way we can strengthen Israel and the United States is to 
combine the skills of its people with those of our own. I am pleased to 
announce today the establishment of a U.S.-Israel science and technology 
commission, chaired on the American side by our Secretary of Commerce, 
Ron Brown. The commission will enhance cooperation to create technology-
based jobs for the 21st century in both Israel and the United States. 
Our economies will also benefit from a lifting of the Arab boycott. And 
I hope that this boycott can end soon.
    Prime Minister Rabin, this year will be a year of enhanced relations 
between our countries. It should also be a year of peace in the Middle 
East, as you have declared. We have an historic responsibility and an 
historic opportunity. We stand here together today resolved not to let 
that opportunity pass.
    Prime Minister Rabin. President Clinton, in just a few days I will 
return to Israel, but I know, and will tell everyone in my country, 
Israel has a friend in the White House. Our home is many miles away, but 
Mr. President, we feel very close. We thank you for the hours we spent 
with you and your team, for the atmosphere of friendship and the 
openness and the depth of our discussions. The leadership which you have 
displayed in coping with America's domestic problems is inspiring and 
stands out like a beacon in the night.
    Today we were happy to learn that at the same time you are also 
willing to invest efforts in promoting peace and stability in the Middle 
East. In this effort, Mr. President, you will find us to be full 
partners. You are aware that no one wants peace more than us and that 
there is no country more resolved to defend itself when necessary. We 
are veterans of many wars. And today we say, no more blood and tears. We 
now wish to experience lasting and meaningful peace.
    In our talks today, I presented to you Israel's approach to the 
peacemaking. And we are willing to take upon ourselves risks for peace. 
But we are determined to protect our security.
    Peace has many enemies. Terror is used by the enemies of peace in 
our effort to undermine it. And we will combat it while we continue to 
seek a solution that will lead to peace.
    Since the formation of my government, we have invested efforts in 
trying to advance towards peace in the framework of the Madrid formula. 
We introduced new ideas in the negotiation tracks with Syria, Lebanon, 
Jordan, and the Palestinians. Some progress has been made, but more is 
needed in order to come to agreement. We are ready for compromise, but 
compromises cannot be one-sided. We call on our partners, the Arab 
States, the Palestinians from the territories, to seize the moment, to 
return to the negotiating table so that we can use this historic 
opportunity. We call upon them to respond openly and willingly to our 
positions. Our

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children and grandchildren in Jerusalem and the Arab children and 
grandchildren in Damascus, Beirut, Amman, and elsewhere in the Arab 
world will not forgive us if we all fail to act now.
    We have heard today with satisfaction, Mr. President, your concept 
of the role of the full partner as an intermediary. We shall continue 
our direct talks with our Arab neighbors. But in order to expedite the 
dialog between the parties, we welcome your good offices and hope to 
rely on your role as facilitator.
    President Clinton, we are deeply indebted to you and to your 
predecessors who helped us in hours of need. We do appreciate and 
greatly value the decision to maintain the current level of aid to 
Israel. This decision will help us to integrate new immigrants into our 
society and to bear the heavy burden of our security.
    You know, President, that we will not be able to win the battle for 
peace without a qualitative edge. Therefore, I wish to thank you and 
your colleagues on behalf of the Israeli soldiers and their parents and 
the citizens of Israel for your decision to help to maintain that edge. 
Moreover, such a qualitative edge enables the Israeli defense forces to 
contribute to the overall effort to maintain stability in our stormy 
region. The decision made today to raise the level of strategic dialog 
between our two countries will open new doors of opportunity. The fact 
that the next months we will renew the memorandum of agreement between 
us for 5 more years, and that we do it as a matter of course, is a proof 
of the kind of mutually beneficial relationships that we enjoy. The 
formation of new high-level forum for strategic dialog will further 
upgrade this relationship.
    We will also have a turn in the near future with much urgency to 
address the struggle against various kinds of fanaticism which give 
birth to murderous terror, the kind that recently landed even on these 
shores. We must institutionalize our dialog and include all free 
countries in consultations on the ways to curb the threatening 
    We attach much importance to the decision made today to create the 
high-level joint commission for the development of projects of science 
and technology. The investment in research and industrial applications 
in Israel and in America will explore new frontiers of knowledge. And 
they are a telling example of how our two countries can mutually benefit 
from this cooperation.
    President Clinton, thank you for your invitation and reception, for 
the warmth on a wintry day, and for your good will. I came from 
Jerusalem, the city of the prophets. I return to Jerusalem, the city 
that witnessed so many wars and wants so dearly peace because she knows 
that in war there are no winners and in peace no losers.
    Thank you very much.

Palestinian Deportees

    Q. President Clinton--[inaudible]--demands for the immediate 
repatriation of the Palestinian deportees, and where did you leave that 
    The President. No, we did not discuss that. As far as I'm concerned, 
the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister reached an agreement on 
that. And I think that is the framework within which we are proceeding.

Middle East Peace Talks

    Q. Mr. President----
    The President. Yes. Go ahead.
    Q. Mr. President, the last peace agreement between an Arab nation 
and Israel was, as you know, the Egyptian Peace Agreement. In that case, 
the President kept a very personal part as an intermediary. To what 
extent are you willing to become personally involved? And Mr. Prime 
Minister, to what extent are you willing to see the President become 
personally involved in this peace negotiation?
    Prime Minister Rabin. Well, as you can expect, I cannot answer in 
the name of the President of the United States. But I believe, as it has 
happened whenever agreements were reached between the Arab countries and 
Israel from '74 to '79, and even the creation of the Madrid peace 
conference, could not be achieved without the United States being 
involved in encouraging the parties to do so. I believe that there was, 
there is a need of the United States' partnership to the peacemaking 
process. At what level, at what time, it's not up to me to answer.
    The President. The answer to your question is that I would be 
prepared to commit the resources, the effort and the attention of this 
administration, of my Secretary of State, and my personal efforts to 
achieve lasting agreements.
    We have, on the table, the potential of very significant bilateral 
agreements and the potential of some regional agreements that I think 
ought to be pursued. I feel very strongly about it,

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and I think the opportunities for progress are there. I don't want to 
minimize the difficulties, the obstacles, the years of frustration, but 
I think the fact that this Prime Minister, who became a hero as a 
warrior, is doing what he can and risking significantly to promote 
peace, is a good beginning. And I think there are other good indications 
in the region. And I'm prepared to personally do what I can to 
facilitate that.
    Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International].

West Bank and Gaza Strip

    Q. Do you support the transitional--[inaudible]--policy of self-
determination for the people on the West Bank and Gaza who have been 
living for years under military occupation? Mr. Prime Minister, do you 
think that during your regime there will be any measure of self-rule for 
the Palestinians while you are a leader?
    Prime Minister Rabin. I don't want to give you a lengthy answer, but 
allow me to say, in 1967 we did not want war. It's more than that. Even 
when we found ourselves in a clash with the Egyptians, we offered to the 
Jordanians, stay out of the war and we'll keep your line with us without 
any change.
    If you'll follow the history, we were always for compromise. U.N. 
decision, partition of Palestine to two states: We accepted; they 
rejected. They went to war to destroy us. It's bad luck to the Arabs. 
Whenever they go to war, they lose. We offer them this time, to the 
Palestinians in the territories, what no one offered them when the Arab 
countries were in occupation, Jordan of the West Bank, Egypt of the Gaza 
Strip, self-rule--run your own life by yourself--as an interim agreement 
for a transition period of not more than 5 years. Not later than the 
third year, we are ready to enter negotiations with them about a 
permanent solution based on Resolution 242 and 338.
    What else can we do? By violence and terror no one will make us run. 
The solution should be around the negotiation table, by talks, not by 
    The President. The answer is the United States position has not 
changed. As I said in my statement, we support a solution based on the 
governing United Nations resolutions. But the important thing is that 
everything we say or do today sends a clear message, particularly to the 
other parties in the Middle East, that the time has come to negotiate 
peace. And the United States is prepared to be involved all the way 
through the process.
    Wolf [Wolf Blitzer, Cable News Network].


    Q. [Inaudible]--both of you have addressed the question of bilateral 
arrangements between Israel and Syria. It seems that the Prime Minister 
in recent statements has backed away from some earlier statements that 
Israel would never go down from the Golan Heights. Is there a change? 
Would Israel be prepared to accept a complete withdrawal from the Golan 
Heights in exchange for complete peace with Syria, along the lines of 
the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement? And would the United States 
welcome that kind of separate Israeli-Syrian agreement even in advance 
of a Palestinian agreement?
    Prime Minister Rabin. Well, first, we are serious in our 
negotiations with every one of the Arab partners for the peace 
negotiations. We are ready to negotiate and reach agreement with every 
one of the partners that sit around the negotiation table with us.
    Second, peace has to be negotiated not between me, as the Prime 
Minister of Israel, and you. After all, you don't represent Syria. We 
made it clear that we accept the principle of withdrawal of the armed 
forces of Israel on the Golan Heights, to secure the recognized 
boundaries, but we'll not enter negotiations on the dimension of the 
withdrawal without knowing what kind of peace Syria offers us. Is it a 
fully fledged peace, open boundaries for movement of people and goods, 
diplomatic relations including embassies, normalization of relations? 
Will they let that peace treaty stand on its own two feet, will not be 
influenced by what happens or doesn't happen in the negotiations with 
the other Arab partners?
    Before we know that, why would I have to say how much we will 
withdraw once it is an issue to be agreed on between Syria and 
ourselves, with the assistance of the United States?
    The President. The answer to your question, from my point of view, 
is that the United States believes that the full peace process should 
resume. We hope very much that the Palestinians will come to the table. 
We would like to see all the bilaterals go forward. But if the parties 
could reach an agreement consistent with security interests and the 
governing United Nations resolutions that was their genuine agreement,

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would I welcome that and be prepared to support it? Yes, I would.

The Peace Process

    Q. Mr. President, the Arabs think that you favor Israel against 
them. What are you doing to balance this situation? We know that 
Secretary Christopher has gone there, but what specifically has been 
offered to them, and how would you see a confederation of Jordan with 
the Palestinians? And also I would like to ask the response to that from 
Prime Minister Rabin.
    The President. Secretary Christopher went to the Middle East, and I 
can assure you, one of the things that he did was to say the same thing 
to everybody in every capital that he visited, to say that the United 
States wanted to be a partner in this process, but that we recognize we 
had to be a mediator, and that, in the end, the only thing that would 
make peace possible was the assurance of security that would come to the 
parties afterward.
    I believe that the other nations involved know that the United 
States has had an historic relationship of friendship with Israel, but 
also know that we can be counted upon to keep our word and to do what we 
can to support the security of all the parties if an agreement can be 
    Do you want to answer that?
    Prime Minister Rabin. I can speak only as an Israeli, and in the 
name of Israel. I believe that the government that I serve as its Prime 
Minister is the first government that accepted the principle or the 
Resolutions 242 and 338 as applicable to the achievement of peace. No 
government in the past did so, which shows that we understand that in 
peace, compromises have to be made by both sides.

Security Issues

    Q. Mr. President, Prime Minister Rabin today spoke about raising the 
level of strategic dialog; you spoke about strategic dialog. I was 
wondering if you could elaborate what that means more, and does this 
mean greater coordination between the two countries in terms of what 
approaches to take to peace, and then bringing that to the table? Are we 
talking about a whole new approach here?
    The President. No, we're not talking about a whole new approach. Our 
two governments have some very gifted people who work on a continuous 
basis on security issues between us and facing the region. Looking ahead 
10 years down the road, we know that we have to pay greater attention to 
missile defenses; we know that we have to pay greater attention to the 
possibility of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; we know 
that in order for any agreement in the Middle East to have lasting 
impact, there will be significant, and must be, significant security 
implications flowing out of any kind of arrangements which might be 
made. And we just want to make sure that beginning now we give those 
matters the most careful attention at the appropriate level.
    This will not supplant anything that is now being done. We're very 
well satisfied with the work being done by our people now. But these 
three things, it seems to us, will shape a lot of our deliberations for 
a decade to come.


    Q. Mr. President, can you clarify your administration's views on the 
situation in Russia today? In particular, do you believe that the 
Russian Parliament is a democratically elected institution? And if it is 
not a democratically elected institution, why would you object to its 
dissolution by Mr. Yeltsin--the rewriting of a new Russian 
Constitution--would that not be helpful?
    The President. Mr. Friedman [Tom Friedman, New York Times], those 
are great questions. But I think any answer I'd give to them might only 
complicate the decisions I might have to make in the days ahead.
    Q. It would be a great story. [Laughter]
    The President. It will be a wonderful story, and I must say those 
are questions I have, we have all posed to ourselves. But let me say 
this: I hope that everybody in America, I hope everybody in Israel, is 
pulling for the triumph of freedom and market reform in Russia. 
Democracy is an uncertain process. The Prime Minister and I have been in 
and out of office. We know that. And I don't pretend to know everything 
that's going to happen in Russia in the days and weeks ahead, and I 
don't want to say anything now which might constrict my field of 
decision in ways that would not be in the interest of the United States 
or of freedom and market reform in Russia.
    So I wish I could say more, but I can't. All I can tell you is I'm 
working like crazy to get ready for that meeting with President Yeltsin. 
I'm going to do what I can and mobilize what forces I can, public and 
private, in the United

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States to support the march of progress in Russia. And I'm going to hope 
and pray that all those who want the same thing will be in there pushing 
with us.
    Last question.

North Korea

    Q. Can you give us any more insight into what the situation is in 
North Korea, whether you believe they do have nuclear capability? If so, 
where did they get it from, and what leverage the United States might 
have in addressing this issue?
    The President. I cannot answer your exact question. I can tell you 
that I, personally, and speaking for the Government, the United States 
is very concerned and very disappointed that North Korea has at least 
for the time being chosen to eject the IAEA inspectors and to withdraw 
from the international regime of which they are part.
    The board of directors of the IAEA is meeting on Wednesday. They 
will make a statement at that time, and I will make a response. There 
are 3 months still to go, and as you know, any country that wants to 
withdraw is bound for 3 months. I hope that North Korea will reconsider 
its decision. I think there is a genuine impulse among the peoples of 
North Korea and South Korea, among the peoples to see a reduction in 
tensions and an increase in commerce and communication and contact. And 
I'm very disturbed by this turn of events. But I'm hoping that it will 
not be a permanent thing. There are several weeks ahead when North Korea 
might reverse its decision. I hope they will do so, because we simply 
cannot back up on the determination to have the IAEA inspections proceed 
    The answers to your questions could only be found in complete and 
thorough and ongoing investigations by the IAEA, either in North Korea 
or any other country where these questions are asked. And I'm hoping 
very, very much that they will reconsider their decision and permit the 
inspectors to come again.
    Thank you very much.

Note: The President's sixth news conference began at 2:02 p.m. in the 
East Room at the White House.