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White House Statement on the President's Discussions with Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin

June 28, 1988

The President, the Vice President, and other top officials have met with Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin over the past 2 days. The President noted that Israel and the United States will soon sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the joint development of an antitactical ballistic missile (ATBM) which will be able to deal with ballistic missile threats. The U.S. contribution will be approximately 80 percent and that of Israel 20 percent. This joint development is an outgrowth of research on SDI.

The President expressed his concern about ominous new military developments in the region. In particular, he called attention to the proliferation of ballistic missiles and chemical capabilities. He observed that such capabilities could change the military situation, making any future war far more costly, difficult to control, and dangerous. Both the President and Vice President emphasized in their meetings with Defense Minister Rabin the need for international efforts to stop this proliferation. They also stressed that these trends put a premium both on continuing U.S.-Israeli defense cooperation and energetically working for peace in the area.

The President paid tribute to what Defense Minister Rabin has done to strengthen Israeli capability for self-defense. Defense Minister Rabin has also done much to develop our strategic partnership and give it substance. He has recognized realistically what Israel can develop on its own and in partnership with the United States.

The President and Vice President reaffirmed America's commitment to Israel's security, noting that Israel could never be fully secure without peace. Realism and a willingness to nurture, rather than reject, possible opportunities for peace are essential, as is a climate that makes negotiations possible. While Israel should not be expected to make concessions under the threat of violence, the preservation of order in the territories must neither provide a justification for civilian lawlessness nor act as an excuse for avoiding political discourse with the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza. Neither should violence nor controls on violence become ends in themselves, making a political solution more difficult.