bill clinton rabin memorial 248.88 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
Former US President Bill Clinton, whose energetic efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal collapsed, urged both sides Saturday to end their decades-old conflict, saying they cannot escape their common future.
"In the last 14 years, not a single week has gone by that I did not think of [former prime minister] Yitzhak Rabin and miss him terribly," Clinton said. "Nor has a single week gone by in which I have not reaffirmed my conviction that had he not lost his life on that terrible November night, within three years we would have had a comprehensive agreement for peace in the Middle East."
Clinton spoke Saturday to a VIP gathering at the Yitzhak Rabin Center, a memorial to the former premier who was gunned down in November 1995 by Yigal Amir.
"We are either going to hurt each other or we are going to help each other," he said of Israel and the Palestinians. "Divorce is not an option."
While president, Clinton had a close personal involvement in Mideast peacemaking. He presided over the signing of the historic first agreement between Israel and the Palestinians in 1993, and seven years later, he brought the two sides closer than ever before to a final deal.
But talks broke down in late 2000, and soon after, tensions ignited into years of deadly fighting.
The former US president remains extremely popular in Israel because he is perceived as being a genuine friend.
Clinton's own emotional last words to Rabin at his funeral - "Shalom haver," Hebrew for "Goodbye, friend" - have been seared into the Israeli collective consciousness.