Thank you for such
a warm welcome. It is an honour to stand, as my father did,
before this historic institution. Allow me to thank you,
on behalf of all Jordanians.
Jordan and the United States have had
a long friendship. It is a special privilege to be here
in the year that the American Congress welcomes its first
woman speaker, and its first Muslim American member of Congress.
These milestones send a message around the world about the
America I know so well, a place where individuality is nurtured,
a place where hard work is rewarded, a place where achievement
is celebrated. The America I know so well believes that
opportunity and justice belong to all.
In my days in Massachusetts, I also learned
something of New England virtues. There wasn’t actually
a law against talking too much, but there was definitely
an attitude that you didn’t speak unless you could
improve on silence.
Today, I must speak; I cannot be silent.
I must speak about a cause that is urgent
for your people and for mine. I must speak about peace in
the Middle East. I must speak about peace replacing the
division, war and conflict that have brought such disaster
for the region and for the world.
This was the cause that brought my father,
King Hussein, here in 1994. With Israeli Prime Minister
Yitzhak Rabin beside him, he spoke of a new vision for the
Middle East. Their courageous work for peace received bipartisan
support from your leaders. And there was tremendous hope
for a new era. There was tremendous hope that people would
be brought together. There was tremendous hope that a final
and comprehensive settlement of all the issues would be
Thirteen years later, that work is still
not completed. And until it is, we are all at risk. We are
all at risk of being victims of further violence resulting
from ideologies of terror and hatred. It is our greatest
and most urgent duty to prevent such dangers to our region,
to your country and to the world. The choice is ours: An
open world full of promise, progress and justice for all;
or a closed world of divided peoples, fear and unfulfilled
dreams. Nothing impacts this choice more than the future
of peace in the Middle East.
I come to you today at a rare, and indeed
historic, moment of opportunity, when there is a new international
will to end the catastrophe. And I believe that America,
with its enduring values, its moral responsibility, and
yes, its unprecedented power, must play the central role.
Some may say: “Peace is difficult,
we can live with the status quo.” But, my friends,
violent killings are taking place as part of this status
quo. Palestinians and Israelis are not the only victims.
We saw the violence ricochet into destruction in Lebanon
last summer. And people around the world have been the victims
of terrorists and extremists, who use the grievances of
this conflict to legitimise and encourage acts of violence.
Americans and Jordanians and others have suffered and survived
terrorist attacks. In this room, there are representatives
of American families and Jordanian families who have lost
loved ones. Thousands of people have paid the highest price,
the loss of their life. Thousands more continue to pay this
terrible price, for their loved ones will never return.
Are we going to let these thousands of lives be taken in
vain? Has it become acceptable to lose that most basic of
human rights? The right to live?
The status quo is also pulling the region
and the world towards greater danger. As public confidence
in the peace process has dropped, the cycle of crises is
spinning faster, and with greater potential for destruction.
Changing military doctrine and weaponry pose new dangers.
Increasing numbers of external actors are intervening with
their own strategic agendas, raising new dangers of proliferation
and crisis. These are groups that seek even more division:
Faith against faith, nation against nation, community against
community. Any further erosion in the situation would be
serious for the future of moderation and coexistence, in
the region and beyond. Have we all lost the will to live
together in peace celebrating one another’s strengths
Some may say: “But there are other,
urgent challenges.” How can there be anything more
urgent than the restoration of a world where all people,
not only some people, all people have the opportunity to
live peacefully? This is not only a moral imperative, it
is essential to the future of our world, because long-term,
violent crisis is the enemy of all global prosperity and
Certainly, our era faces critical issues.
There is great public concern here, just as in our region,
about the conflict in Iraq. The entire international community
has vital decisions to make about the path forward, and
how to ensure Iraq’s security, unity and future. But
we cannot lose sight of a profound reality. The wellspring
of regional division, the source of resentment and frustration
far beyond, is the denial of justice and peace in Palestine.
There are those who say: “It’s
not our business.” But this Congress knows there are
no bystanders in the 21st century, there are no curious
onlookers, there is no one who is not affected by the division
and hatred that is present in our world.
Some will say: “This is not the
core issue in the Middle East.” I come here today
as your friend to tell you that this is the core issue.
And this core issue is not only producing severe consequences
for our region, it is producing severe consequences for
The security of all nations and the stability
of our global economy are directly affected by the Middle
East conflict. Across oceans, the conflict has estranged
societies that should be friends. I meet Muslims thousands
of miles away who have a deep, personal response to the
suffering of the Palestinian people. They want to know how
it is, that ordinary Palestinians are still without rights
and without a country. They ask whether the West really
means what it says about equality and respect, and universal
Yes, my friends, today I must speak. I
cannot be silent.
Sixty years of Palestinian dispossession,
40 years under occupation, a stop-and-go peace process,
all this has left a bitter legacy of disappointment and
despair, on all sides. It is time to create a new and different
legacy, one that begins right now; one that can set a positive
tone for the American and Middle East relationship; one
that can restore hope to our region’s people, to your
people, and to the people of this precious world. Nothing
can achieve that more effectively, nothing can assert America’s
moral vision more clearly, nothing can reach and teach the
world’s youth more directly, than your leadership
in a peace process that delivers results not next year,
not in five years, but this year.
How do we get there? Not by a solution
imposed by one side. A lasting peace can only be built on
understanding, agreement and compromise.
It begins with courage and vision. We,
all of us, must take risks for peace. The Arab states recognised
that reality in 2002, when we unanimously approved the Arab
Peace Initiative. It puts forward a path for both sides,
to achieve what people want and need: A collective peace
treaty with Israel and normal relations with every Arab
state, collective security guarantees for all the countries
of the region, including Israel, an end to the conflict,
a dream every Israeli citizen has longed for since the creation
of Israel, and an agreed solution to the refugee problem,
a withdrawal from Arab territories occupied since 1967,
and a sovereign, viable and independent Palestine.
The commitment we made in the Arab Peace
Initiative is real. And our states are involved in ongoing
efforts to advance a fair, just and comprehensive peace.
His Majesty King Abdullah Ben Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia
initiated the 2002 proposal; today, he continues to rally
international support. Momentum is also building among Muslim
countries outside the Arab world. Ten days ago, in Islamabad,
the foreign ministers of key Muslim states met. They came
together to assure Palestinians and Israelis that they are
not alone, that we back their effort to make and build peace.
The goal must be a peace in which all
sides gain. It must be anchored in security and opportunity
It must be a peace that will free young
Palestinians to focus on a future of progress and prosperity.
It must be a peace that makes Israel a
part of the neighbourhood, a neighbourhood that extends
from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, across the breadth
of the southern Mediterranean, to the coast of the Indian
It must be a peace that enables the entire
region to look forward with excitement and hope, putting
its resources into productive growth, partnering across
borders to advance development, finding opportunities, and
solving common challenges.
This goal is visionary, but my friends,
it is attainable. History shows that longtime adversaries
can define new relationships of peace and cooperation. The
groundwork for a comprehensive, final settlement is already
in place. At Taba, as in the Geneva accords, the parties
have outlined the parameters of the solution.
But we need all hands on deck. The international
community, especially the United States, must be engaged
in moving the process forward to achieve real results. Above
all, we must make our process serve our purpose. We must
achieve an agreed solution to the conflict.
Madam speaker, Mr. vice president, honourable
Your responsibility today is paramount.
Your potential to help Palestinians and Israelis find peace
is unrivalled. This is because the people of the region
still regard the United States as the key to peace, the
one country most capable of bringing the two sides closer
together, holding them accountable and making a just settlement
Time after time, there has been progress
towards peace when Americans have actively engaged. Camp
David, Madrid, Wye River: Nearly every breakthrough was
accomplished when America was determined to help the parties
On behalf of all those who seek and strive
for peace in my part of the world, I ask you now to exert
that leadership once again. We ask you to join with us in
an historic effort of courage and vision. We ask you to
hear our call, to honour the spirit of King Hussein and
Yitzhak Rabin, and help fulfil the aspirations of Palestinians
and Israelis to live in peace today.
Let me reaffirm that Jordan is committed
to playing a positive role in the peace process. It is part
of our larger commitment to global coexistence and progress.
Ours is an Islamic country with a proud record of diversity,
moderation and shared respect.
Allow me to say, we thank the Congress
and the administration for supporting Jordan’s progress
and development. I deeply value the partnership between
our peoples, and the contributions of so many Americans
to the future of our country.
“A decent respect for the
rights and dignity of all nations, large and small.”
That’s how President Roosevelt — the great FDR
— described the basis of American foreign policy.
He pledged American support for the four freedoms, freedom
from fear, freedom from want, freedom of speech and freedom
of religion, everywhere in the world.
The Four Freedoms speech was given right
here, before Congress. And that’s entirely fitting.
Because it is here in the People’s House, that the
voices and values of America have made hope real for so
Today, the people of the Middle East are
searching for these four freedoms. Today, the people of
the Middle East are searching for new hope, hope for a future
of prosperity and peace. We have seen the danger and destruction
of violence, hatred and injustice. But we have also seen
what people can achieve when they are empowered, when they
break down walls, when they commit to the future. And we
know that Middle East peace can be a global beginning, creating
new possibilities for our region and the entire world.
We look to you to play a historic role.
Eleven American presidents and 30 American congresses have
already faced this ongoing crisis. For not the future generation,
but the generation alive today, let us say together: No
more! Let us say together: Let’s solve this! Let us
say together: Yes, we will achieve this!
No Palestinian father should be helpless
to feed his family and build a future for his sons and daughters.
No Israeli mother should fear when her child boards a bus.
Not one more generation should grow up thinking that violence
and conflict are the norm.
As Roosevelt also said: “The justice
of morality must and will win in the end.” But he
knew that it was up to responsible nations to stand up for
justice when injustice threatens.
This is our challenge as well. And we
must not leave it to another generation to meet this challenge.
Thirteen years ago, my father was here
to talk about his hopes for peace. Today, we are talking
about a promise that is within our reach.
We can wait no longer and that is why
I am here before you. We must work together to restore Palestine,
a nation in despair and without hope. We must work together
to restore peace, hope and opportunity to the Palestinian
people. And in so doing, we will begin a process of building
peace, not only throughout the region, but throughout the
world. How much more bloodshed and how many more lives will
it cost for this grave situation to be resolved?
I say: No more bloodshed and no more lives
The young boy, travelling to school with
his brother in Palestine, let him have a life of peace.
The mother, watching with fear as her
children board a bus in Israel, let her have a life of peace.
The father in Lebanon, working hard to
provide an education for his children, let him have a life
The little girl, born in Iraq, with her
wide eyes full of wonder, let her have a life of peace.
The family, together eating their evening
meal, in Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe,
Australia and the Middle East, let them all have a life
Today my friends, we must speak; we cannot
The next time a Jordanian, a Palestinian,
or an Israeli comes before you, let it be to say: Thank
you for helping peace become a reality.