Discussions With Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir of Israel
March 16, 1988
The President. It's been a pleasure to
meet with Prime Minister Shamir again and to have
this opportunity to review with him the important issue of peace in the Middle East. We have a unique
relationship with Israel, a relationship of
trust, friendship, and shared ideals. I think we can be proud of the
achievements that we've made over the last 7 years in giving more substance and
dimension to the strong ties between Israel and the United States. In the remainder of my
term, we'll continue to work to strengthen those ties.
main topic of our discussion today was the search for peace in the Middle East. We've seen a new sense
of urgency on the part of many in the region and a wide recognition of the
reality that the status quo is unacceptable. Our efforts have been geared
toward trying to find a reasonable and practical way to make real progress --
progress that will assure the security of Israel and its neighbors and
achieve the legitimate rights of the Palestinians.
present situation is a challenge and an opportunity to move decisively to break
the deadlock that has lasted far too long. I hope we will not lose this
opportunity. Today Prime Minister Shamir and I
discussed the proposal for moving forward rapidly to peace negotiations, which
Secretary Shultz left with Israel, Jordan, and Syria during his recent
visit. We believe this proposal offers a realistic and achievable way to change
the relationship between Israel and the Arabs. It's a
concrete demonstration of my commitment to finding a solution to the
Arab-Israeli conflict through a negotiating process that would begin soon. As I
told Prime Minister Shamir, the United States is prepared to be an
active partner in this process, and we hope that all the parties involved will
seize this opportunity.
let's be clear about several things. The United States will not slice this
initiative apart and will not abandon it. And those who will say no to the
United States plan -- and the Prime Minister has not used this word -- need not
answer to us; they'll need to answer to themselves and their people as to why
they turned down a realistic and sensible plan to achieve negotiations. This is
a time for all the parties to the conflict to make decisions for peace.
Minister Shamir and I also reviewed our countries'
robust and vital bilateral relationship. As you know, Israel has been designated one
of our major non-NATO allies and friends, and we have developed a solid basis
of strategic cooperation between our two countries. Strategic cooperation is a
symbol of our converging needs and our mutual commitment to ensuring that no
wedge will ever be driven between us. I want to add that Prime Minister Shamir and I both remain very concerned about the many
thousands of Jews that remain in the Soviet Union and yearn to emigrate
or fully express their Jewish identity. The plight of Soviet Jewry shall remain
at the top of my agenda in my discussions with Secretary Gorbachev.
I bid farewell to Prime Minister Shamir, I wish him
and the people of Israel a happy 40th
anniversary. Our prayer is that this anniversary will mark the beginning of the
era of peace and accommodation in the Middle East.
The Prime Minister. Thank you, Mr.
President. This visit to Washington has given me an
opportunity to meet again with President Reagan, Secretary of State Shultz,
Secretary of Defense Carlucci, and Secretary of the Treasury Baker. My
colleagues and I have also met with congressional leaders and other friends in
the Congress, in the administration, and in the general public.
am indebted to the President for this kind invitation. It affords me the
opportunity to discuss matters of common concern and to deepen the friendship
and understanding between our two countries. In the talks with the President
and with Secretary Shultz, we reviewed the state of U.S.-Israel relations and
the efforts to advance peace in the Middle East. Mr. President, we have
always been in complete agreement with the principle of negotiating from a
position of strength for which you have always stood. We have stepped up
efforts to seek a framework for conducting direct peace negotiations between Israel and those of its Arab
neighbors that we hope will join us in the quest for peace.
Israel has welcomed the
American involvement and the Secretary's efforts in this search. We have
confidence in the American role because we share the same goal of peace with
security for all the countries in the Middle East. I have strong
reservations concerning the proposed international conference which, in my
view, is not conducive to peace. Some months ago I accepted a proposal by
Secretary Shultz to launch direct negotiations with the blessing of the
U.S.-Soviet summit in order to grant international legitimacy for the
negotiations for those states desiring it. Unfortunately, it was rejected.
Nevertheless, I shall be ready to consider a similar proposal. Israel firmly believes that
those who are prepared to live with each other in peace must learn to negotiate
directly with each other. We remain committed to the Camp David accords, which have
provided a workable agreed framework for peace between Israel and each of its Arab
President, these are difficult times for Israel. We shall overcome them
in the best possible way consonant with our tradition and our eagerness to
prevent the loss of lives. Mr. President, on the eve of Israel's 40th anniversary, the
people and Government of Israel are united in hailing the deep friendship and
the close cooperation between our two countries. This friendship has reached
unprecedented levels under your leadership. We have established a strategic
cooperation agreement between Israel and the United States, a free trade area
agreement between our two countries, and the designation of Israel as a major non-NATO
ally of the United States. We are confident that
a solid foundation of friendship between Israel and the United States will remain unshaken in
spite of occasional differences of opinion that may arise.
am sure I speak for all the people of Israel and for peace-loving
persons everywhere when I express our gratitude for your untiring efforts to
reduce tensions in the world and to bring peace to our war-torn region. We will
continue to do our utmost to cooperate in the search for peace. I return to Jerusalem confident that with the
friendship and understanding of the United States Government and its people we
shall succeed. Thank you.
Note: The President
spoke at in the East Room at the White House. Earlier, the President
and the Prime Minister met in the Oval Office and then attended a luncheon in