Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin

Address at the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement Signing Ceremony

delivered 28 September 1995, Washington, D.C.

 

Audio mp3 of Address

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President Clinton  Foreign Minister Peres  President Mubarak  King Hussein bin Talal  Chairman Arafat

 

[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio.]

First, the good news:

I am the last speaker -- before, of course, the closing remarks by the President.

The President of the United States; King Hussein; President Mubarak; Chairman Arafat; prime ministers; foreign ministers; distinguished members of the two Houses of the Congress; ladies and gentlemen:

Now, after a long series of formal, festive statements, take a look at the stage -- the King of Jordan, the President of Egypt, Chairman Arafat, and us, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of Israel, on one platform with the President of the United States. Please, take a good, hard look. The sight you see -- you see before you at this moment was impossible, was unthinkable just three years ago. Only poets dreamt of it. And to our great pain, soldier[s] and civilians went to their death to make this moment possible.

Here we stand before you, men who[se] fate and history have sent on a mission of peace to end once and for all 100 years of bloodshed. Our dream is also your dream -- King Hussein, President Mubarak, Chairman Arafat, all the others, and, above [all], assisting us, President Bill Clinton -- a President who is working in the service of peace. We all love the same children, weep the same tears, hate the same enmity, and pray for reconciliation. Peace has no borders.

Yes, I know our speeches are already repeating themselves. Perhaps this picture has -- has already become routine. The handshakes no longer set your pulse racing. Your -- Your loving hearts no longer pound with emotion as they did then. We have begun with emotion, as -- as they did then. We have begun to get used to each other. We are like old acquaintances. We can tell about -- all about Arafatís griefs. He and his friend can tell you all about ours. We have -- We have matured in the two years since we first shook hands here -- the handshake that was the sign and symbol of the start of reconciliation.

Today, we are more sober. We are gladdened by the potential for reconciliation, but we are also wary of the dangers that lurk on every side. The enemies of yesterday share a common enemy of today and in the future -- the terrorism that sows death in our homes and on the buses that ply the streets. The sounds of celebration here cannot drown out the cries of innocent citizens who traveled those buses to their death.1 And your eyes shining here cannot erase...for a single moment the sight of the lifeless eyes of the students who were going to their classes and housewives who were on their way to market when hatred struck them down. We are pained by their death and remember them with love.

I want to say to you, Chairman Arafat, the leader of the Palestinians: Together we should not let the land flowing -- the land...flowing with milk and honey become a land flowing with blood and tears. Donít let it happen. If all the partners to the peacemaking do not unite against the evil angels of death by terrorism, all that will remain of this ceremony are color snapshots, empty mementos. Rivers of hatred will overflow again and swamp the Middle East.

We, gentlemen, will not permit terrorism to defeat peace. We will not allow it. If we donít have partners in this bitter, difficult war, we will fight it alone. We know how to fight, and we know how to win.

My brother Jews speak through the media to you [of] thousands of years of exile. And the dream of generations have returned us to our historic home in the land of Israel -- the land of the Prophets. Etched on every vineyard, every field, every olive tree, every flower is the deep imprint of the Jewish history; of the Book of the books that we have bequeathed to the entire world; of the values of morality and of justice. Every place in the land of the Prophets, every name is an integral part of our heritage of thousands of years of the divine promise to us and to our descendants. Here, is where we were born. Here, is where we created a nation. Here, we forged a haven for the persecuted and built a model of a democratic country.

But we are not alone here on this soil, in this land. And so we are sharing this good earth today with the Palestinian people in order to choose life.

Starting today, an agreement on paper will be translated into reality on the ground. We are not retreating. We are not leaving. We are building -- and we are doing so for the sake of peace.

Our neighbors, the Palestinian people, we who have seen you in your difficulties, we saw you for generations; we who have killed and have been killed are walking beside you now toward a common future, and we want you as a good neighbors.

Ladies and gentlemen, this week the Jewish people, in these thousands of places of dispersion has marked a new era. And in their Holy Day prayers, Jews everywhere are saying -- [delivered in Hebrew]. May we  -- I am translating it to the best of my capability:

May we be remembered and inscribe, before you, in the book of life and of blessing and peace and prosperity, of deliverance and comfort and opportunity -- we and all your people, the House of Israel -- for a good life and peace.

These are my wishes to all the Jewish people. These are my wishes to all the citizens of Israel -- a good life and a peace. These are -- These are also our wishes to our neighbors, to all the world peoples -- a good life and peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, look at us again. Look at the scene on the stage here in the White House. You are not -- You are not excited anymore. You have grown up accustomed to it. But in order for peace to be completed, in order for this picture to be completed, and for the Middle East to become a jewel in the world crown, it still lacks two people -- the President of Syria and the President of Lebanon. I call upon them to come and join us, to come to the platform of peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, if and when this happen[s], we will again ask President Clinton to be our gracious host. We will again ask King Hussein, President Mubarak, Chairman Arafat, and all the others to return here to be partners in the glorious picture of all the peoples of the Middle East dwelling in security and peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me extend my wish to all of us that we may meet here again -- and soon.

Happy New Year.

Shana Tova!2


1 Reference likely refers at least to the Kfar Darom and Afula suicide bus attacks.

2 "Happy New Year." The Hebrew term does not appear in the source document, which only reports that Rabin's words were "spoken in Hebrew." and translated into English as "Happy New Year." See reference below for further information. A Google English to Hebrew translation of the "Happy New Year" produced "Shana Tova" and was therefore placed in the text version above.

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