[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[November 30, 1998]
[Pages 2093-2094]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at a Conference To Support Middle East Peace and Development
November 30, 1998

    Thank you very much, Secretary Albright, and thank you for your work 
for peace in the Middle East. Chairman Arafat, welcome back to the 
United States. We're delighted to see you. I think it's fair to say that 
both of us have had more sleep than we had had the last time we met at 
the Wye Plantation, and I'm delighted to have a chance to meet with 
Chairman Arafat this morning.
    I thank all the representatives who are here from Israel, the other 
countries of the Middle East--of course, the Norwegian delegation, the 
European Union, our friends from Asia, and Mr. Wolfensohn from the World 
Bank, and others.
    Let me first of all say I had a good meeting with Chairman Arafat 
this morning. We reviewed both the progress made by both sides since the 
Wye memorandum was signed and the essential next steps on the road to 
peace, including the task of this conference, stimulating Palestinian 
economic growth. Chairman Arafat reaffirmed his pledge to uphold his 
side of the agreement and to work with Israeli authorities to promote 
Israel's security. I promised the continuing support of the United 
States as we move ahead in the next phase of the peace process. That 
phase begins today with this conference.
    Today our purpose is to send a clear signal that this peace is more 
than a piece of paper, that the promise imagined at Oslo can become a 
concrete reality--a true peace, a growing peace, good for Palestinians, 
good for Israelis, good for the region and the world. There are roughly 
50 international states and organizations represented here this morning. 
Most of you have traveled a great distance. I thank you for your 
persistence and for your generosity. We must convince those who have 
invested so much in this process that it was a sound investment.
    We must look at Gaza and the West Bank in a new light, not as 
battlegrounds but as energetic places at the crossroads of the Middle 
East, endowed with well-educated populations, strongly supported by the 
Palestinian community around the world, ripe for further development 
once investors see that the peace agreement truly is taking hold.
    For too long, too many young people have turned to terrorism and old 
hatreds, partly because they had nothing better to do. We must give them 
a different future to believe in. Every step toward opportunity is a 
step away from violence. Palestinians have a right to the same things 
all people aspire to: to be part of a normal, even happy, society where 
children receive a decent education, where there are jobs to go around 
and decent health care, where people's memories are reconciled with 
their hopes for the future and there is no fear.
    Despite our best efforts since 1993, an honest assessment would lead 
us to the conclusion that we have not realized all our intentions. There 
has been too little tangible improvement in the lives of the Palestinian 
people. Per capita income is down. Unemployment is too high. Living 
conditions are extremely difficult.
    At the outset of the next phase of the peace process, we must 
candidly acknowledge that we have to change these circumstances. No 
peace stands a chance of lasting if it does not deliver real results to 
ordinary people. Our challenge today, therefore, is to do more to 
deliver these results and to do it sooner rather than later.
    I would like to make just a few more points before I let you move on 
to the business at hand. First, peace is built on compromise, and with 
any compromise, it is important to address the genuine needs of both 
parties. Both sides have made sacrifices to get where we are, including 
at the recent Wye summit. Both have taken steps since then to keep the 
process moving forward. There have been bumps in the road, to be sure, 
but the agreement is on track, and we must keep it on track. By our 

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and our actions, we must keep lending our support, anticipating problems 
before they arise, encouraging the parties to uphold their commitments, 
building confidence in both the Palestinian and Israeli people through 
sustained external support. These will be my goals when I visit the 
region in 2 weeks.
    Second, we must persuade private organizations and individuals to 
join governments in deepening investments in the region. While public 
assistance can jump-start development, ultimately the private sector 
holds the key. There must be greater investment of private resources in 
Gaza and the West Bank. Each vote of confidence makes the infrastructure 
a little stronger. Each investment makes previous investments more 
likely to succeed. It is good economic policy, and it's the right thing 
to do.
    Third, I am convinced for this peace to be real and lasting, it must 
be regional. Trade and investment must flourish throughout the Middle 
East, between the Arab world and Palestinians and also between the Arab 
world and Israelis. There can be no road different from this that leads 
to a just and lasting peace.
    Many nations here have contributed significant resources already, 
including Norway, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the nations of the EU, and 
others. We saw a concrete result last week with the opening of the new 
airport in Gaza, built with international assistance, a powerful symbol 
of the Palestinian people's connection to the rest of the world. 
Institutions like the World Bank are helping, too, ensuring that donor 
pledges are matched with broad development strategies.
    The United States has been proud to support these efforts and will 
continue to do so. The Middle East is profoundly important to our 
country, for all our citizens who love peace, stability, and the 
kindness of neighbor to neighbor. Virtues can be found in every faith 
that trace their roots to the Holy Land.
    Today I want to announce that I intend to work closely with our 
Congress on developing a package to provide an additional $400 million 
to assist the Palestinian people, funds to help create jobs, improve 
basic education, enhance access to water, support the rule of law. This 
amount is in addition to the regular annual contribution provided by the 
United States, which will reach $100 million next year.
    A great deal remains to be done, but I urge you to remember how much 
can be accomplished in just a year. At the beginning of 1998, Northern 
Ireland was dominated by its divisions, how they were drawn, and who was 
on what side. Today, the most important dividing line is whether one 
believes in the past or the future. Through courageous decision and a 
steady tide of investment, the people there are seeing peace grow from 
wish to fulfillment. Prosperity there, too, is the key to making it 
    A breakthrough occurred at the Wye summit because the parties 
decided to look forward, not backward, to focus on the need for security 
and on tangible economic benefits like the Gaza airport, the future 
seaport, the safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank, the Gaza 
industrial estate, which may provide employment for up to 20,000 
Palestinians. All these will enable the predictable movement of people 
and goods, crucial to building a healthy investment climate. Every 
economy needs a chance to breathe. These steps will provide good 
breathing room.
    All of you here today know how important your work is. Too many 
lives have already been lost in the Middle East, from prime ministers to 
simple passers-by who became random victims of the burning hatred. Today 
you help again to change this dynamic. Today you know we have the best 
chance for peace there in our lifetimes.
    By building prosperity in Gaza and in the West Bank, by promoting 
regional economic cooperation, by giving young Palestinians a chance to 
channel their dreams into positive opportunities, you lay the groundwork 
for a peace that will last not for a year or a lifetime but for 
generations to come. We are honored to have you in the United States, 
and we wish you well in this important endeavor.
    Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 10:48 a.m. in the Loy Henderson Conference 
Room at the State Department. In his remarks, he referred to Chairman 
Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Authority.