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White House Celebrates Israel’s 50th Anniversary

The stalled peace process has found its way into the White House’s celebration of Israel’s 50th anniversary.

At a celebration this week on the White House’s South Lawn, President Clinton praised the relationship between the United States and Israel.

“Let us in the United States say that we stand by Israel, always four-square for its security, always together in friendship,” Clinton said.

But Clinton also called on Israel’s leaders to fulfill the dream of its first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion — a lasting peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

At the same time, Clinton called on Israel to “fulfill its full promise by drawing on the courage and vision of its founders to achieve peace with security.”

In front of some 350 guests gathered under a tent, Clinton accepted an honorary degree from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Speakers, including Vice President Al Gore, fondly recalled the United States’ role in the founding of the Jewish state by paying tribute to President Truman, who became the first world leader to recognize the modern state of Israel only 11 minutes after Ben-Gurion declared independence.

The ceremony came as Clinton’s top Middle East envoys shuttled between Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Gore was scheduled to try his hand at diplomacy later this week when he visits Israel as the U.S. representative to the jubilee celebration.

But for a few moments on the White House lawn, America’s top leaders waxed philosophical.

“We gather here today not only to celebrate” the achievements of the state of Israel “but also to proclaim for all to hear that the dream of an Israel free, secure and at peace, in a world where the echoes of anti-Semitism are heard no more, will be a reality for all time.” Gore said.

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