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On October 23, 1998, Palestinians and Israelis revived the Middle East peace process by signing the Wye Memorandum, an agreement designed to strengthen the “land for peace” formula and lead to final status negotiations. King Hussein, in between his chemotherapy sessions, traveled to Wye River to attend key parts of the tortuous nine-day negotiations. He offered creative ideas and delivered an emotional appeal to the Israeli and Palestinian delegations to rise above politics and “work towards a better future for their children.” The substance of his appeal was repeated in this address at the White House signing ceremony.

Introducing His Majesty at the ceremony, US President Bill Clinton said that King Hussein’s courage, commitment, wisdom and frankly, stern instruction at appropriate times were at the heart of this success.” Clinton continued to say of His Majesty, “He reminded us of what rises above the facts, the arguments, the legitimate interests, even the painful sacrifices involved. He was the living embodiment of the best of our past and the brightest of our hopes for the future. And every time he was in the room, he made us all become a little closer to the people we all would like to see ourselves as being. For that, we and the world are immeasurably in his debt.”


Address at the Signing of the Wye Memorandum


Washington, DC

October 23, 1998


Mr. President,

Mr. Vice President,

Ms. Albright, Secretary of State,

My friend, Sandy Berger.


And, of course, all our friends here and all our friends who played such a vital part in the last few days in which I was privileged to be an observer and one who sought to give courage to the process that was ongoing.

George Tenet.

And, as the President said, Dennis (Ross) has lost his black hair and replaced it to grey. I’ve lost all mine and even my eyebrows. (Laughter) But this is part of the life in which we live. And I was privileged to be with you all. And no matter what, I would have been. If I had an ounce of strength, I would have done my utmost to be there, and to help in any way I can. (Applause)

By the way, many in our part of the world and different parts of the world have written me off. But I have a lot of faith in God, and I believe that one lives one’s destiny. And as far as I’m concerned, my morale is the highest it has ever been. And this has been a shot in the arm for me, what you have accomplished today, President Arafat and Prime Minister Netanyahu. (Applause)

I recall in discovering past events over many years, and one thing that remained with me throughout those many years was a total commitment to the cause of peace. We quarrel, we agree; we are friendly, we are not friendly. But we have no right to dictate through irresponsible action or narrow-mindedness the future of our children and their children’s children. There has been enough destruction, enough death, enough waste, and it’s time that, together, we occupy a place beyond ourselves, our peoples, that is worthy of them under the sun, the descendants of the children of Abraham.

Palestinians and Israelis coming together. I have attended, sir, previous occasions here, and, of course, you, Mr. President, together with the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, were my partners four years ago in the Washington Declaration, and later on when the state of peace was finalized in our weekend in Jordan and in Aqaba. I don’t think we might have given you as much hard work, or less sleep than you have been subjected to of late. But what I found this time, and what really gives me hope and confidence, is that that same chemistry, after the first meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Arafat, is there.

I think that we passed a crossroad. We have made our commitment to the welfare and happiness and security and future of our peoples in all the times to come. And now our partners are numerous, and we wish them every success in their endeavors and we’ll do everything we can to help them.

I think such a step as is concluded today will inevitably trigger those who want to destroy life, destroy hope, create fear in the hearts and minds of people, trigger in them their worst instincts. They will be skeptical on the surface, but if they can, they will cause damage, wherever they are and wherever they belong. Let’s hope that the overwhelming majority of us—those who are committed to the future, those who know what responsibilities they hold now—will be able, through steady progress and a determined combined joint effort, be able to thwart their aims and their objectives and move—and maybe, God willing, witness the dawn that we are always seeking of a comprehensive peace in our entire region.

Mr. President, I have had the privilege of being a friend of the United States and its presidents since late President Eisenhower. Throughout all the years that have passed, I have kept in touch. But on the subject of peace, the peace we are seeking, I have never—with all due respect and all the affection that I hold for your predecessors—known someone with your dedication, clear-headedness, focus and determination to help resolve this issue in the best possible way. (Applause)

Mr. President, permit me to say what I feel—I was mentioning it more than once in the last few days. You have the tolerance and the patience of Job, and you are the subject of our admiration and respect. We hope that you will be with us as we see greater successes and as we help our brethren and our friends move ahead towards a better tomorrow.

On behalf of Noor and for those colleagues of mine from Jordan, thank you all for your great kindness. And thank you, our Israeli friends and this very fine delegation, for all your contributions and efforts. And, obviously, my pride is limitless in the efforts and the commitment of President Arafat and his colleagues.

I think we are moving. We are not marking time, but we are moving in the right direction. I believe that very sincerely. And may God bless our efforts. Thank you very much. (Applause)