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U.S. Department of State
96/01/13 Remarks: Meeting in Gaza with Chairman Arafat
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release January 13, 1996
REMARKS BY CHAIRMAN GASSER ARAFAT
AND U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
AFTER THEIR MEETING IN GAZA
January 13, 1996
CHAIRMAN ARAFAT: We have to thank His Excellency for this visit,
especially in these very important circumstances which we are passing
one week before our elections. We have to thank His Excellency for his
efforts, including also the participation of a high delegation from
America to supervise and to arrange the elections of the Palestinian
Council. At the same time, we had an opportunity to discuss in detail
these elections and some of the problems which we are facing and asking
His Excellency to facilitate for us these problems with the Israelis
concerning Hebron and other places. At the same time, I have the
opportunity to thank His Excellency for what he is doing to push the
Peace Process, not only with the Palestinians, not only with the
Jordanians, not only with the Egyptians, but also with the Syrians and
the Lebanese, so that we can have a comprehensive, lasting, peaceful
solution in the whole area. At the same time, I have to thank President
Carter who will come to participate with us, heading the American team
for the elections.
Please convey to His Excellency President Clinton, [thanks] for his
permanent support, which we have found especially from your side during
the economic conference which took place in Paris recently. At the same
time, I had explained to His Excellency all the situation here in these
Palestinian territories, and the difficulties which we are facing from
the economical point of view, and also he promised that he will continue
supporting us according to what His Excellency, President Clinton had
started from the beginning, to push the donors by all means, to continue
implementing their promises.
Thank you, your Excellency.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The Chairman and I had
planned to get together last Tuesday in Paris at the Donors' Conference.
Unfortunately, the weather in Washington made that impossible. So, I
thank you, Mr. Chairman, for rearranging your schedule so we could meet
here this morning.
As you know, the Donors' Conference in Paris was very successful. The
Conference core list of projects of 550 million dollars was
oversubscribed by about 240 million dollars, and I think that's a
reflection of the international community's desire to support this
effort in Gaza and the West Bank. For its part, the United States well
on its way to meeting its pledge of 500 million dollars over a five-year
period. We have disbursed already over half of our pledge, in addition
to humanitarian assistance and motor vehicles that we've made available.
In Paris we allocated another 71 million dollars for particular
projects, water projects, educational projects, and other projects to
meet the needs of the Palestinians.
The Conference marked a new phase in the development of the Palestinian
economy, one that coincides with the new phase in the implementation of
the interim agreement. The Palestinian Authority has done a good job in
taking over responsibility for the major population centers in the West
Bank. I think we recognize the importance of continuing combating
violence and terrorism, and I was very pleased this morning to have the
Chairman once again emphasize his complete commitment to combating
terrorism in all of the territories of the West Bank and Gaza.
As we all know, as the Chairman just said, just one week from now there
will be a major milestone when the Palestinians go to the polls to elect
their governing council and their leader. We spent a good deal of time
this morning discussing the elections, certainly a historic opportunity
for the Palestinians to take the major step in building a democratic
society. I want to congratulate the Chairman and the people of the area
for their efforts in this regard. Of course, it is important that the
elections be free and fair and as the Chairman has mentioned, there will
be a number of groups observing the elections here. A United States
group headed by former President Carter and of course, our Consulate in
Jerusalem will be observing the elections as well. Elections will give
an opportunity to lead to the establishment of institutions of law,
institutions carrying out democratic principles including freedom of
expression and the rule of law, respect for human rights and free market
Mr. Chairman, I assure you that President Clinton and the United States
want to continue to work with you to achieve these important goals.
Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, does that commitment to combat terrorism
involve speaking out against terrorism?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Yes, I am sure it does, and it has. The
Chairman has been speaking out against terrorism and I think he has been
taking very important steps to work with the authorities in the region
to ensure that violence and terrorism shall be kept to an absolute
QUESTION (In Arabic): How do you evaluate your talks with Mr.
Christopher, and how do you see American assistance national authority?
CHAIRMAN ARAFAT (In Arabic): With no doubt, I thank Mr. Christopher for
this visit, especially at this time, a few days before elections, which
will take place for the first time on Palestinian ground, to elect our
legislative council and presidential elections. At the same time, I have
to thank his Excellency very much for his position supporting the
Palestinian Authority in many areas, including the support which
President Clinton has referred to since the Declaration of Principles in
Washington and urging donor countries to increase their donations and
assistance for the Palestinian Authority. At the same time, as I have
just mentioned, that this effort made by his Excellency now, on many
fronts, and on all Arab tracks, to push forward the Peace Process, is
considered very important, because it moves toward a just and
comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
QUESTION: Chairman Arafat, I was wondering if you raised the
assassination last week of the "Engineer" in your discussions with
Secretary Christopher, and if you did, what you spoke about as regards
CHAIRMAN ARAFAT: What I had mentioned from our Cabinet is clear and
obvious concerning this issue.
QUESTION (In Arabic): Mr. President, have you discussed with Mr.
Christopher the progress that is taking place on the Israeli - Syrian
CHAIRMAN ARAFAT (In Arabic): I was (assured) by Mr. Christopher about
the positive movement which is taking place on the Syrian and Lebanese
QUESTION: Are you disappointed that Hamas has announced it will not
participate in the elections?
CHAIRMAN ARAFAT: They had declared from the beginning that they will
not participate officially, but as you know, many of the Islamic leaders
had already participated in the election campaign, some of them here in
Gaza, and others in the West Bank.
QUESTION (In Arabic): How will the progress that is taking place
between Israel and Syria affect Palestinian - Israeli final status
CHAIRMAN ARAFAT (In Arabic): This will be a catalyst for pushing the
peace process forward in the region, because when we went to Madrid, we
went to find a solution for the Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian and
Palestinian tracks. That is why we are keen that progress take place on
the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, to enable us to achieve just and
comprehensive peace in the region.
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