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The “Summit of the Peacemakers” was convened in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in March 1996 in order to put the Palestinian-Israeli peace process back on track after a spate of suicide bombings in Israel. In his address to the gathering, His Majesty King Hussein stressed that those who use religious justifications for terrorist acts have tarnished the image of Islam, which is a religion of peace, tolerance and dialogue. King Hussein also said that a dual approach must be used in the fight against terrorism. Sources of funding, training and operations must be cut off, and media coverage must not encourage terrorism. His Majesty added that we must eliminate those sources of despair that drive persons to perform such horrible actions. In the end, he said, only a just, comprehensive peace which leads to greater prosperity can provide true security for the peoples of the Middle East.


Address to the “Summit of the Peacemakers”


Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

March 13, 1996


Your Majesty, Your Royal Highnesses, Presidents and Prime Ministers,

Muslims around the world greet each other in different ways, but they always refer to compassion. I would like to begin, then, with the traditional greeting: “Peace be with you, and God’s compassion and blessings.”

We meet today in the land of Egypt. In His holy book the Qur’an, God Almighty promised that this land would be a land of safety: “Enter ye all into Egypt in peace.” (Ch. 12, V. 99)

It is therefore fitting that we meet here to discuss how we can guarantee peace, safety and security for all in this troubled region, and beyond.

I would like to thank those who courageously and resolutely worked to bring about this conference. Foremost among them, I thank the president of the United States of America, Mr. Bill Clinton, and our host, His Excellency President Hosni Mubarak.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has always believed that world peace is the path to human salvation. As we approach the twenty-first century, it is time to look again at our terminology. It is frequently confusing and misleading, and it needs to be redefined. Suicide is not “martyrdom.” Terrorism is not “the ultimate sacrifice.” The killing of innocent people is not “jihad.” Jihad in the service of faith requires respect for human life, and respect for treaties and charters. Islam strictly forbids the killing of civilians.

Let me say this loud and clear. There is a world of difference between terrorist acts and the Islamic Shari’a. Islam is not only a religion, but a way of life. And at its heart lie the sacred principles of tolerance and dialogue.

This is an appropriate forum for us to clear the name of our faith, and to cleanse its tarnished image. The murder and torture of innocent civilians is not exclusive to any one race or nation, or to the followers of any one religion. Over the past year, we have seen horrific proof of this in Tokyo, in Oklahoma, in London, in Tel Aviv, in Karachi and in Addis Ababa. It is therefore vital that terrorism is tackled on the international level. It is not enough to think in terms of the region, or east and west, or any other narrowly-defined grouping.

In the first half of this century, humanity’s greatest problem was global conflict. World wars claimed the lives of tens of millions of people. Just as the countries of the free world had to find solutions to that problem, so must we today find a solution to the problem of security. It is our common task to ensure the safety of human beings everywhere.

If we are to eliminate terrorism, we must establish an international mechanism to define it. We must articulate principles and methods by which to uproot it. This means cutting off its sources of funding, training and operations. We must deter and dissuade any country that supports terrorism or hosts its apparatus. We must institutionalize the exchange of intelligence and information related to the terrorist operations of organizations and individuals. It is also vital that states close down any and all camps that are used to train terrorists.

The media must play their role in the fight against terror. Just as terrorist organizations cannot be allowed to establish, control or run any media platforms, the mass media’s coverage of acts of terror must be balanced and responsible. It must not encourage terrorism and its institutions.

But it is not enough to tackle the mechanics of terror organizations. We must also tackle the situations that create terrorists. We desperately need to address the frustration, the loss and the despair that drive some to these actions.

Peace is not an empty slogan. It is a way of life that seeks to develop humanity’s resources, and to open the door to avenues or real hope. Peace is the path to human freedom. It allows peoples and states to live in prosperity. Conversely, frustration and desperation, coupled with poverty, impede the course of human life.

But terrorism is neither the proper nor the legitimate way to fulfill the aspirations of peoples, and to ensure their rights. We in this part of the world must shoulder our responsibilities. It is not enough to denounce terrorism. We must work together to protect the dignity of human beings, whoever and wherever they may be. This is our ultimate aim and our overriding interest.

To protect human beings and their dignity is to lay siege to the sources of frustration and desperation. Experience proves that human beings in the Middle East want to live in a stable region. They yearn for tranquillity. They want to live in dignity, and to practice their right of free expression with commensurate responsibility.

The Middle East has been devastated by wars and rumors of wars. The waster of life and resources has impoverished many facets of our peoples’ lives. Almost two hundred billion dollars were spent on arms in our region in the past few years, while only fifteen billion dollars were spent on food. Such are the facts of life in this region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Palestinian people, like the Iraqi people, have endured immense suffering. It is our duty to give them assistance that will relieve their suffering, and right this injustice. Peace between Israel and the Arab states began almost twenty years ago with the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. This was followed by the Palestinians under their legitimate leadership, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, in 1993, and by the Jordanian-Israeli Peace Treaty in 1994. The peace process, including the negotiations between Syria, Lebanon and Israel, embodies the wishes and legitimate aspirations of the peoples of our region.

There is no turning back. Whatever the pressures or difficulties, the will for peace can overcome all the obstacles. Our peoples will attain the dividends of peace. I therefore ask that this conference act forcefully in support of peace. In our final declaration, let us make a clear, dynamic and concrete response to the forces of rejectionism, whatever their identities and motives.

Your Majesty, Your Royal Highnesses, Presidents and Prime Ministers,

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan knows about terrorism from bitter experience. We have ourselves been among its victims, and we have at times been besieged by it. We have lost some of our finest sons to it, and our national development has been ravaged by it.

My country will always be on the front line in the effort to protect the peace process and to maintain the gains made by ordinary people. Our commitment to human rights and democratization will remain a constant component of our national identity, and a guiding light for our actions in the Arab, Islamic and international arenas.

Jordan will remain committed to combating ethnic and sectarian conflicts. We will continue working to end terror. We will direct every effort against poverty, despair and fanaticism, so that we can all live in dignity and freedom. In this, we take our guidance from the Holy Qur’an, in which God Almighty tells us:

“O mankind, we have created your male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most honored among you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous. Allah is all-knowing, all-aware.” (49/13)

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you. Wa assalamu alaikum jami’an. And peace be upon you all.

Address to the “Summit of the Peacemakers”

Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

March 13, 1996