SPEECH BY PRESIDENT OF THE PALESTINIAN NATIONAL AUTHORITY, H.E. MAHMOUD ABBAS
I wish to express my appreciation for your kind invitation, that provided me the honour to address this Council meeting of the Socialist International, this prestigious political organization comprised of political parties with a long history of brilliant achievements, parties and movements from all continents including our Fatah movement as a member party.
I realize, while addressing this gathering of world leaders, that I am speaking to leaders who are quite aware of our problems and shoulder great responsibilities for guaranteeing World Peace and Security, especially in the most inflamed and dangerous region - the Middle East.
I will be direct and speak about the crux of the matter, the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, the main root of the Middle-East Crisis.
A fact no one can deny is the historic injustice that has been inflicted upon the Palestinian people. Another fact is that we have, for many years, dealt realistically with the issue of claiming our national rights: thus our Palestinian National Councils have adopted since 1974 , the principle of solving the conflict on the basis of the Two-States solution.
I would like to express our deepest appreciation for the historic role of many leaders of the Socialist International as early as the 70’s and 80’s of the last century, when they encouraged and supported the early encounters between us and between the peace-oriented and moderate element in Israel.
In this occasion, I would like to reiterate before you today my commitment to a historic reconciliation that will lead to the establishment of the two States solution, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The foundation for progress towards a solution lies in the principle of partnership, agreement on the legal terms of reference and commitment to agreements signed, so we can achieve solutions to the problems stemming from decades of bloody and bitter conflict, a partnership that takes into account the legitimate concerns of the other side, and paves the way to a new and different future for both Israelis and Palestinians.
What does Israel need more than security within its borders? What do Palestinians need more than a Palestinian State within the 1967 borders? i.e. the West-Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, with a just and agreed upon solution to the Palestinian refugee problem in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194.
Do we need another 40 years, to implement U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 adopted in 1967?
The whole world accepts the principle of land for peace. All international initiatives were based on this principle, especially President Bush’s vision of two States, and ending the Israeli occupation that began in 1967, but this is also the case of the Arab Peace Initiative which calls for Israel’s withdrawal from Arab and Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, in exchange for normalization of relations between the Arab States and Israel. This initiative was adopted by the Beirut Arab summit of 2002, and was again adopted in the Riyadh Arab Summit of 2007. The Arab Peace initiative was also adopted by the Organization of Islamic Countries, which means that 57 Arab and Muslim countries will normalize their relations with Israel, and this will constitute a severe blow to the forces of extremism and terrorism.
The implementation of the Arab Peace initiative will enable Israel to live in an environment of peace, instead of the current environment of hate and hostility.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to be candid with you about the recent developments in Palestine, namely the bloody Coup-d’Etat carried out by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a Coup-d’Etat against Palestinian legitimacy, which was accompanied by a series of crimes, murders and aggression against everything Palestinians stand for.
In the face of this Coup-d’Etat I have exercised my constitutional powers :
1. I Dismissed the Government
2. I Declared a State of Emergency.
3. I Formed a new Government composed of Palestinian Independent personalities to take the lead in this transitional period. Since the result of the Legislative Council Elections in January 2006, I have tried my best to respect their outcome. But at the same time democracy does not mean a Coup-d’Etat violating commitments and previous agreements which we signed with Israel or with the International Community .
This is what democracy is all about, this is what International Law is about, I have tried my best, in accordance with my constitutional powers, to get the Palestinian Government to commit itself to my political program, especially since negotiations with Israel and agreements reached with other states fall under the full jurisdiction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
In February, with the help of our brothers in Saudia-Arabia, we achieved the Mecca Agreement, which Hamas annulled by its recent coup-d’Etat.
It should be noted that, in spite of the very harmful consequences of this bloody Coup-d’Etat, we remain committed to achieve a just peace through negotiations, and we remain determined to build a democratic Palestinian State, with accountable institutions, that will restore law and order and free our people from poverty, starvation and backwardness.
I reiterate to you, dear friends, that we will not retract from our program. I am confident in your continued support in all spheres, in order to defeat the objectives of the putschists, especially the establishment of a realm of obscurantism, extremism and isolation.
We need your assistance in order to establish a democratic flourishing State which will contribute to the cultural enlightenment in the whole region.
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen
The bloody coup-d’Etat and the temporary control of Hamas over the Gaza Strip should not be used as pretext to freeze the efforts being exerted to revive the peace process. This is what all the extremist forces from both sides tried to achieve over the years. This was the goal of those who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin.
What is needed at this stage is to grasp the lessons of previous experiences, first and foremost to ensure the participation of the International Community in a meaningful peace process, with a specific role to facilitate, guarantee and safeguard any agreement.
Along with my Government headed by Dr. Salam Fayyad, I will give full attention to assist and aid our people in the Gaza Strip, and provide them with all their humanitarian needs. Have no doubt, we are also determined to isolate the Coup-d’Etat, delegitimize all militias, and enforce Law and Order over all parts of the Palestinian territory.
We will not hesitate to carry out all the necessary steps that will consolidate democracy. A few days ago the Palestine Central Council, the highest Palestinian Authority between the sessions of the Palestine National Council, met and recommended, among other things, preparations for early Presidential and Legislative Elections.
We count on your assistance for this democratic response to the choice of the putschists. We expect the participation of your parties and countries in observing these proposed elections.
Our road is difficult and thorny. There are those in our region who support those who staged the Coup-d’Etat with the objective of hindering any progress in our region towards balanced and genuine solutions to our problems.
We should not ignore the role of Israeli occupation in planting the seeds of extremism and chaos in our region. This policy expresses itself through settlement activities, the construction of the apartheid wall, the refusal to release more than ten thousand prisoners, some of whom have spent more than 25 years in Israeli jails.
Add to this the Israeli refusal to resume the Permanent Status negotiations, the continuation of the siege through the erection of more than 400 roadblocks, thus undermining the Palestinian economy, which has led to the creation of an atmosphere favourable to the growth of extremist elements within our society.
We pursue a different future for our people and for all people in the Middle-East. We need a courageous leadership in the region so we can stand firmly in the face of extremism and chaos. This will not be realized without a democratic system capable of confronting disorder and insecurity and to establish accountable institutions that will be supported by the public opinion in our countries.
First and foremost, we need to tackle the real issues of the people of the Middle-East: the Palestine problem, poverty, the unequal distribution of wealth, widening social discrepancies; we need to achieve equality, to enhance and promote the status of woman, overcome the ethic and religious conflicts, stop the injustices against minorities, spread education and a culture of enlightenment and modernization, confront the suppression of rights and liberties of people, parties and all those who contribute to the creation of democracy.
The very painful situation in Palestine and Iraq, which Palestinian refugees are paying with their lives, and the recent developments in our refugee camps in Lebanon where the Lebanese Army, with our full support, is trying to uproot the militias and gangsters who are exploiting the name of Palestine, and undermining security, stability in Lebanon and spreading chaos in our refugee camps, demonstrate clearly that the key to solving the problems of the Middle-East is a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
I am fully confident that if the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is solved, the whole scene in the Middle–East will change, we will witness economic growth, cooperation, open borders, and the possibly a common economic market. This is what encourages me to continue seeking to open negotiations on Permanent Status issues.
I call upon you, I call upon the whole world to support the resumption of Permanent Status negotiations, so that we can start negotiating with Israel Jerusalem, Borders, Settlements, Refugees, Water, and other agreed upon issues.
I do realize the important role of the Socialist International in our endeavor to move the Peace Process forward on all tracks, especially the Palestinian-Israeli track.
Before you, I renew my message to Israeli people, our hands are extended to you in order to achieve a just and comprehensive peace, so we can achieve a secure future for our children and yours.
Thank you again for your kind invitation and I wish our meeting all success.