[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1997, Book I)]
[March 3, 1997]
[Pages 227-228]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks Prior to Discussions With Chairman Yasser Arafat of the 
Palestinian Authority and an Exchange With Reporters
March 3, 1997

    President Clinton. Good morning. I'm glad to welcome Chairman Arafat 
here. This is our sixth meeting, and I'm hopeful that it will be as 
productive as our previous ones have. You will remember the last time he 
was here, last fall, we were facing a very difficult situation with 
regard to Hebron, and because of the efforts that he made in working 
with the Israelis, an agreement was reached, a timetable was 
established, and we're moving forward. And I'm hopeful that we can keep 
doing that. This is also a difficult moment, but I think we can work 
through it and go forward, and I appreciate his coming to see me.

Middle East Peace Process

    Q. Mr. Chairman, are the new settlements designed by the Israelis to 
make the annexation a fait accompli of East Jerusalem?
    Chairman Arafat. Not only for Jerusalem but also for Bethlehem, 
because their target is to squeeze and to isolate Jerusalem but, at the 
same time, to build the settlements at the entrance of Bethlehem, to 
replace Har Homa, our capital--in the city of Bethlehem during the 2,000 
years of our celebration for our Jesus Christ.
    Q. What are you going to do about it?
    Chairman Arafat. I am sure that His Excellency will push for--to 
prevent it.
    Q. Mr. President, what do you think about the settlement?
    President Clinton. Well, what I think about the settlement is what I 
think about all these issues. You know, the important thing is for these 
people on both sides to be building confidence and working together. And 
so I would prefer the decision not have been made, because I don't think 
it builds confidence, I think it builds mistrust. And I wish that it had 
not been made.
    Q. Mr. President, the Jerusalem Embassy Act declares that the United 
States should recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Is Jerusalem 
Israel's capital, and does Israel have the right to build within the 
municipal boundaries of Jerusalem?
    President Clinton. Well, you know, I've been asked that question a 
lot, and I'm going to give you the same answer I always give. I do not 
believe, now that the parties have reached the agreement they reached in 
1993 and they have made this the final status issue, that the United 
States can serve any useful purpose by saying, or especially by doing, 
anything which seems to prejudge what should be a final status issue 
between the parties. I think that would be a big mistake.

1996 Campaign Financing

    Q. Vice President Gore, did you solicit money in the White House, 
Mr. Gore, during the campaign?
    Vice President Gore. I'll talk with you all later, not during this.
    President Clinton. Nice tie, Ron [Ron Fournier, Associated Press].
    Q. Thank you. Got that in Arkansas.

Storms in Arkansas

    Q. Do you want to say anything about the storms?
    Q. Are you going to Arkansas?
    President Clinton. I'm going down tomorrow. I'm very concerned about 
it. I talked over the weekend to--I talked to the Governor twice and the 
mayor of Little Rock and Representative Malone in Arkadelphia. You know, 
it's a bad situation. More people were killed in 18 hours than in the 12 
years I was Governor, I believe, combined, in the tornadoes.
    Q. Did you know anybody that was hurt or killed?
    President Clinton. Not to my knowledge, although I did recognize a 
couple of people on television last night who had lost their homes. One 
man said--did you see that--where he had given away a couch to the 
Goodwill Industries, and whoever got the couch had their home destroyed 
and the couch was blown back into his house. [Laughter]
    Q. You're going down----
    President Clinton. I recognized three or four people on television. 
But I'm going down there. I'll see tomorrow.

Chelsea Clinton's Birthday

    Q. You had a good birthday celebration?

[[Page 228]]

    President Clinton. Wonderful. Chelsea had a good birthday. New York 
was good.

Note: The President spoke at 10:12 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas; 
Mayor Jim Dailey of Little Rock, AR; and State Representative Percy 
Malone. A tape was not available for verification of the content of 
these remarks.