Good evening, everybody. I’m very sorry that I can’t be with you in person in New York, but I wanted to extend my deepest gratitude from all of us here at the State Department. Twenty-one years ago, I stood on the White House lawn and witnessed the signing of the Oslo Accords. And I actually still remember looking into the eyes of the 46 young people who had just become the very first Seeds of Peace – Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, and American teenagers who brought hope to that historic day.
From that day forward, Seeds of Peace has brought together young people from all over the world to help make progress on some of the most intractable conflicts in history. And it has done so based on one simple truth, that treaties are negotiated by governments, but peace is made by people. Thanks to the work that you do, there are young people in places like Israel and the Palestinian territories who today express greater understanding, greater respect, greater trust, and greater empathy for one another. Not surprisingly, they also have a stronger commitment toward peace.
On the government level, peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians are on a pause for the time being. But I believe deeply that the struggle for peace is far from over, and the possibilities of peace still exist. The work that all of you are doing gives me great hope that we are continuing to make progress and can make progress every day.
This past year, we lost someone who had planted some of the most important seeds of peace in our time, Nelson Mandela. He taught the world so many lessons that I think of a special significance at this point in history. Madiba used to say, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” And so despite the seemingly insurmountable challenges that we face today, the naysayers are wrong to call peace an impossible goal. “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” But with hard work and difficult choices on the part of government leaders, and unflappable commitment from citizens like those involved in Seeds of Peace, I have no doubt that one day it will be done. I know it can be, and I thank you very much for your commitment to it.
Take care and God bless.
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