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U.S. Department of State
96/04/24 Remarks:  Israel Independence Day
Office of the Spokesman


 
                        U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                         Office of the Spokesman 
 
____________________________________________________________________
As Prepared for Delivery                              April 24, 1996 
 
 
                        REMARKS ON BEHALF OF 
                 SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER 
                           DELIVERED BY 
                ACTING SECRETARY OF STATE STROBE TALBOTT 
                 AT ISRAEL INDEPENDENCE DAY RECEPTION 
 
 
                          Embassy of Israel 
                          Washington, D.C. 
 
 
I regret that I am unable to join you for this celebration of the 48th 
anniversary of Israel's independence. 
 
As you know, at the President's direction, I am engaged in an intensive 
effort to end the fighting in Lebanon.  My goal is to achieve an 
enduring set of understandings that will return calm and peace to 
civilians on both sides of the Israeli-Lebanese border.  Once the crisis 
is resolved, we are determined to move quickly toward a comprehensive 
settlement -- the only real means to provide the people of Israel with 
the peace and security they deserve. 
 
Since Israel's last Independence Day, it has faced challenges as great 
as any in its history.  A year ago, none of us could have imagined that 
Prime Minister Rabin would not be with us today. 
 
Americans have experienced the agony of assassination.  We appreciate 
what a traumatic loss his murder was, and still is.  And we have nothing 
but admiration for the fortitude with which Prime Minister Peres and so 
many others have sustained the march towards peace with security and a 
new Middle East. 
 
The peace process is supported by many people of good will, Arab as well 
as Israeli, throughout the region.  And their ranks will steadily grow 
as the fruits of peace become evident.   
 
But peace is not an easy thing to pursue.  The more momentum the process 
gains and the closer we come to our goal, the more embittered and 
desperate the enemies of peace have become.  That is why the suicide 
bombers of Hamas have brought carnage to Israel's cities.  That is why 
Israel has been forced to fight the cynical guerrillas of Hezbollah, who 
have no compunctions about hiding behind civilians to launch their 
cowardly attacks, with tragic results for the people of Israel and 
Lebanon alike. 
 
Once again, a celebration of Israel's independence is taking place 
against a backdrop of threats against the security of Israel.  That is 
why we have no choice but to press forward for peace with security. 
 
I reaffirm to you the unshakable support of the United States for the 
people of Israel in your pursuit of peace. 
 
I am also here to reaffirm my confidence and faith in the people of 
Israel. 
 
The courage and strength you have demonstrated through 48 years of 
struggle, sacrifice and success, and your unique commitment to 
democratic values, will see you through again.  Of that I am certain. 
 
For four decades the United States has stood by Israel's side.  We will 
remain by your side as a partner, and above all as a friend.  That was 
the message President Clinton carried to Israel last month, and the 
message he asked me to convey today. 
 
The roots of our commitment to your security and prosperity run deep.  
Like you, we are a diverse nation comprised of people from every part of 
the world.  Like you, our nation cherishes freedom, and like you, we are 
deeply committed to take risks for peace. 
 
It is my sincere hope that when we mark this occasion next year, the 
real peace and security that Israel so richly deserves will at last be 
within its grasp.  President Clinton and I will continue to do 
everything in our power to help make it so. 
 
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