Transcript: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 27, 2012
Transcribed and edited by Jenny Jiang based on English translations provided by the United Nations.
Transcript of remarks by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 27, 2012:
I wish to begin by extending appreciation to the heads of all delegations who in their statements to this assembly have stressed the urgency for progress towards the realization of a just peace in our region that allows for the fulfillment by the Palestinian of their inalienable and national rights.
Ladies and gentlemen, developments over the past year have confirmed what we have persistently drawn attention to and warned of – the catastrophic danger of the racist secular colonization of our country.
During the past months, attacks by terrorists – militias of Israeli settlers – have become a daily reality with at least 535 attacks perpetrated since the beginning of this year.
We are facing relentless waves of attacks against our people, our mosques, churches, and monasteries and our homes and schools.
They are unleashing their venom against our trees, fields, crops, and properties, and our people have become fixed targets for acts of killing and abuse with the complete collusion of the occupying forces and the Israeli government.
The escalation of settler attacks should not surprise anyone for it is the inherent by-product of the continuation of occupation and a government policy that deliberately fosters settlements and settlers and deems their satisfaction to be its absolute priority.
And it is the inherent by-product of the racist climate fueled by a culture of incitement in the Israeli curriculum and extremist opinions, which are rife with hatred and rooted in a series of discriminatory laws created and enacted over the years against the Palestinian people as well as by the security apparatus and courts which provide excuse for settlers’ crimes and for their accelerated release should one of them happen to be arrested, and by officials and military commissions of inquiry which fabricate excuses for soldiers who have committed what are clearly considered war crimes and perpetrated acts of murder, torture and abuse of peaceful civilians.
Over the past year since the convening of the General Assembly’s previous session, the occupying powers persisted with their settlement campaigns focusing on Jerusalem and its environs. It is a campaign clearly and deliberately aimed at altering the city’s historic character and the glorious image of the holy city etched in the minds of mankind. It is a campaign of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people via the demolition of their homes and prevention of their construction, revocation of residency rights, the denial of basic services, especially with regard to the construction of schools, the closure of institutions and the impoverishment of Jerusalem’s community via a siege behind walls and checkpoints choking the city and preventing millions of Palestinians from freely accessing its mosques, churches, schools, hospitals and market.
The occupying power has also continued its construction and expansion of settlements in different areas throughout the West Bank and continued its suffocating blockade as well as brazen attacks against our people in the Gaza Strip, who to this day continues to suffer from the disastrous impact of the destructive war of aggression committed against them years ago.
Nearly 5,000 Palestinians also remain captive as prisoners and detainees of conscience in Israeli jails. We call on the international community to compel the government of Israel to respect the Geneva Conventions, to investigate the conditions of the detention of the Palestinian prisoners and detainees, stressing the need for their release. They are soldiers and they are people who struggled for freedom, independence and peace.
At the same time, the occupying power continues to tighten the siege and to impose severe restrictions on movement, preventing the Palestinian Authority from providing vital infrastructure projects and providing services to its citizens, who are also being prevented from cultivating their land and deprived of water for irrigation.
It is also obstructing the establishment of agricultural, industrial, tourism and housing projects by the private sector in vast areas of the occupied Palestinian territory, which are classified as areas subject to the absolute control of occupation encompassing approximately 60% of the West Bank territory.
The occupying power continues to deliberately demolish what the PNA is building – projects funded by donors, brethren, and friends – and destroying the PNA’s projects involving building roads, simple home for its citizens, and agricultural facilities.
In fact, over the past 12 months, the Israeli occupying forces demolished 510 Palestinian structures in these areas, displacing 770 Palestinians from their homes.
These measures have caused great damage to our economy and impeded our development programs and private sector activity. They compound the socio-economic difficulties of our people under occupation – a fact confirmed by international financial institutions.
Israel’s overall policy is ultimately leading to the weakening of the PNA, undermining its ability to carry out its functions and to implement its obligations, which threatens to undermine its very existence or threaten its collapse.
All of this is taking place in the context of an Israeli political discourse that does not hesitate to brandish aggressive, extremist positions, which in many aspects in its practical application on the ground is inciting religious conflict. This is something we firmly reject based on our principles and convictions and due to our understanding of what it means to fuel such fires in this very sensitive area full of explosive flash points and how it can fuel the actions of extremists from various quarters, especially those trying to use intolerant monotheistic religions as an ideological justifications for their terrorism.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, we on our part as proof of our seriousness and our sincere intention to create an opening in this impasse conducted exploratory talks with the Israeli government at the beginning of this year upon the initiative of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. We have also encouraged the expressed desire of several countries to contribute to efforts to break the cycle of deadlock. We have also ourselves undertaken initiatives to create favorable conditions for the resumption of negotiations.
Unfortunately, however, the result of all these initiatives has been very negative.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, there can be really one reading of the Israeli government’s actions in our homeland and of the positions it has presented us regarding the substance of a permanent status agreement to end the conflict and achieve peace that one understanding leads to one conclusion that the Israeli government rejects the two-state solution.
The two-state solution – namely, the state of Palestine coexisting alongside with the state of Israel – represents the spirit and essence of the historic compromise embodied in the Oslo Declaration of Principles signed 19 years ago between the PLO and the government of Israel under the auspices of the United States in the White House lawn. A compromise by which the Palestinian people accepted to establish their state on only 22% of the territory of historic Palestine for the sake of making peace.
The recent years have actually witnessed a systematic acceleration and intensification of Israeli measures aimed at emptying the Oslo Accords of their meanings while simultaneously building tracts on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territory that are making the implementation of the accords extremely difficult, if not, completely impossible.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, the Israeli government aims to continue its occupation of East Jerusalem, to de-facto annex large areas of the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, and to continue occupying a large portion of the territory under different pretexts. It refuses to engage in any serious discussion on the issue of Palestinian refugees. It wants to continue its occupation of Palestinian water, aquifers, and its control over the most fertile agricultural areas in our land as over our air, skies, borders, and our lives in its entirety.
The final mark and border that can be drawn in accordance with Israel’s official positions reveal to us the following:
Small Palestinian enclaves surrounded by large Israeli blocks, walls, check points, and vast security zones and roads devoted to settlers. Thus, the enclaves would remain subject to the full dominance of the military colonial occupation, which is packaged under new names such as the unilateral plan for a so-called state with provisional borders. I repeat – a state with provisional borders. This is a project that we categorically reject from A to Z because it shall not bring about peace.
Mr. President, Israel refuses to end the occupation and refuses to allow the Palestinian people to attain their rights and freedom and reject the establishment of the state of Palestine. Israel is promising the Palestinian people a new catastrophe – a new setback.
I speak on behalf of an angry people – a people that feels that while they press for their rights to freedom, adopt a culture of peace and adhere to the principles and rules of international laws and resolutions of international legitimacy, rewards continue to be illogically bestowed upon Israel, whose government pursues a policy of war, occupation, and settler colonization.
And Israel continues to be permitted to enjoy impunity and some continue to obstruct the adoption of a decisive position regarding its violations of international law and covenants. This, in fact, represents a license for the occupation to continue its policy of dispossession and ethnic cleansing and encourages it to entrench a system of Apartheid against the Palestinian people.
Ladies and gentlemen, despite our genuine feelings of anger, we in the name of the Palestine Liberation Organization – the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, which will not accept to be divided into two and we shall not allow it to be divided into two. We are the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
I say we reaffirm without hesitation that we are as committed to peace and international legitimacy in its governance as much as we are equally – and by the same measures – upholding our inalienable rights and aspirations. We reaffirm that we are committed to non-violence. We reject terrorism in all its forms, particularly state terrorism.
Despite our feelings of disappointment and our despair, we continue to sincerely extend our hands in peace to the Israeli people to make peace.
We realize that ultimately the two people must live and coexist each in their respective state in the Holy Land.
Further, we also realize that progress toward making peace is through negotiations between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel.
Despite all the complexities of the prevailing reality and all the frustrations that’s around, we say before the international community, there is still a chance – maybe the last – to save the two-state solution and to salvage peace.
However, this urgent task must be pursued via a new approach.
Whoever rushes to advise us, to repeat an experience that has proven to be futile, negotiations with the Israeli government without clear terms of reference, must understand that this will result in a reproduction of failure and again provide a cover for consecrating occupation and will deal a final blow to an already dying peace process.
And those who advise us to wait must realize that the hotbed of tension – the festering situation – in our country and our region has its own timing and can neither withstand further procrastination or delay nor is it amenable to relegation to the bottom of the global agenda.
The approach required for salvaging the chance of peace must first and foremost be predicated on the understanding that the racial settler colonization must be condemned, punished and boycotted in order for it to be completely halted and eliminated.
This approach also requires a reaffirmation and adherence to the terms of reference and basics of the solution to the conflict, which has been endorsed by all of you.
The core component of a just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict do not require belaboring the point. Rather, what is needed is the will to implement these components, [incomprehensible audio] negotiations are not required to define them. Rather, what is needed is the sincere intention to reach peace. And those components are by no means a mysterious puzzle or intractable riddle. Rather, they are the clearest and most logical secrets in the world.
This includes, in brief, the establishment of an independent state of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capitol, over the entire territory occupied by Israel since 1967, and the realization of a just agreed solution to the Palestine refugee issues in accordance with Resolution 194 III as prescribed by the Arab Peace Initiative.
Indeed, the fundamental components of the solution to the conflict exist in the documents and resolutions of the United Nations. You have it. It is also endorsed in the resolutions of regional organizations beginning with the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the African Union. They can also be found in the statements of the European Union and the International Quartet.
However, what’s the use of all of those terms of reference if Israel continues to refuse and is encouraged to continue to oppose these terms of reference?
The international community, embodied in the United Nations, is required now more than ever before to uphold its responsibilities.
The Security Council is called upon to urgently adopt a resolution comprising the basis and foundations for a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that would serve as a binding term of reference and a guidance for all of the vision of the two states – Israel and Palestine is to survive and if peace is to prevail in the land of peace, the birthplace of Jesus, peace be upon him, the ascension of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and the final resting place of Abraham, peace be upon him. Palestine, the land of the three monolithic religions.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, all things considered, the establishment of a free and independent state of Palestine is a sacred right of the Palestinian people and a due entitlement that must be realized for it has been long overdue for too many decades. It’s not a grant bestowed upon us by anyone. It is a right and the Palestinian people is entitled to this right.
At the same time, the Palestinian National Authority has affirmed through implementation of its state institution building programs the ability to create an advanced model for an effective modern state through the development of the performance of its institutions, public finance management, through the adoption of transparency, accountability, and rules of good governance.
These achievements have been deemed by the ad hoc liaison committee, the World Bank, and the IMF to constitute an impressive undertaking and success story – one that was again commended in the latest report just released a few days ago, confirming the full Palestinian Authority’s readiness for the transition to an independent state while at the same time stressing that the Israeli occupation remains the only obstacle to the realization of the state of Palestine.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, when a year ago during the previous session of the General Assembly, we submitted our application for consideration by the Security Council to allow the state of Palestine to assume its rightful place among the community of nations as a full member of the United Nations, a major and hostile uproar was voiced by some against this political diplomatic peaceful step par excellence aimed at saving the peace process by asserting its basis and foundation. However, our endeavor was aborted despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the countries of the world supported and continues to support our application. I see not even a single reason for opposing this request.
Yet, when the countries of the world had the opportunity to declare their stance without any restrictions or veto, last autumn they voted – they voted despite enormous pressures in strong support of the acceptance of Palestine as a member of UNESCO.
A year has passed and Palestine…is playing its role in UNESCO with higher responsibility and professionalism. Palestine is committed to international conventions, is cooperating with all member states in order to advance the objectives of the organization. It is providing a model of what its positive, constructive cultural contribution in international organizations would be.
In order to enhance the chances for peace, ladies and gentlemen, we will continue our efforts to obtain full membership for Palestine at the United Nations.
And for the same purpose, we have begun intensive consultations with various regional organizations and member states aimed at having the General Assembly adopt a resolution considering the state of Palestine a non-member state of the United Nations during this session. We are confident that the vast majorities of the countries of the world support our endeavor aimed at salvaging the chances for a just peace.
In our endeavor, we do not seek to de-legitimize an existing state that is Israel but rather to assert the state that must be realized – that is Palestine. We are not attempting to de-legitimize them. They are trying to de-legitimize us.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, more than 54 years have passed since a Nakba and a large portion of those who were its immediate victims and witnessed its horrors have died – have died with their memories preserved in their minds and hearts about their beautiful world that was devastated, their warm homes that were demolished, and their peaceful villages that were erased from existence, and about the renaissance that was undermined, about their loved ones – their men, women and children – who were killed in wars, massacres, attacks, raids, and incursions, and about their beautiful country that was the beacon of coexistence, tolerance, progress, and a crossroads of civilization. They died in the camps of displacement and refuge to which they were expelled following their uprooting from their homeland as they awaited the moment in which they would resume their suspended lives and complete their journey that was interrupted and repair their shattered dreams. They died while they clung to their legitimate human rights to justice and freedom and to redress the historic and unprecedented injustice inflicted upon them.
Hasn’t the time come to undo this injustice?
At present, 77% of the Palestinian are under the age of 35. Although they did not experience the horrors of a Nakba, they know very well all its horrendous details from the accounts told to them by their parents and grandparents who endured it, and they are suffering the ongoing effects until today and everyday as a result of the practices of the occupation and the settlers on the land that is diminishing and a horizon before them that is blocked against their simple ordinary dreams. They see their homeland and their present and future vulnerable to continued use of their patience and they say firmly, “We shall not allow a new Nakba to happen.”
I say to you, ladies and gentlemen, that the brave Palestinian people will not allow themselves to be the victim of a new Nakba. We will not allow that. We will stay in our land.
My people will continue their epic, steadfastness and their eternal survival journey in their beloved homeland, every inch of which carries the evidence and landmarks affirming their roots and unique connection throughout ancient history.
There is no homeland for us except Palestine and there is no land for us but Palestine.
We shall not accept an alternative homeland nor an alternative land. Palestine is our homeland and shall remain our homeland.
Our people will continue to build institutions of their state and we’ll continue to strive to achieve national reconciliation to restore the unity of our nation, people, and institutions by resorting to the ballot boxes, which will confirm our people’s pluralistic democratic choice.
Our people are also determined to continue peaceful popular resistance. Peaceful popular resistance – I repeat – consistent with international humanitarian law against the occupation, against settler occupation, and for the sake of freedom, independence, and peace.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, to prevent the occurrence of a new Nakba in the Holy Land, support the realization of a free independent state of Palestine now. Let peace be victorious before it is too late. Peace be upon you.
- United Nations: Video of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 27, 2012
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the UN General Assembly
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Remarks by President Barack Obama at the United Nations General Assembly
- Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for Palestine’s website
- Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for Palestine: Palestinian State-Building at Stake: Office the U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process: Preserving the Two-State Solution – Sept. 23, 2012 (PDF)
- Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for Palestine: Chair’s Summary of the Meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee on Sept. 23, 2012 (PDF)
- Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for Palestine: Palestinian National Authority: Moving Beyond the Status Quo: Safeguarding the Two-State Solution – Sept. 23, 2012 (PDF)
- Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for Palestine: International Monetary Fund: Recent Experience and the Prospects of the Economy of the West Bank and Gaza – Sept. 23, 2012 (PDF)
- Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for Palestine: World Bank: The Imperative for Economic Cohesion in the Palestinian Territories – Sept. 23, 2012 (PDF)
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