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Full text: Abbas address to UN General Assembly

Sept. 27, 2012 7:41 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 29, 2012 4:19 P.M.)
New York

Sept. 27, 2012

President of the United Nations

General Assembly,

Mr. Secretary-General,

Excellencies Heads of Delegations,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to begin by extending congratulations to the President of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Vuk Jeremic, wishing him all success. I express appreciation as well to H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser for his leadership of the previous General Assembly session, and also to the United Nations Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, for his tireless efforts at the helm of this organization.

Also, from the outset, I wish to affirm our appreciation to all Member States that, 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 people of their

inalienable 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 Israeli settlement of our country,

Palestine.

During the past months, attacks by terrorist 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

byproduct of the continuation of occupation and a government policy that deliberately fosters the

settlements and settlers and deems their satisfaction to be an absolute priority. And, it is the

inherent byproduct of the racist climate fueled by a culture of incitement in the Israeli curriculum

and extremist declarations, which are rife with hatred and are 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 after excuse for the settlers' crimes and for their

accelerated release should one of them happen to be arrested, and by official and military

commissions of inquiry, which fabricate justifications for soldiers who have committed what are

clearly considered to be 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,

Israel, the occupying Power, has persisted with its settlement campaign, 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 humankind. It is a

campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people via the demolition of their homes

and prevention of their construction; the revocation of residency rights; the denial of basic

services, especially with regard to construction of schools; the closure of institutions; and the

impoverishment of Jerusalem's community via a siege of walls and checkpoints that are choking

the City and preventing millions of Palestinians from freely accessing its mosques, churches,

schools, hospitals and markets.

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 raids

and attacks against our people in the Gaza Strip, who to this day continue to suffer from the

disastrous impact of the destructive war of aggression committed against them years ago. Nearly

five thousand Palestinians also remain captive as prisoners and detainees in Israel's jails. We

call on the international community to compel the Government of Israel to respect the Geneva

Conventions, to lift the blockade of Gaza and to investigate the conditions of detention of

Palestinian prisoners and detainees, stressing the need for their release; they are soldiers in their

people's struggle for freedom, independence and peace.

At the same time, the occupying Power continues to tighten the siege and impose severe

restrictions on movement, preventing the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) from

implementing 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 the occupation, which encompasses approximately 60% of the

West Bank. The occupying Power continues to deliberately demolish what the PNA is building,

projects funded by donor brethren and friends, and destroying PNA projects involving the

building of roads, simple homes for its citizens and agricultural facilities. In fact, over the past

12 months, the Israeli occupying forces demolished 510 Palestinian structures in these areas and

displaced 770 Palestinians from their homes. These illegal measures have caused great damage

to our economy and impeded our development programs and private sector activity,

compounding the socio-economic difficulties being endured by our people under occupation, a

fact confirmed by international institutions.

Israel's overall policy is ultimately leading to the weakening of the Palestinian National

Authority, undermining its ability to carry out its functions and to implement its obligations,

which threatens to undermine its very existence and threatens 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 and its practical

application on the ground is inciting religious conflict. This is something we firmly reject based

on our principles and convictions and our understanding what it means to fuel such fires in this

very sensitive area full of explosive flashpoints and how it can fuel the action of extremists from

various quarters, especially those trying to use tolerant, monotheistic religions as an ideological

justification for their terrorism.

Mr. President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We, on our part, and as proof 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 desires of several countries to contribute to efforts to break the cycle

of deadlock and 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 only be one understanding of the Israeli Government's actions in our homeland

and of the positions it has presented to 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, i.e. the State of Palestine coexisting alongside the State of Israel,

represents the spirit and essence of the historic compromise embodied in the Oslo Declaration of

Principles, the agreement signed 19 years ago between the Palestine Liberation Organization

(PLO) and the Government of Israel under the auspices of the United States of America on 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 the systematic acceleration and intensification

of Israeli measures aimed at emptying the Oslo Accords of their meaning, while simultaneously

building facts 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,

Israel 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 of the issue of

the Palestine refugees. It wants to continue its occupation of Palestinian water basins and its

control over the most fertile agricultural areas in our land as well as over our air, skies and

borders.

The final map and borders that can be drawn in accordance with Israel's official positions

reveal to us the following: small Palestinian enclaves surrounded by large Israeli settlement blocs

and walls, checkpoints and vast security zones and roads devoted to the settlers. Thus, the

enclaves would remain subject to the full dominance of military, colonial occupation, only

packaged under new names, such as the unilateral plan for a so-called State with provisional

borders.

Mr. President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Israel refuses to end the occupation and refuses to allow the Palestinian people to attain

their rights and freedom and rejects the independence of the State of Palestine.

Israel is promising the Palestinian people a new catastrophe, a new Nakba.

Mr. President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I speak on behalf of an angry people, a people that feels that, at the same time that they

continue with their calls for their right to freedom and their adoption of a culture of peace and

adherence to the principles and rules of international law and resolutions of international

legitimacy, rewards continue to be illogically bestowed upon Israel, whose Government pursues

a policy of war, occupation and settlement colonization. And Israel continues to be permitted to

evade accountability and punishment and some continue to obstruct the undertaking of decisive

positions 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 its system of apartheid against the Palestinian people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Despite our real feelings of anger, we, in the name of the Palestine Liberation

Organization (PLO), the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, reaffirm,

without hesitation, that we are as committed to peace and international legitimacy and its covenants

and its resolutions as we are adherent to our inalienable national rights and aspirations, and we

reaffirm that we are committed to non-violence and reject terrorism in all its forms, particularly

State terrorism.

Despite our feelings of disappointment and loss of hope, we continue to sincerely extend

our hands to the Israeli people to make peace. We realize that ultimately the two peoples must

live and coexist, each in their respective State, in the Holy Land. Further, we realize that

progress towards making peace is through negotiations between the PLO and Israel.

Despite all the complexities of the prevailing reality and all the frustrations that abound,

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 fruitless - negotiations with the Israeli

Government without clear terms of reference - must understand that this will result in

reproduction of failure and again provide a cover for entrenchment of the occupation and will

finish off an already-dying peace process. And, whoever advises us to wait must realize

that the festering situation in our country and our region has its own timing and can neither

withstand further procrastination and delay nor its placement at the bottom of the global agenda.

The approach required for saving the chance for peace must first and foremost be

predicated on the understanding that racial settler colonization must be condemned, punished and

boycotted in order for it to be completely halted. This approach also requires reaffirmation of

and adherence to the terms of reference and foundations of the solution to the conflict, which

have been endorsed by all of you.

The core components of a just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict do not require

effort to discover, but rather what is needed is the will to implement them. And marathon

negotiations are not required to determine them, but rather what is needed is the sincere intention

reach peace. And those components are by no means a mysterious puzzle or intractable riddle,

but rather are the clearest and most logical in the world. This includes the realization of the

independence of the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, over the entire territory

occupied by Israel since 1967, and the realization of a just, agreed solution to the Palestine

refugee issue in accordance with resolution 194 (III), as prescribed in the Arab Peace Initiative.

Indeed, the fundamental components of the solution to the conflict exist in the documents

and resolutions of the United Nations and in the resolutions of regional organizations, starting

from the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Non-

Aligned Movement (NAM) and the African Union (AU), as well as in the statements of the

European Union (EU) and the international Quartet.

The international community, embodied in the United Nations, is required now more than

ever 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 reference and guide for all if the vision of 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), and ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and the

final resting place of Abraham (peace be upon him), the land of the three monotheistic religions.

Mr. President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The independence and freedom of the State of Palestine is above all and ultimately a

sacred right of the Palestinian people and an entitlement that must be realized for it has been long

overdue for too many decades.

At the same time, the Palestinian National Authority has affirmed, through

implementation of its State institution-building program, the ability to create an advanced model

for an effective, modem 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 considered by the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee

(AHLC), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to constitute an impressive

undertaking and success story, one that was again commended in the latest report just a few days

ago, confirming full Palestinian 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 nations of the world as a full member in the United Nations, a major

and hostile uproar was raised by some against this political, diplomatic, peaceful step 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.

Yet, last autumn, when the countries of the world had the opportunity to declare their

stance without any restrictions or "veto", they voted, despite enormous pressures, in strong

support of the acceptance of Palestine as a Member State of the United Nations Educational,

Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). A year has passed and Palestine, the homeland

of Mahmoud Darwish and Edward Said, is playing its role in UNESCO with high responsibility

and professionalism, and is committed to international conventions, cooperating with all Member

States in order to advance the objectives of the organization, and providing a model of what its

positive, constructive contribution in international organizations would be.

Mr. President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In order to enhance the chances for peace, 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 as a non-Member

State of the United Nations during this session. We are confident that the vast majority 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 delegitimize an existing State - that is Israel; but rather

to assert the State that must be realized - that is Palestine.

Mr. President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

More than 64 years have passed since Al-Nakba and a large portion of those who were its

direct victims and witnessed its horrors 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 their

renaissance that was undermined, and their loved ones, dear men, women and children, who

were killed in wars, massacres, attacks, raids and incursions, and about their beautiful country

that was a 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 right to justice and freedom and to redress for the

historic unprecedented injustice inflicted upon them.

At present, 77% of the Palestinian people are under the age of 35 years. Although they

did not experience the horrors of Al-Nakba, they know very well the details of its horrendous

facts from the accounts told to them by their parents and grandparents who endured it. And, they

are suffering its ongoing effects until today and every day as a result of the practices of the

occupation and the settlers on a 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 usurpation and they say firmly: we will not allow a new Nakba to

happen.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I say to you that the brave Palestinian people will not allow themselves to be the victim

of a new Nakba. My people will continue their epic steadfastness and eternal survival in their

beloved land, 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. Our people will continue to build the institutions of their

State and will continue to strive to achieve national reconciliation to restore the unity of our

nation, people and institutions via resorting to the ballot boxes, which will confirm our people's

pluralistic democratic choice. Our people are also determined to continue peaceful popular

resistance, consistent with international humanitarian law, against the occupation and the

settlements and for the sake of freedom, independence and peace.

Mr. President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

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.
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