Fifteen days ago, I set out from Jerusalem, the heart of the
Jewish people, on a mission of peace in Camp David.
In the name of millions of citizens raising their eyes in hope
and in prayer, I embarked to try and complete the task begun by
the late Menachem Begin, and for which the late Yitzhak Rabin
gave his life. In your name, I set out to bring peace and hope to
our children and to put an end to the 100 year-old conflict
between us and our Palestinian neighbors.
I embarked to try and strengthen Jerusalem, our capital, to
enlarge and buttress it for generations to come with a firm
I embarked to try and ensure that a majority of the settlers in
Judea and Samaria would for the first time live under Israeli
sovereignty. I embarked in the knowledge that there cannot be
peace at any price, but also that there cannot be peace without
paying a price - a painful, difficult and heartbreaking price.
Today I return from Camp David, and can look into the millions of
eyes and say with regret: We have not yet succeeded. We did not
succeed because we did not find a partner prepared to make
decisions on all issues. We did not succeed because our
Palestinian neighbors have not yet internalized the fact that in
order to achieve peace, each side has to give up some of their
dreams; to give, not only to demand.
I look into the millions of eyes in whose name we embarked on
this mission, and say: We did everything we could. We turned
every stone, we exhausted every possibility to bring an end to
the conflict and a secure future for Israel. And we continue to
Today the entire world knows that Israel desires peace. Today the
entire world knows that we conducted negotiations willingly and
I wish to thanks my colleagues, Ministers Amnon Lipkin-Shahak,
Shlomo Ben-Ami and Dan Meridor, and all the members of the
delegation, for the days and nights of difficult deliberations
undertaken with a weighty sense of responsibilty for the future
of Israel, for their joint efforts, for the friendship they
We conducted difficult negotiations; we were prepared to pay a
heavy price. But we knew that on three things we could not
compromise: the security of Israel, the sacred values of Israel,
and the unity of the Israeli people. Let every Israeli and every
neighbor know that there are things that are not negotiable. And
if, God forbid, we will be faced with a choice of conceding or
fighting for them, the choice will be clear to each and every one
I, too, am disappointed today, as are many Israelis. I truly
lament the loss of a tremendous opportunity which was so near,
yet remains still far. In the name of the millions of eyes still
gazing with hope and prayer, I promise not to despair, not to
tire, not to cease to pursue peace.
To my brothers, the pioneering settlers in Judea, Samaria and
Gaza, to our brothers in the Jordan Valley, to all of you I say
today: My heart is with you in your pain. Your suffering is part
of the path to the redemption of the land of Israel.
Throughout most of my life I fought alongside my brothers for the
security of Israel. I will not let anyone harm it or weaken it.
To our neighbors, the Palestinians, I say today: We do not seek
conflict. But if any of you should dare to put us to the test, we
will stand together, strong and determined, convinced in the
justness of our cause in the face of any challenge, and we shall
The road to peace is strewn with ups and downs, achievements and
crises. We may still face difficult moments. But the hope of
peace has not been extinguished - and it will come. Until then,
we will stand united, in knowledge of our strength and the
justness of our cause, ready to extend our hand in peace. Sure of
our strength, we shall stride forward, with the prayer of
generations in our hearts: "The Lord shall give strength to His
people, the Lord shall bless His people with peace."