Middle East Trip: Remarks by the President in Photo Opportunity with Chairman Arafat

Office of the Press Secretary
(Gaza City, Gaza)

For Immediate Release December 14, 1998


Office of Chairman Arafat
Gaza City, Gaza

12:00 P.M. (L)

Q Mr. President, you say you haven't committedperjury. Can you say, sir, that you lied, as some people believewould help?

THE PRESIDENT: Sam, I've said what I have to say aboutthat. Now, I'm here furthering America's interests, trying tomake peace in the Middle East, to keep this peace process ontrack. I think it's important. I will say what I've said before-- I don't believe it's in the interest of the United States orthe American people to go through this impeachment process with atrial in the Senate. That's why I have offered to make everyeffort to make any reasonable compromise with the Congress. Istill believe that and I'm still willing to do that. That's allI know to do. Meanwhile, I'm going to keep working on my job.

Q Do you think it's appropriate for the Republicanleadership to call for your resignation while you are over here,overseas?

Q President Clinton, how do you feel being in Gaza?

THE PRESIDENT: The boundaries of what's appropriatehave been changed rather dramatically -- in the last severalmonths, I think -- you know, they'll have to be the judge oftheir own conduct. I'm just going to do my job as President.

Q President Clinton, how do you feel being in Gazafor the first time? And is there going to be a withdrawal onFriday?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I want to talk to Chairman Arafatabout all these issues related to the Wye Agreement. But I'm

delighted to be in Gaza for the first time. I'm delighted to bethe first President to come on Palestinian territory. And I wasvery pleased to be at the dedication of the airport today. Oneof the important achievements of the Wye River agreement was thecommitment to get this airport open and going, and I'm very, verypleased. It's quite beautiful. And I was pleased to be thereand I'm very glad to be here in Chairman Arafat's headquarters,with his team. And we'll talk about all the other issues.

Q And the withdrawal?

THE PRESIDENT: I'll have more to say about that later.

Q Mr. President -- to be time -- on theimplementation of the Wye agreement, as Israel has said to beasking?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I would hope that we wouldcontinue to implement the Wye Agreement on both sides. I wouldhope both sides would continue to implement every part of it.And I think it's important that both sides implement every partof it in good faith.

Keep in mind, Wye is not the end of this process --it's simply a means to an end. We also have to get the finalstatus talks going and then get into them in earnest. But theseconfidence-building measures, which will enable the Palestiniansnot only to have an airport, but to have more freedom ofmovement, more land and more economic opportunity, and enable theIsraelis to have a greater assurance of security cooperation, Ithink they're very important to the success of final statustalks.

So I'm committed to this agreement and I hope that itwill be implemented in a timely and aggressive manner by bothsides.

CHAIRMAN ARAFAT: We consider the visit of PresidentClinton as an historic event for the Palestinian people and forthe people in the Middle East. And we are grateful for his visitand he honored us with this visit today.

We should never forget that under President Clinton'ssponsorship we signed a number of peace agreements at the WhiteHouse. And through President Clinton, peace will prevail in theMiddle East. And this is something that will not be forgotten bythe Palestinian people or the Israeli people or the people in theMiddle East. And, once again, it is a great honor and we arereally proud to have President Clinton among us here and amongthe Palestinian people.

I was hoping that logistically we would have been able to have a motorcade, because people are lined up waiting to greet President Clinton on both sides of the road. And I believe perhaps you took a glimpse of the people flying in the chopper over Gaza, standing on both sides, hoping that the motorcade would come by. From the airport -- from the airport. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: I would like to say just one otherthing. There are two historic elements to this day. One is theopportunity that I have been given simply to come here and tohave this meeting and to be a part of the airport dedication.The other is the truly historic meeting that the Chairman hasconvened of the PNC, the PCC and the other Palestinian groups;and the opportunity that the Palestinian people, through theirelected representatives, will have to make it clear andunequivocal that they are choosing the path of peace andpartnership with Israel, and that we hope -- I think all of ushope that this will lead to a changing of hearts and mindsthroughout this region among all parties, so that it will beeasier for everyone to implement the difficult commitments theyhave made at Wye and will have to make to get the final statustalks completed.

This is a truly significant thing. And I, for one,very much appreciate it. It was a part of the Wye Riveragreements, it showed a lot of courage on Chairman Arafat's part,and I was delighted to be invited here. And so I just want tosay how much I personally appreciate this and how much I think itwill mean over the long run to the prospects for a successfulpeace agreement.

Q Thank you.


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