[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1993, Book II)]
[October 1, 1993]
[Pages 1643-1645]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters on the Middle East Peace Process
October 1, 1993

    The President. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have a brief 
statement and then I want to give the Crown Prince and the Foreign 
Minister an opportunity to make a few remarks.
    I have just had the privilege of hosting what to date has been an 
unprecedented meeting in the Oval Office between His Royal Highness 
Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of 
Israel. This meeting is another important step on the road toward a 
comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
    With me in the Oval Office were Shimon Peres, a principal architect 
of the pathbreaking Israel-PLO agreement, and Crown Prince Hassan, a 
leader who has literally devoted his life to the promotion of peace and 
a better future for his entire region. I am grateful to both of them for 
accepting my invitation to further the cause of peace.
    On September 13th we bore witness to an event that should serve as a 
turning point in the history of the Middle East. Then I spoke of my 
commitment to help build a new future for the Middle East and all its 
people. Today we have taken two additional steps to turn that hope into 
    This morning at the State Department, in an extraordinary 
demonstration of international support for peace, 43 nations from every 
region of the world helped to usher in this new era by providing their 
political and financial backing to those who would make peace in the 
Middle East. They pledged more than $600 million in immediate needs of 
the Palestinians and over $2 billion over the next 5 years to help 
establish Palestinian self-government.
    And now this meeting has just taken place in the Oval Office, coming 
as it does some 2 weeks after Jordan and Israel signed their agreement 
on a common agenda to guide their negotiations. This symbolizes a new 
relationship between Jordan and Israel, marked by dialog and acceptance 
rather than confrontation and rejection.
    The special relationship between the United States and Israel is 
central to the pursuit of peace, and I want to emphasize the great 
importance the United States attaches to Jordan's critical role in 
achieving lasting peace in the region.
    In our meeting, both the Crown Prince and the Foreign Minister spoke 
of their hopes for the future of peace and prosperity for Israelis, 
Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, and Jordanians

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all alike, indeed, for the entire region. To help to work toward this 
goal they discussed ways to give more energy and force to their 
bilateral negotiations to resolve all outstanding issues.
    They also agreed today that Israel and Jordan should establish a 
joint economic committee, much like the one agreed to in the Israel-PLO 
agreement of 2\1/2\ weeks ago. And we all agreed that Israel, Jordan, 
and the United States should establish a working group to be convened by 
the United States with two representatives from each country so that 
Israel and Jordan can agree, together with this Nation acting as 
facilitator, on the next steps in economic development in their two 
nations. They share so much in common, as they both pointed out. Now 
they want a common economic agenda.
    They also agreed to work through this working group on common steps 
to reduce the certification in the area. We want to reduce the problems 
of the environment and especially the problems the desert presents as a 
part of the long-term economic growth of the Middle East, and especially 
of Israel and Jordan.
    And finally, they both agreed that we should all get to work as soon 
as possible. That's the kind of action and the kind of attitude that I 
hope we can keep alive, coming as it does on the heels of so many other 
encouraging signs in the Middle East.
    Finally, let me say that they spoke of their common commitment to 
work in close coordination with the Palestinians as this peace process 
goes forward. In this way, we can all act as partners with the 
Palestinians and work toward our common goals.
    Let me say personally that I enjoyed this meeting very much. I 
applaud the Crown Prince. I applaud the Foreign Minister for coming 
here, for being a part of it. We believe that together we can work 
toward a peace that benefits everyone. And we believe there are things 
we can be doing now to benefit the countries and the peoples 
economically in ways that strengthen their inner sense of security and 
commitment to this remarkable process.
    I'd like now to offer the microphone first to the Crown Prince and 
then to the Foreign Minister.

[At this point, Prince Hassan of Jordan and Foreign Minister Peres of 
Israel made brief statements.]

    The President. Let me say first of all, to reiterate one of the 
things that the Crown Prince has said, this working group that we have 
agreed to set up will clearly operate within the framework and the 
context of the peace process and not independent of it but will focus on 
the economic and the environmental issues I have mentioned.
    Second, I appreciate what the Foreign Minister said about the 
Secretary of State. In the privacy of our meeting, he said that today's 
speech by the Secretary of State was outrageous because it was the most 
expensive in memory. He raised more than a million dollars for every 
minute he talked today, which I appreciated.
    And finally, let me say, this is somewhat to my chagrin, but one of 
the many matters that the Crown Prince and the Foreign Minister agreed 
on in the meeting is that they would not take any questions today, but I 
could. So here I am.
    Q. Mr. President, what about the Arab boycott? Can you tell us your 
feelings about whether the continued Arab boycott is an obstacle to the 
kind of economic cooperation that you gentlemen are trying to forge here 
    The President. Well, I think, first of all, they have agreed to find 
common economic objectives which they can pursue and seek investment for 
from all around the world, and they've asked us to help them do that. 
And so we intend to. Obviously, the region can grow more rapidly when 
all its partners can trade with one another and invest in one another.
    I think the statement, though, of the countries in continuing their 
position was not altogether discouraging. Obviously, as you know, the 
United States wanted the boycott lifted now, but basically they were 
saying we have to finish the peace process. Well, we all agree with 
that. Israel agrees with that. No one disputes that. And so I don't want 
us to be deterred.
    This is a really historic day. We have this meeting and the 
agreement coming out of it. We have the remarkable donors conference 
today and the results coming out of this. We are moving this process 
very quickly, and I am confident that in the course of time we'll get 
the boycott lifted.
    Q. Mr. President, now that you've brought Israel and the PLO 
together here on the White House lawn, and Israel and Jordan today, what 
are the prospects of bringing Israel and Syria together here at the 
White House?
    The President. I thought you were going to

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ask me if I could get both parties together in the Congress on a health 
care plan.
    Well, I'm hopeful. We have to take these things as we can, but I'm 
quite hopeful. I will say again, I am committed to finishing the peace 
process. I have told President Asad that. I have made it clear to Prime 
Minister Hariri, and we met at the United Nations and discussed Lebanon. 
Nothing that Prime Minister Rabin or Foreign Minister Peres has said to 
me leads me to believe that they have a different position.
    But I will say again, the most important thing we can do at each 
step along the way is to build the support among the ordinary people of 
Israel, among the Palestinians, among the Jordanians for the agreements 
that have been made, for the processes that are underway, so that people 
all over the Middle East have a greater sense of confidence and security 
about what has been agreed to and what is being done. The Crown Prince 
made a very important point that I think needs to be reiterated.
    We are trying to make our statements brief and our actions and 
commitments long. And that is what we have to do. And so, I understand 
that this whole thing has to be finished. But to finish it, to get to 
the end, we have to absorb the full implications of the enormity of the 
things which have been done and implement them in a way that keeps the 
support for the process going. And I am committed to finishing it with 
all parties, more so than when we began.
    Q. Mr. President, how much of the money that was given today at the 
donors conference will or should go to Jordan? Or will all of this go 
exclusively to the Palestinians? And if so, what will Israel and Jordan 
be cooperating about?
    The President. Well, what we are going to do, this committee is 
going to come up with a whole different economic agenda for Israel and 
for Jordan and for how to deal with the overlapping Palestinian issues. 
And there are some overlapping ones which might lead to some different 
decisions down the road about what we do with commitments that have 
already been made. But I think that we need a whole different economic 
agenda there.
    I think, as you know, I'm extraordinarily excited about this group 
of American Jewish and Arab American business people we got together who 
want to see an enormous private sector commitment in the Middle East. 
They are particularly interested in what can be agreed upon between 
Israel and Jordan and whether they could play a role in that. So I 
wouldn't rule out anything.
    But the purpose of the donors conference today was to give life and 
meaning and reality to the agreement we saw between Israel and the PLO. 
There will have to be other investments, other commitments that will 
help to deal with the problems of Jordan, including the enormous problem 
Jordan has of accumulated debt. There needs to be some debt relief for 
Jordan, and the United States will support that. And there are a whole 
lot of other things that we need to be doing on that.
    Q. Do you think that this is leading to a confederation between 
Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinians? Is this the beginning? Is this the 
basis to something like that?
    The President. That's a question that I haven't answered and 
shouldn't answer. Anything regarding the political organization of the 
Middle East, that's a decision that will have to be made by the parties 
themselves. The United States will support the process and will support 
the decision of the people there.
    Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 3:29 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White