|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Radio Address to the Palestinian People on Voice of Palestine
Ramallah, West Bank, September 12, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman, Jerusalem
U.S. Department of State
Good morning, this is the third day of my first visit to the Middle East as America's Secretary of State. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to meet with Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Netanyahu and with students from both the Israeli and Palestinian communities.
But I also wanted -- and I am grateful to the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation for the chance -- to speak directly to you, the Palestinian people. For the future of dignity, security and peace that I have journeyed here to promote will not come simply because diplomats wish it and declarations promise it. The United States can and will help, but in the end, only you and your neighbors can create that future and make it last.
In recent years, the peoples of this region have made important strides down the road towards opportunity and peace. At Oslo, there was, for the first time, a mutual recognition that Israelis and Palestinians must live together, and that you must work together on the basis of reciprocity and mutual responsibility to forge a permanent peace.
That agreement accomplished what decades of rejectionism and strife could not. More than ever before in the history of your national movement, you are able now to shape your own destiny. You have established the Palestinian Authority.
You have achieved through negotiation the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Jericho and Gaza and their redeployment in Hebron.
In fulfillment of new responsibilities, last year, you held your first national elections.
You chose a Legislative Council whose members have become full partners in providing leadership for the Palestinian people.
In deliberations on such matters as the Basic Law and the budget, you have shown a clear desire to establish a thriving and democratic Palestinian society.
In that effort, America wants you to succeed. We have seen your enthusiasm for free expression, your perseverance in the face of adversity and your insistence on being treated with dignity. We have felt respect and a desire to help.
That is why the United States has long insisted that any peace agreement should recognize your legitimate political rights and aspirations.
It is why the United States has been a leader in providing economic assistance to help you build viable democratic institutions.
It is why we have encouraged the efforts of the World Bank, the IMF and other international agencies to work with you to meet basic needs and to create new opportunities for your people.
It is why we convened a process through which nations from around the world might contribute to the Palestinian Authority's success.
Above all, it is why the heart of the message that I have brought to the region this week, a message I am conveying on behalf of President Clinton and the American people, is that for you and for your neighbors, peace is the only option for the future.
The path of conflict is fertile only in the production of sorrow and grief. For Israelis, Palestinians and Arabs alike, it is a dry well. It offers a future only of more violence, more victims, more suffering and more hate. That is a dark future the people of this region do not deserve and I am convinced will not accept.
Although the road to peace can be very difficult to travel, it offers a different future, a future rich with the promise of mutual respect, increased cooperation and dignity for all peoples.
To make that future a reality, the crisis of confidence that has arisen in the peace process must be ended. The parties must break through the paralyzing cycle of recrimination and begin again to take pragmatic steps to move the peace process forward. And all those with a stake in peace must meet their responsibilities.
As Chairman Arafat has pledged, the Palestinian Authority must do everything within its power to prevent and punish terrorism and to deepen the irrevocable commitment made at Oslo to treat Israel not as an adversary but as a permanent partner in peace.
Israeli leaders should refrain from unilateral actions such as settlement expansion, land confiscation and house demolition that undermine Palestinian confidence in their intentions, and they should bear in mind -- even as they strive to safeguard their people's security -- that no nation has a greater stake than Israel in helping Palestinians to prosper.
The United States has a responsibility, which we recognize, to support peace without trying to impose peace. And as President Clinton has made clear, we will continue to meet that responsibility by supporting a comprehensive peace based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, including the principle of land for peace.
Finally, the international community has a responsibility to contribute its full diplomatic and financial backing to the peace process.
Before closing, I want to say a word about the emphasis I have placed during my trip on the need for all parties to join in the battle against terror.
Two days ago, I had the opportunity to visit with some of the surviving victims of the recent bombings in Jerusalem. To all the victims of those attacks, Jews and Arabs alike, we owe our prayers and our commitment to seek justice. But those who were injured or killed were not the only targets of these hateful acts. The explosions were just as surely designed to destroy the Palestinian experiment in democracy and to kill hopes for peace.
The sponsors of violence fear you -- the Palestinian majority -- because you have a vision and they do not.
The bombers would rather see you suffer forever in isolation than succeed in living in peace with your neighbors.
They want to intimidate you into silence or complicity because your success would prove that there is an alternative to endless strife, that there is an alternative to reliance on the soul-withering and self-defeating instrument of terror.
As I said yesterday, those who commit terrorism in the name of the Palestinian cause are committing terrorism against the Palestinian cause.
The deafening sirens of terror make it harder for the world to hear your urgent and just call for dignity and opportunity.
They also cause Israel to respond with closures and other restrictive measures that -- whether justified on security grounds or not -- make it impossible for many of you to go about your daily lives, impossible to visit relatives and friends, impossible to bring a loved one to a hospital for needed treatment, and impossible to get to your jobs and earn income to put food on the table for your families.
In this way, the forces of terror simultaneously deny you your dreams for the future, while increasing your present suffering.
That is why the average Palestinian has no greater enemy than Hamas or Islamic Jihad.
It is why fighting terrorism is the responsibility of both the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people.
And it is why all should understand that the battle against terror is a pro-Palestinian and pro-Arab, as well as a pro-Israeli, cause.
The same is true of the effort to negotiate peace. That, too, is a mutual responsibility and necessity.
It is not enough for either side to say it is committed to peace. Both must renew and reinforce their commitment to the Oslo agreements and to the partnership that is inherent within them.
Both must act in the spirit of peace. Both must speak the language of peace. Both must rebut the opponents of peace. Both must take into account the needs and views of the other. Both must be willing to compromise. And both must contribute to an atmosphere in which the violent extremes are marginalized and the roots of trust may grow.
That will require courage and vision from leaders on both sides -- and from you. For what is needed today is not just a partnership of leaders. There must also be a determination by the responsible majorities in both communities to revive, keep alive and strengthen the momentum towards reconciliation. Such a joint determination is the extremists worst nightmare. And it is the best hope for the dream of a true and lasting peace.
The American diplomat Ralph Bunche, who was involved in Israeli-Arab negotiations many years ago, once said:
"I have a bias against war; a bias for peace. I have a bias that leads me to believe in the essential goodness of my fellow man; which leads me to believe no problem in human relations is ever insoluble. I have a bias in favor of both Arabs and Jews in the sense that I believe that both are good, honorable and essentially peace-loving peoples and are therefore as capable of making peace as of waging war."
Those are the words with which I want to leave you, because they capture my feelings exactly. That we must still repeat them decades after they were spoken is an unhappy fact. That we still do repeat them, that they still ring true today, is a more important fact.
The United States supports the efforts of the Palestinian people to live in dignity, democracy and prosperity.
We believe it is not only necessary, but possible, to reconcile Israel's legitimate concerns about security with the legitimate political rights of the Palestinian people.
We take heart in the knowledge that the goal of a comprehensive Middle East peace is supported today by people from all spiritual traditions, from all walks of life, on every continent.
We are convinced that achieving a lasting peace is the best way to honor the sacrifices of those on all sides who have fought, sacrificed and suffered in the past.
And we have faith that, despite recent setbacks, the peoples of this region will choose peace, know peace and live in peace in years to come.
Towards that shared goal, the United States pledges its continued best efforts and help.
Shukran. And God bless you.
[End of Document]
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