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Sunday, June 06, 2004

I have a new (and retrospective) appreciation for Ronald Reagan

No Palestinian State, No return to '67 borders, Undivided Jerusalem

Address to the Nation on United States Policy for Peace in the Middle East
September 1, 1982
My fellow Americans:

Today has been a day that should make us proud. It marked the end of the successful evacuation of PLO from Beirut, Lebanon. This peaceful step could never have been taken without the good offices of the United States and especially the truly heroic work of a great American diplomat, Ambassador Philip Habib.


When our administration assumed office in January of 1981, I decided that the general framework for our Middle East policy should follow the broad guidelines laid down by my predecessors.


The time has come for a new realism on the part of all the peoples of the Middle East. The State of Israel is an accomplished fact; it deserves unchallenged legitimacy within the community of nations. But Israel's legitimacy has thus far been recognized by too few countries and has been denied by every Arab State except Egypt. Israel exists; it has a right to exist in peace behind secure and defensible borders; and it has a right to demand of its neighbors that they recognize those facts.

I have personally followed and supported Israel's heroic struggle for
survival, ever since the founding of the State of Israel 34 years ago. In the pre-1967 borders Israel was barely 10 miles wide at its narrowest point. The bulk of Israel's population lived within artillery range of hostile Arab armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again.


Beyond the transition period, as we look to the future of the West Bank and Gaza, it is clear to me that peace cannot be achieved by the formation of an independent Palestinian state in those territories, nor is it achievable on the basis of Israeli sovereignty or permanent control over the West Bank and Gaza. So, the United States will not support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, and we will not support annexation or permanent control by Israel.


Finally, we remain convinced that Jerusalem must remain undivided, but its final status should be decided through negotiation.


Tonight, on the eve of what can be a dawning of new hope for the people of the troubled Middle East -- and for all the world's people who dream of a just and peaceful future -- I ask you, my fellow Americans, for your support and your prayers in this great undertaking.

Thank you, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 6 p.m. from the studios of KNBC - TV in Burbank, Calif. The address was broadcast live on nationwide radio and television.

My thanks to IMRA.