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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hussein, Rabin Tell Congress of New Era

WASHINGTON -- King Hussein of Jordan declared to the U.S. Congress on Tuesday that "the state of war between Israel and Jordan is over," and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin proclaimed, "Let us today be victorious in ending war."


In unprecedented dual speeches by two world leaders to Congress, Hussein and Rabin both pushed for a broad Mideast peace after years of bitterness and war.


"We want normality and humanity to become the prevailing order," Hussein said, smiling broadly at the enthusiastic welcome from members of Congress, President Bill Clinton's Cabinet and diplomatic guests.


"What we are witnessing today, God willing, is a progression from a state of war to a state of peace," he said.


A day after signing a landmark accord to end the 46-year state of hostility with Israel, Hussein said the prospects for peace and security "are growing before our eyes." Hussein said his meeting in Washington with Rabin and Clinton "represents the beginning of a new phase in our common journey towards peace."


Rabin, in his speech, said, "We have come from Jerusalem to Washington because it is we who must say and we are here to say this is our goal: it's peace we desire."


Rabin, nodding to Hussein, said he carries good memories of the two countries' former good relations, but added, "Walls of hostilities have been built on the River Jordan which runs between us ... You in Amman and we in Jerusalem must bring down those barriers and walls."


Rabin introduced in the audience several Israelis involved in the long struggle between Arabs and Israelis, "people who never rejoiced in the victories of war, but whose hearts are now filled with joy in peace."


Hussein raised the touchy issue of holy sites in Jerusalem, saying, "My religious faith demands that sovereignty over the holy places in Jerusalem reside with God and God alone." But he called for interfaith dialogue and said that "religious sovereignty should be accorded to all believers."


"In this way," Hussein said, "Jerusalem will become the symbol of peace and its embodiment."


Both leaders were interrupted several times by applause and both received long standing ovations.


The rapturous reception marked a significant development for Hussein, a man who had been persona non grata in Washington for his support for Sadam Hussein during the 1990 Gulf War.


Launching a new era of peaceful relations at White House ceremonies Monday, the two leaders signed documents making it possible for their citizens to talk by telephone, fly over one another's territory and cooperate on fighting crime.


Rabin hailed the accord as "the closest thing to a treaty of peace."


Both spoke enthusiastically of prospects for normal relations, even while acknowledging that some thorny issues remain, including conflict over Palestinian refugees in Jordan, sharing of scarce water resources and determining a permanent border.