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U.S. Department of State
96/05/21 Address: Fighting Terroism: Challenges for Peacemakers
Office of the Spokesman

                   Secretary of State Warren Christopher 

                   Address to the Washington Institute for 
                   Near East Policy Annual Soref Symposium 

            "Fighting Terrorism:  Challenges for the Peacemakers" 
                                 May 21, 1996 
     Thank you very much, Mike.  It is a real pleasure to speak again at 
The Washington Institute.  Under the leadership of Mike Stein, Barbi 
Weinberg, and Rob Satloff, the Institute has continued to excel as an 
invaluable forum for the discussion of U.S. policy in the Middle East.  
I should say that the Institute has been a reservoir for talent as well.  
Any organization that could help cultivate the likes of Martin Indyk, 
Dennis Ross, and John Hannah has got to be doing something right.  
Sometimes I think that the State Department owes you a finder's fee. 
As Mike mentioned, I last spoke at the Institute in October 1993, soon 
after Prime Minister Rabin and Chairman Arafat shook hands on the White 
House lawn and forever changed the course of Middle East history.  Since 
then, much has happened.  Israel and Jordan are at peace.  Palestinians 
defied the Hamas call to boycott elections and in doing so gave their 
clear mandate for peace. Today, they govern themselves in Gaza and most 
cities in the West Bank.  The Palestinian National Council voted 
overwhelmingly to make good on its commitment to cancel the egregious 
provisions of its charter.  Economic summits have been held in 
Casablanca and Amman.  Eight members of the Arab League have made 
official visits to Israel, and -- with the exception of Libya, Iraq, and 
Sudan -- every Arab League member has participated in some aspect of the 
peace process.   
Had I predicted these events in 1993, you probably would have said that 
I needed a long rest.  The scope and pace of change has truly been 
breathtaking.  It has come so fast that what was previously unthinkable 
is now routine.  In the face of difficult challenges, it is easy to 
forget how dramatically the peace process has already transformed the 
landscape of the Middle East.  As we move forward, we must remember the 
enormous progress we have made. 
None of the challenges we now face is more pressing than the fight 
against terrorism.  Terrorism destroys innocent lives.  It undermines a 
society's sense of security -- and with it the very foundation upon 
which a lasting peace must be built.  As such, terrorism is a threat to 
our national interests -- not simply in the Middle East, but around the 
President Clinton has rightly identified terrorism as one of the most 
important security challenges we face in the wake of the Cold War.  As 
he said in his address to the United Nations last October, terrorism 
today is a world-wide phenomenon.  No one is immune.  Certainly not 
Israel.  But also not Egypt.  Or Japan.  Or France, Britain, or Germany.  
Or Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, or Algeria.  And, unfortunately, not 
America, where terrorists have struck from lower Manhattan to Oklahoma 
As if the threat is not already severe enough, we now face an even more 
alarming danger:  the terrorist armed with weapons of mass destruction.  
Last year's nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system was a grim omen.  
It was also a wake-up call for the world.  The threat is real.  We must 
act now to meet it. 
The United States is leading the way.  Last month, the President signed 
into law landmark anti-terrorism legislation.  This bill provides law 
enforcement with new tools to stop terrorists before they strike and to 
bring them to justice when they do.  It strengthens our ability to 
prevent international terrorists from raising funds in the United 
States.  And while ensuring legal safeguards, it allows us quickly to 
expel foreigners who provide support for terrorist activities. 
The United States has also spearheaded efforts to combat terrorism on a 
global level.  We have imposed strong sanctions against states that 
sponsor or harbor terrorists.  We have intensified our counter-terrorism 
cooperation with other countries, allowing us to apprehend key figures 
in attacks like the World Trade Center bombing.  Last December, with our 
partners in the G-7 and Russia, we convened a ministerial meeting in 
Ottawa to develop common strategies for fighting terror.  And in April, 
President Clinton joined President Yeltsin and other leaders in Moscow, 
where they agreed on new steps to prevent nuclear materials from falling 
into the wrong hands. 
Nowhere in the world has America's leadership in the fight against 
terror been more evident than in the Middle East.  We have maintained UN 
sanctions against Libya for its role in the bombing of Pan-Am 103.  And 
we are working to increase pressure on Sudan for its support of last 
June's assassination attempt against Egypt's President Mubarak. 
America's most critical role, however -- and the one I want to focus on 
today -- is defending the Middle East peace process and the peacemakers 
against the vicious attacks of their enemies.  Terrorists and their 
supporters are now engaged in a systematic assault on Israel and the 
peace process.  Their goal is clear:  They seek to kill the very 
possibility of peace by destroying every Israeli's sense of personal 
The enemies of peace are escalating their attacks for a very clear 
reason:  the peace process is succeeding.  With every step toward peace 
that Israel and her neighbors take, the enemies of peace grow more 
desperate and more determined to lash out.  They must promote fear 
because they know that hope is their undoing. 
The United States is determined to ensure that the enemies of peace do 
not succeed.  We will never give in to their terror.  We refuse to allow 
terrorists to undermine our resolve or divert us from our goal of a 
real, secure, and lasting peace for Israel and for all the peoples of 
the Middle East. 
When Israel was terrorized by a wave of suicide bombings in February and 
March, President Clinton responded by organizing the Sharm el-Sheikh 
summit.  Literally overnight, leaders from around the world answered his 
call to join Israel -- not to celebrate another breakthrough in the 
peace process, but to defend the peace process at a moment of crisis.  
It was an unprecedented event that sent an unmistakable message:  The 
enemies of peace are doomed.  Their terror will only strengthen our 
resolve to complete the circle of peace and put them out of business for 
Sharm el-Sheikh launched a process to expand joint efforts against 
terrorism throughout the region.  Most recently, President Clinton and 
Prime Minister Peres signed a new anti-terrorism accord that will 
strengthen cooperation between our two governments.  In addition, the 
United States is providing Israel with more than $100 million in anti-
terrorism equipment and training.   
We have also begun to bolster the counter-terrorism capabilities of the 
Palestinian Authority.  With our support, Israeli and Palestinian 
security services are now cooperating in a joint campaign to root out 
the terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza.  Palestinian 
forces have intercepted many suicide bombers.  They have uncovered 
explosives and arms caches.  They have arrested, tried, and imprisoned 
perpetrators of terrorist acts and continue to hunt down others. 
Chairman Arafat today clearly understands that he must give a 100 
percent effort in the war on terror -- and not just because his 
agreements with Israel require it.  He is doing it because he knows that 
the bombs of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are trying to destroy Palestinian 
aspirations as much as they are Israeli lives.  The United States will 
continue to insist that this increased Palestinian effort is sustained. 
Like Hamas before it, Hizbollah's purpose in last month's attacks in 
Lebanon was also to kill the peace process.  As hostilities escalated, 
America's responsibility and interests were clear:  To use our influence 
to stop the suffering of innocent civilians, to end the crisis, and to 
create a new framework to limit the chances of it happening again.   
The agreement that resulted from my shuttle mission achieved those 
objectives.  Hundreds of thousands of Israelis and Lebanese have been 
able to return to their homes.  New, written understandings have been 
reached to contain the dangers of any hostilities.  An international 
effort will be mounted to assist in Lebanon's reconstruction.  And we 
are organizing a Monitoring Group in which Israel, Lebanon, and Syria 
are being brought together for the first time to help prevent another 
This recent campaign of violence has again shone the spotlight on a 
disturbing reality:  When it comes to terrorism against the peace 
process, Iran is playing a leading role.  Iran's leaders regularly use 
rhetoric that incites terrorism.  President Rafsanjani called Prime 
Minister Rabin's assassination "divine vengeance."  And just prior to 
the Hamas bombing spree, Iran's Supreme Leader, Khameini, preached that 
"The power of Islam will ultimately bring about the end of the rootless 
Zionist regime...which must be destroyed."   
Iran has not stopped at rhetoric.  It frequently meets with all the 
major terrorist groups -- including Hizbollah, Hamas, Palestinian 
Islamic Jihad, and the PFL-PGC.  It actively encourages these groups to 
use terror to destroy the peace process.  It provides them with money -- 
up to several million dollars a year in the case of Hamas, Islamic 
Jihad, and others; and up to $100 million a year for Hizbollah.  Iran 
also supplies them with arms and material support, training, and -- in 
some cases -- operational guidance. 
The evidence has grown in recent months.  In advance of Israel's 
elections, Iranian-trained terrorists have been sent to infiltrate 
Israel and the Palestinian territories.  Some have been intercepted.  
Others narrowly failed in carrying out their deadly activities.  Still 
others have succeeded in their murderous missions.  We believe that an 
Iranian-backed group was responsible for last week's drive-by shooting 
of an Israeli-American yeshiva student in the West Bank.  In another 
case, Belgium intercepted a shipment containing a mortar, which came 
from Iran and was probably intended for an attack on a Jewish target in 
There should no longer be any debate about Iran's involvement in 
terrorism against the peace process.  German Foreign Minister Kinkel 
left no doubt about that in remarks he made here in Washington just two 
weeks ago.  He said that Germany is "fully aware of the evil things that 
Iran has been doing and is still doing."  He went on to say that "[T]he 
Americans and the Germans agree as to the general assessment of what 
Iran means by way of of Hizbollah, Hamas, and 
While we and our allies now share a similar analysis of the facts, we 
differ when it comes to how best to deal with Iran.  The United States 
believes that Iran will only change its behavior when the world makes it 
pay a sufficiently high political and economic price.  We must deny 
Iran's leaders the resources to finance their dangerous policies.  That 
is why the President decided last year to impose a comprehensive embargo 
on U.S. trade with Iran.  And that is why we have been working with 
Congress on legislation to further tighten economic restrictions on 
In contrast, some European nations continue to engage Iran in what they 
call a critical dialogue, while maintaining normal trade.  The Europeans 
themselves acknowledge that their policy has produced no significant 
change in Iranian behavior.  We remain convinced that no amount of 
dialogue will alter Iran's policies, unless it is coupled with real 
economic pressure. 
Let me stress one point:  We do not oppose the EU policy because we 
oppose the principle of speaking with Iran.  The United States has long 
said that we are ready to conduct an open dialogue with authoritative 
representatives of the Iranian government, in which we could fully air 
our two major concerns:  First, Iran's support for terrorism,  
especially against the peace process.  And second, its efforts to 
acquire weapons of mass destruction.  Iran, however, has never taken up 
this offer. 
Our determination to contain Iran and to defeat the enemies of peace is 
clear.  But so is our commitment to press ahead with negotiations on a 
comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.  Anything less would hand the 
terrorists the very victory they seek. 
To close the circle of peace, agreements between Israel and Syria and 
between Israel and Lebanon are essential.  Syria presents us with a 
unique challenge. On the one hand, we continue to have serious problems 
in our bilateral relationship with Syria.  Syria remains on our 
narcotics list as well as our terrorism list.   
Both President Clinton and I have consistently pressed our concerns with 
President Assad and other senior Syrian officials.  We will continue to 
do so, and to make clear that these concerns must be met before the 
United States can build a mutually beneficial relationship with Syria.  
Yet we recognize that Syria is different from Iran.  Iran rejects the 
very notion of peace and has dedicated itself to Israel's destruction.  
By contrast, Syria has been negotiating directly with Israel to end 
their conflict.  I have no illusions.  Translating that willingness to 
negotiate into a peace agreement will be difficult.  But the talks thus 
far have provided a solid foundation for progress when negotiations 
As long as we remain convinced that peace is possible, we must continue 
to work with the parties to achieve a breakthrough that would have far-
reaching strategic consequences -- not just for the Middle East, but for 
America's vital interests.  A comprehensive peace will dramatically 
reduce the risks of another Arab-Israeli war.  It will remove the final 
constraints on Israel's having normal relations with the entire Arab and 
Muslim world.   
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, ending the Arab-Israeli conflict 
will allow us and our friends  to harness our resources to meet the 
common set of strategic challenges that threaten us all -- especially 
the rise of extremist movements that use terrorism and violence, and 
rogue states, like Iran and Iraq, that possess weapons of mass 
These are the real dangers that we and our friends will have to address 
in the coming years.  In pursuit of our national interests, we are 
determined to do so.  A critical part of our strategy must be a 
continued effort to seize the historic opportunity that now exists to 
achieve a secure and comprehensive peace.   
Thank you. 
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