On this date, His Majesty King Hussein and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin together addressed a joint session of the US Congress, the first time in history that two leaders did so. Their address came one day after King Hussein met with Prime Minister Rabin in the Rose Garden of the White House to sign the Washington Declaration, which formally ended the 46-year state of war between Jordan and Israel. The two counties signed a peace treaty on October 26, 1994.
Address to the Joint Session of the U.S. Congress
July 26, 1994
Members of Congress,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honor for me to stand before you, the representatives of the great American nation, on this historic occasion.
We have now become partners in shaping the future of all our peoples. We seek for them a future of peace, stability and security, the prospects for which are growing before our eyes. It is a heart-warming sight for those of us who have continuously pursued this goal throughout our lives.
We in Jordan have always sought a bold peace. We have been conscious of our responsibilities towards the coming generationsto ensure that they will have the certainty of leading a dignified and fulfilled life. We have sought a peace that can harness their creative energies, to allow them to realize their true potential, and build their future with confidence, devoid of fear and uncertainty.
None of this can be achieved without establishing a direct dialogue at the highest level of leadership.
This meeting in Washington at the invitation of President Clinton represents the beginning of a new phase in our common journey towards peace between Jordan and Israel. It is a milestone on the road toward comprehensive peace in our region.
This meeting was preceded by a trilateral Jordanian-American-Israeli meeting at which my brother, Crown Prince Hassan, represented myself and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres represented Israel. The trilateral working group was established under an agreement completed at that meeting hosted by President Clinton at the White House in October 1993.
Following my recent visit to the United States, in light of the status of negotiations, I decided to share with my people the realities affecting our search for peace. In a meeting with members of our parliament, I addressed the entire Jordanian Nation. I have been rewarded by their approval and support.
Their expression of confidence has always been the foremost consideration in my life. All of Jordan is here with me today.
We also remember today the three generations of gallant Jordanians and so many others who sacrificed themselves for the cause of Palestine. Every house in Jordan has sent a son to answer the Arab call. Many have not returned. Their sacrifice has made it possible for me to be here today.
My family has also paid a heavy price. My great grandfather, the leader of the Great Arab Revolt for Freedom, Independence and Unity, lies buried next to the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. I was by the side of my grandfather, King Abdullah, at the doors of Al Aqsa Mosque when he was martyred. He was a man of peace who gave his life for an ideal. I have pledged my life to fulfilling his dream. He too is here today.
In our meeting today I hope you will find a clear message to the American nation and to the world. We are together committed to work tirelessly to banish forever the abnormal conditions which have dominated our people's lives.
We want normality and humanity to become the prevailing order.
Although we have labored for so long under conditions of hostility, I am certain that we can see these conditions for what they are: Emblems of an unnatural and sinister state. We have all known the portents of this state: the fear of death, the silence of isolation. And we have all felt the fear that has mesmerized us, preventing us from moving forward to create together a bright future for the coming generations.
What we are witnessing today, God willing, is a progression from a state of war to a state of peace. These unique circumstances allow us to take bold steps.
Our meeting now represents a revolt against all that is unnatural. It is unnatural not to have direct and open meetings between our respective officials and their leaders, in order to grapple with all aspects of the conflict, and, God willing, to resolve them. It is unnatural not to wish to bridge this gulf, across which we have all paid a shattering toll in blood and tears; the waste of our youth and the grief of our forefathers. We have suffered this loss together and it will leave its impact on all of us far into the future.
The two Semitic peoples, the Arabs and the Jews, have endured bitter trials and tribulations during the journey of history. Let us resolve to end this suffering forever and to fulfill our responsibilities as leaders of our peoples, and our duty as human beings towards mankind.
I came before you today fully conscious of the need to secure a peace for all the children of Abraham. Our land is the birthplace of the divine faiths and the cradle of the heavenly messages to all humanity.
I also come before you today as a soldier who seeks to bear arms solely in the defense of his homeland. A man who understands the fears of his neighbors, and who wishes only to live in peace with them. A man who wishes to secure democracy, political pluralism and human rights for his nation.
I come before you today encouraged in the knowledge that the Prime Minister of Israel and his government have responded to the call for peace. They have recognized the Palestinian people and their rights, and are negotiating with their chosen leadership in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
For our part we will never forget Palestine: Not for a moment. We in Jordan were the first to shoulder our responsibility, and we were the most adversely affected by the legacy of the Palestinian tragedy.
And still our people in Jordan remain one united family, irrespective of their origins, sharing equally, free to choose their political future and destiny.
My religious faith demands that sovereignty over the holy places in Jerusalem reside with God and God alone. Dialogue between the faiths should be strengthened; religious sovereignty should be accorded to all believers of the three Abrahamic faiths, in accordance with their religions. In this way, Jerusalem will become the symbol of peace and its embodiment, as it must be for both Palestinians and Israelis when their negotiations determine the final status of Arab East Jerusalem.
I come before you today fully confident that progress will be made on the Syrian-Israeli and Lebanese-Israeli tracks of the peace process, and towards the achievement of comprehensive peace.
The state of war between Israel and Jordan is over. We have accepted UN Security Council Resolution 338, which calls for negotiations between the parties concerned, under appropriate auspices, to establish a just and durable peace in the Middle East.
We have accepted UN Security Council Resolution 242, which sought acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries, free from threats or acts of force.
I want to reaffirm, without any reservation, that we, together with the other parties concerned, have exercised our sovereign right to make peace. We are moving forward and tackling, one by one, all the problems listed in our common agenda. We have great faith in our joint progress towards the ultimate goal, the culmination of all our efforts, a Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty.
In this, we take courage from the words of God, in his holy book, the Qur'an:
"Then if they should be inclined to make peace, do thou incline towards it also, and put thy trust in Allah. Surely, it is He who is all-hearing, all-knowing. (Chapter 8, Verse 61)
I value the long friendship between Jordan and the United States, inherited from the era of my grandfather. I have sought over 34 years, since the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower, to ensure that it be honest and true.
It has been a friendship built on mutual respect and common interests. I am proud to remind you how we stood shoulder to shoulder during the long years of the cold war.
And now together we share a great hope: To establish a lasting peace in the Middle East.
We believe that an enduring partnership for cooperation and development between Jordan and the United States is essential to the realization of this dream.
We aim to build a better future under peace; to change the pattern of life for our people from despair and hopelessness to honor and dignity. We want all voices to be heard in shaping a new regional order.
If we are to achieve our aims, all of us must be given the opportunity and the tools to play our part in the historic endeavor. The creative drive of our region has been crippled by the conflict; the healing hand of the international community is now essential.
It should never be forgotten that peace resides ultimately not in the hands of governments, but in the hands of the people. For unless peace can be made real to the men, women and children of the Middle East, the best efforts of negotiators will come to naught.
I have come before you today to demonstrate that we are ready to open a new era in our relations with Israel. With the help and cooperation of this august body the peace we all want can be achieved.
With your help, I am certain that the imbalances between our societies can be remedied, and that the sources of frustration and enmity can be eradicated.
It is in this spirit and with these hopes that I share this platform with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
To all of you, and to the American people, I offer my thanks for your kindness, hospitality, and for all your support.
May God bless you all.
Wa assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.
Address To The Joint Session Of The U.S. Congress
July 26, 1994