THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Gaza City, Gaza)
For Immediate Release December 14, 1998 12:00 P.M. (L)
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
IN PHOTO OPPORTUNITY WITH CHAIRMAN ARAFAT
Office of Chairman Arafat
Gaza City, Gaza
Q Mr. President, you say you haven't committed perjury. Can you say, sir, that you lied, as some people believe would help?
THE PRESIDENT: Sam, I've said what I have to say about that. Now, I'm here furthering America's interests, trying to make peace in the Middle East, to keep this peace process on track. 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 or the American people to go through this impeachment process with a trial in the Senate. That's why I have offered to make every effort to make any reasonable compromise with the Congress. I still believe that and I'm still willing to do that. That's all I know to do. Meanwhile, I'm going to keep working on my job.
Q Do you think it's appropriate for the Republican leadership 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 appropriate have been changed rather dramatically -- in the last several months, I think -- you know, they'll have to be the judge of their own conduct. I'm just going to do my job as President.
Q President Clinton, how do you feel being in Gaza for the first time? And is there going to be a withdrawal on Friday?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I want to talk to Chairman Arafat about all these issues related to the Wye Agreement. But I'm
delighted to be in Gaza for the first time. I'm delighted to be the first President to come on Palestinian territory. And I was very pleased to be at the dedication of the airport today. One of the important achievements of the Wye River agreement was the commitment to get this airport open and going, and I'm very, very pleased. It's quite beautiful. And I was pleased to be there and 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 the implementation of the Wye agreement, as Israel has said to be asking?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I would hope that we would continue to implement the Wye Agreement on both sides. I would hope both sides would continue to implement every part of it. And I think it's important that both sides implement every part of 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 final status talks going and then get into them in earnest. But these confidence-building measures, which will enable the Palestinians not only to have an airport, but to have more freedom of movement, more land and more economic opportunity, and enable the Israelis to have a greater assurance of security cooperation, I think they're very important to the success of final status talks.
So I'm committed to this agreement and I hope that it will be implemented in a timely and aggressive manner by both sides.
CHAIRMAN ARAFAT: We consider the visit of President Clinton as an historic event for the Palestinian people and for the people in the Middle East. And we are grateful for his visit and he honored us with this visit today.
We should never forget that under President Clinton's sponsorship we signed a number of peace agreements at the White House. And through President Clinton, peace will prevail in the Middle East. And this is something that will not be forgotten by the Palestinian people or the Israeli people or the people in the Middle East. And, once again, it is a great honor and we are really proud to have President Clinton among us here and among the 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 other thing. There are two historic elements to this day. One is the opportunity that I have been given simply to come here and to have this meeting and to be a part of the airport dedication. The other is the truly historic meeting that the Chairman has convened of the PNC, the PCC and the other Palestinian groups; and the opportunity that the Palestinian people, through their elected representatives, will have to make it clear and unequivocal that they are choosing the path of peace and partnership with Israel, and that we hope -- I think all of us hope that this will lead to a changing of hearts and minds throughout this region among all parties, so that it will be easier for everyone to implement the difficult commitments they have made at Wye and will have to make to get the final status talks completed.
This is a truly significant thing. And I, for one, very much appreciate it. It was a part of the Wye River agreements, it showed a lot of courage on Chairman Arafat's part, and I was delighted to be invited here. And so I just want to say how much I personally appreciate this and how much I think it will mean over the long run to the prospects for a successful peace agreement.
Q Thank you.