A day following the signing of the Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles, the previous arrangement whereby the Palestinians were part of the Palestinian-Jordanian delegation, in effect lapsed. It now became important for Israel and Jordan to define the parameters on which they would negotiate in the future. The common agenda was achieved in direct negotiations between Israel and Jordan and it details and summarizes the principles which would guide the two countries in the coming negotiations. At a State Department ceremony, the speakers were Secretary of State Christopher; Ambassador Viktor Posuvaluk, director of the African and Middle Eastern department of the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Elyakini Rubinstein, head of the Israeli delegation to the joint Jordanian-Palestinian talks; and Ambassador Fayez Tarawneh, head of the Jordanian delegation. Text of the remarks and Common Agenda follows:
Secretary Christopher: This is really an extraordinary week for the Middle East peace process. Yesterday, we witnessed the historic signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles, an event that has forever altered the contours and chemistry of the entire region. As President Clinton said yesterday when he spoke of the children of the Middle East, "Now we can give them a chance to know a season of peace."
Yesterday, I expressed the hope that we could see progress toward a comprehensive peace settlement between Israel and all of her Arab neighbors. Today, we take a very important step toward that very comprehensive peace with the initialing of the Israeli-Jordanian substantive agenda.
I have here with me today Mr. Viktor Posuvaluk, director of the African and Middle East Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry. I am very pleased that you are here with me today, Viktor. Together we are delighted to introduce the heads of the Jordanian and Israeli negotiating teams: Ambassador Tarawneh of Jordan here on my right; and Mr. Eli Rubinstein and his deputy, Mr. Eitan Bentsur, here on my left.
I don't think that anyone who has been working on these negotiations would regard it amiss for me to pay special tribute to Eli Rubinstein, who has devoted his life to the problem of the peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors since before Camp David and who is one of the leading experts on this subject. We are all in awe of his tireless work on this track as well as on the other tracks.
I offer my congratulations to each and every member of these delegations. You have created a substantive framework to negotiate, and we hope to resolve vital issues between Israel and Jordan - issues such as security, territory, refugees and displaced persons, natural resources, and economic cooperation. This framework is a signpost for the progress that we hope and expect will soon come.
I want to say again, as I said yesterday, that the United States will spare no effort in seeking peace throughout the Middle East. We remain a full partner in the search for peace. We will do all we can to facilitate these negotiations, just as we are for the negotiations on the other track.
We will be working with these parties, as well as with the Israeli-Syrian parties and the Israeli-Lebanese parties, We believe today's agenda, which has been finalized, will give a strong impetus - a strong momentum - to the other negotiations as well as to this negotiation itself.
We all share the objective of a just, comprehensive, and lasting peace for the Middle East. This week, with yesterday's action and now today's action, we have set a new direction toward a better future for the region. Today's signing moves us a long step down the road toward peace. And news this morning of Prime Minister Rabin's visit to Morocco is yet another sign of the momentum that is building throughout the Middle East on this peace process. It will be a difficult road, but we are taking important steps day by day. And it's a great pleasure for me to join in these very important events.
Ambassador Posuvaluk: Mr. Secretary of State, distinguished heads of delegations, ladies and gentlemen: It gives me special pleasure to represent, here, the Russian cosponsor. The importance of the present ceremony is outstanding in itself. Agreement on a formal agenda for negotiations gives a long-awaited stimulus for peace between Jordan and Israel, the way to which started in Madrid. This document practically constitutes a full-fledged program for building peace between your countries, as it comprises central components of good, neighborly relations.
Co-sponsors of the peace process are also satisfied with the fact that dialogue between Israel and Jordan and Israel and the Palestinians has borne fruit almost simultaneously. Note in this symbolic achievement, we would like to stress that the success reached yesterday and today has to be supported as soon as possible by progress on all negotiating tracks. Only then would it be possible to provide for a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Arabs and the Israelis have paid dearly for peace, but today at last peace is becoming a reality. Naturally, we understand that your breakthrough is but the first step on a long and difficult journey. There is formidable work ahead in order to establish full-scale cooperation, security, and prosperity in the region and to work out and implement all necessary agreements.
Russia, being your close neighbor and reliable partner, is prepared to continue traveling along this road together with you, bearing its share of responsibility as a great power, as a friend of your countries, and - together with our host, the United States - as a co-sponsor of the peace process. Thank you.
Mr. Rubinstein: Mr. Secretary and Mr, Posuvaluk; my colleague and friend Ambassador Tarawneh of Jordan; friend, neighbor, and colleague Ambassador Bentsur; members of our two delegations; members of the U.S. and Russian Administrations; ladies and gentlemen: Today, we are making yet another step in the long road to peace between Israel and Jordan within the joint effort, embodied in the Madrid formula, toward a comprehensive peace.
The direct negotiations between Israel and Jordan have achieved this Common Agenda, which, obviously, is more than a list of items to be negotiated. It details and summarizes the principles which will guide us in the coming negotiations.
We have great respect for Jordan, for His Majesty the King, and for the government's efforts toward democratization. We happen to know well Prime Minister Majali, who preceded Dr. Tarawneh as head of the delegation and with whom this agenda was initially negotiated. We wish him well. The Israeli-Jordanian relationship will continue to constitute a major cornerstone in the great enterprise of peace; it has ever been so by the nature of geography and history. Attention should be paid to nurturing it and strengthening it. We should vigorously work credibly and reliably to make the dream - culminating in a treaty of peace - come true.
Indeed, the good and businesslike atmosphere which has characterized our negotiations so far, including many moments of good humor, should serve to bring our mission to its final end beyond today's milestone. Our negotiation must be widened to cover the concerns and hopes of our peoples, not only politically but also economically and technologically - developing areas which we've already started to explore as a part of our vision.
On this occasion, we should reflect for a moment on the many victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Unfortunately, these sad occurrences are not over. The legacy to all of us is to continue the search for peace and security.
Let me take this opportunity to thank the members of both our delegations for their hard work. I would like to thank Ambassador Bentsur for leading our delegation during this session. We all are grateful to our host, the secretary of state - and thank you for your personal kind words and to the U.S. peace team for their generous assistance and hospitality. We also thank the Russian representatives for their support.
Tomorrow will mark the beginning of the new year in our calendar. The next days are marked as the "Days of Awe," in which the Almighty examines the deeds of the individual as well as states. The accountability commands us to show there are responsibilities. (Speaks in Hebrew). Thank you very much.
Ambassdor Trawaneh: Secretary Christopher, Ambassador Posuvaluk, Ambassador Rubinstein, Ambassador Bentsur, Dr. Muasher, ladies and gentlemen: Jordan and Israel have agreed on a formal agenda to serve as a basis for negotiations on the Jordanian-Israeli track of the bilateral Middle East peace talks. The agenda lists the items and issues to be discussed by the two sides, calling for the achievement of a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace between the Arab states, the Palestinians, and Israel based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 339 in all their aspects.
The agenda also addresses Jordan's water rights, the achievement of a just political solution to the problem of refugees according to international law, and a settlement of the borders between the two countries with reference to the boundary definition under the mandate. The agenda also includes issues of future regional economic cooperation to be discussed.
We hope this first step will be translated through the substantive and lengthy negotiations that will follow into an agreement based on comprehensive peace that will positively transform the lives of all peoples of the area. We, in Jordan, look for a global security arrangement that goes beyond the traditional definition of military security to one that provides for economic security and well-being through upgrading the quality of life for the peoples in the area.
The historic moment that we witnessed yesterday between the Palestinians and the Israelis gave us faith that progress in the ongoing peace process in achievable. It is our hope that similar progress will be realized on all tracks in the near future.
Allow me, Mr. Secretary, to express the gratitude and the appreciation of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to you and to all your colleagues who have worked diligently to make this possible. I also would like to extend similar gratitude and appreciation to the Russian Government for its dedicated efforts and support. Thank you very much.