93/03/23 Address to American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference (Washington, DC)  Return to: Index of 1993 Secretary of State's Speeches/Testimonies || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

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U.S. Department of State
93/03/23 Address to AIPAC
Office of the Spokesman

Address by
Secretary of State Warren Christopher
before the 
American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference

Washington, DC
March 23, 1993

US Committed to Israel's Security and a Real Peace

It's a great pleasure for me to be here today with so many friends and 
to have this opportunity to address this policy conference.  I 
understand that there are at this conference--and I've seen a number of 
them in the room as I came in--over 1,200 college students from more 
than 200 colleges.

I know well that this group has added tremendous energy to an already 
very energetic organization.  As [AIPAC President] Steve [Grossman] has 
said, I've been in meetings this morning with [Russian] Foreign Minister 
Kozyrev and will continue this afternoon, but I wanted to break away for 
a brief time to keep my commitment to say a few words to this 
organization.  And next time I come, I hope I'll be able to stay longer 
than I can today.

You all know that President Clinton sent me, as my first trip outside 
the United States, to the Middle East to reinvigorate the peace process.  
In doing so, the President demonstrated that pursuing peace in the 
region is a top priority and will continue to be for his presidency.

During the trip, I spent 3 nights and 2 days in Israel--the longest I 
spent in any place in the Middle East--and while I was there, I did as 
much as I could to absorb some of the history and culture of that great 
country.  This included time at the Yad Vashem [Holocaust memorial], 
which was certainly one of the most moving experiences that I've ever 
had.  The press reported that when I came out I was choked up and 
solemn, and I guess I have to plead guilty.  It was quite an experience; 
I'm sure that most in the room have had it.  As with all of us, I think 
it was the children who got to me the most.

My travels in Israel also gave me a new appreciation of Israel's 
security situation.  Indeed, my entire experience there dramatically 
underscored the need to make the strongest effort that we can to achieve 
peace and security for Israel.

Although I had met him before, during this trip I had my first real 
opportunity to get to know [Israeli] Prime Minister Rabin well and to 
have extensive personal discussions with him--three separate sessions.  
From my perspective--and I hope from his, too--we established a good, 
personal, working relationship.  I'm absolutely resolved to do my part 
to establish with him a relationship of trust and confidence and, 
through that, to establish a relationship with Israel of trust and 
confidence, for I believe it will be essential and valuable in promoting 
the cause of peace.

I know how deeply the people in this room care about the state of Israel 
and the future of US-Israeli relationships.  I'd like to talk to you for 
just a few minutes today about the nature of that relationship.

Israel--I don't have to tell you--is a very special place, and the 
unique relationship between our two countries has proven strong and 
durable over the years.  President Clinton has committed himself to 
making this partnership even more strong and even deeper.  Given the 
challenges we face in the years ahead, particularly as we search for 
peace in the region, this close partnership will be absolutely 
essential.

Three particular themes come to mind in relationship to this 
relationship between Israel and the United States:

--  First, our shared ideals and values;

--  Second, America's commitment to Israel's security; and

--  Third, the mutual commitment that we have to the Arab-Israeli peace 
process.

I want to talk today a little bit about each of these three and then 
conclude with some brief comments on the peace negotiations.

Shared Ideals and ValuesWith respect to shared values, of course, many 
factors account for the depth of the relationship between the United 
States and Israel.  They include Israel's role as a strategic ally, the 
US commitment to the idea of Jewish statehood in the wake of the Nazi 
genocide, and the importance of Israel to the American Jewish community.

Beyond these principal factors are fundamental values that we share, and 
they are exceedingly important.

--  Israel is a vibrant democracy with a dynamic political life, not 
unlike ours;

--  Israel is a pluralistic society, much like our own, with remarkable 
diversity even for a small country; and

--  Israel is a society based upon religious, ethical, and moral values.

These shared values have provided an absolutely essential solid 
sustenance for the relationship between the United States and Israel.  
Shared values are exceedingly important.  Certainly shared interests 
are, but shared values give our relationship a special character that 
has linked us over the years, that bring our societies and peoples close 
together.

Commitment to Israel's Security

With respect to our commitment to Israel's security, no one who has ever 
visited Israel can fail to appreciate how much the need for security 
shapes Israel's view of the world.  No one can begin to appreciate the 
concerns of Israel without studying the shadow that history has cast 
over it.  My visit impressed upon me anew the narrow margin on which 
security in Israel rests.

Since independence, the state of Israel has been confronted with 
terrorism; [with] the Scud missiles; with war; and, now, with an even 
deadlier threat of mass destruction and weapons of mass destruction.  No 
one in the area should have to live this way in the future.  It is 
precisely for these reasons that the United States is unshakeably 
committed to Israel's security.

The discussions last week between President Clinton and Prime Minister 
Rabin accentuated our revitalized strategic partnership.  Indeed, we 
agreed on a number of tangible ways of demonstrating and accelerating 
that partnership.

--  We renewed our umbrella agreement on strategic cooperation under 
which our officials meet frequently to coordinate our policies.--  We 
agreed to preserve in meaningful ways Israel's qualitative edge--and as 
the weapons of destruction grow more technical and more high-tech, 
indeed I think we have a new challenge to preserve the qualitative edge 
that we're committed to.--  We also established a US-Israel science and 
technology commission to be headed by Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown on 
our side, a development that was warmly received by Prime Minister 
Rabin.

Commitment to Peace Process

And now a few words with respect to the peace process.  It is clear that 
real security will ultimately depend upon real peace between Israel and 
its Arab neighbors and the Palestinians.  Direct negotiations between 
Israel and its neighbors are the only pathway to real peace.  The 
process launched at Madrid--based upon UN Security Council Resolutions 
242 and 338 and the search for a comprehensive peace--offers a real 
opportunity for the parties to negotiate a meaningful peace.  It is a 
rare opportunity that must not be wasted.

President Clinton sent me to the region last month to focus the parties-
-indeed, I think I should say "to refocus" them--on the substance of the 
negotiation.  My trip had three other purposes that are closely related:

First, to encourage the Lebanese Government to continue the path toward 
political and economic reform, and I was delighted to be able to go into 
Beirut to symbolize the fact that progress has been made on that front;

Second, to make clear to friend and foe alike that the United States 
expects Iraq to fully comply with every single relevant UN Security 
Council resolution; and

Third, to explain our commitment to human rights and economic freedom, 
including ending the Arab boycott of Israel and including ending the 
discrimination against American companies.

On the peace process, I made clear to everyone that President Clinton 
and I are not interested in negotiations that are simply a ritual 
without a purpose.  Enough time and effort has gone into the modalities 
of the peace process. Now it is time to turn to serious negotiations and 
to agreements leading up to real peace.

While all parties are aware of the challenge ahead, I found everywhere--
in Israel, in the key Arab states, and among the Palestinians--a real 
desire to see the process succeed.  I must tell you that every Arab 
leader I met with made it very clear that they're serious about pursuing 
peace.  What I heard in all the capitals convinced me that this is a 
truly historic opportunity to achieve peace--perhaps a one-time 
opportunity.

As a result of my trip out there, I decided and met with the Russians, 
and together we decided that we should invite all parties to return for 
negotiations starting here in Washington on April 20 [1993].

As you know, this past week President Clinton and I had long 
conversations with Prime Minister Rabin about the negotiations and about 
ways to make them succeed.  There is no doubt in my mind at all that 
Prime Minister Rabin is serious about peace, that he wants to move ahead 
as quickly as possible, and that he is prepared to make the hard choices 
that are needed to see this process through.

We'll be consulting very closely with him--and, indeed, we'll be 
consulting closely with all the parties--about how to make the next 
round of negotiations truly meaningful, truly productive.

I'm firmly persuaded that progress is within the grasp of the parties.  
The road ahead certainly won't be an easy one.  All the parties will 
face difficult choices and risks.  I want you to know that the United 
States is committed as a full partner to help these negotiations 
succeed.  This does not mean that the United States plans to negotiate 
for the parties or to try to interpose itself between them.  Clearly, 
direct negotiations, particularly on the issues that involve physical 
survival and political survival, remain the responsibility of the 
parties.  The President and I have made it very clear, however, that we 
will do our part--as an intermediary, as an honest broker--provided that 
the other parties do theirs.

When the Arabs, the Israelis, and the Palestinians put forward their 
views--seriously and realistically--we will be there to probe positions, 
to clarify responses, to help define common ground, [and] to offer what 
may be bridging ideas.  This is the meaning of "full partnership," and 
it reflects our determination to work with all the parties to facilitate 
negotiations that will take into account the needs and concerns of 
Israel, of the Arabs, and of the Palestinians.  Only in this way can we 
have a meaningful peace.

If the political will and the commitment are there--and I believe they 
are--I think we can play a facilitating role in helping to secure that 
peace, a peace that will be good for Israel, good for the Arabs, good 
for the Palestinians, and good for all of mankind.  I know that I can 
count on the support of this organization, as American leaders always 
have, in working toward this necessary and important goal.

Conclusion

As I conclude today, let me say that I very much hope that the next time 
I come back I can spend longer with you and respond to the questions 
that I know you have from the floor.  But this is the size of the window 
that I could open today, and I wanted to come, at least, and make my 
presence known and to tell you that I value this organization.  You and 
other leaders will have access to me, as much as I can possibly give, 
through[out] my tenure as Secretary of State, and thank you again. (###)