The following is a transcript of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's speech before the United Nations plenum.
Mr. President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Mr.
Secretary-General of the United Nations, excellencies, ladies and
At the outset, I extend my congratulations to H.E. Mr. Nassir
Abdulaziz AI-Nasser on his assumption of the presidency of the Assembly for this
session, and wish him all success.
I extend today my sincere
congratulations, on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the
Palestinian people, to the government and people of South Sudan for its deserved
admission as a full member of the United Nations, wishing them progress and
I also congratulate the Secretary- General, H.E. Mr. Ban
Ki-moon, on his election for a new term at the helm of the United Nations. This
renewal of confidence reflects the world’s appreciation for his efforts, which
have strengthened the role of the United Nations.
and gentlemen, the question Palestine is intricately linked with the United
Nations via the resolutions adopted by its various organs and agencies and via
the essential and lauded role of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for
Palestine Refugees in the Near East – UNRWA – which embodies the international
responsibility towards the plight of Palestine refugees, who are the victims of
Al-Nakba [Catastrophe] that occurred in 1948.
We aspire for and seek a
greater and more effective role for the United Nations in working to achieve a
just and comprehensive peace in our region that ensures the inalienable,
legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people as defined by the
resolutions of international legitimacy of the United
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, a year ago, at this same
time, distinguished leaders in this hall addressed the stalled peace efforts in
our region. Everyone had high hopes for a new round of final-status
negotiations, which had begun in early September in Washington under the direct
auspices of President Barack Obama and with participation of the Quartet, and
with Egyptian and Jordanian participation, to reach a peace agreement within one
We entered those negotiations with open hearts and attentive ears
and sincere intentions, and we were ready with our documents, papers and
proposals. But the negotiations broke down just weeks after their launch. After
this, we did not give up and did not cease our efforts for initiatives and
Over the past year we did not leave a door to be knocked, or
channel to be tested, or path to be taken – and we did not ignore any formal or
informal party of influence and stature to be addressed.
considered the various ideas and proposals and initiatives presented from many
countries and parties. But all of these sincere efforts and endeavors undertaken
by international parties were repeatedly wrecked by the positions of the Israeli
government, which quickly dashed the hopes raised by the launch of negotiations
The core issue here is that the Israeli government
refuses to commit to terms of reference for the negotiations that are based on
international law and United Nations resolutions, and that it frantically
continues to intensify building of settlements on the territory of the state of
Settlement activities embody the core of the policy of
colonial-military occupation of the land of the Palestinian people and all of
the brutality of aggression and racial discrimination against our people that
this policy entails.
This policy, which constitutes a breach of
international humanitarian law and United Nations resolutions, is the primary
cause for the failure of the peace process, the collapse of dozens of
opportunities, and the burial of the great hopes that arose from the signing of
the Declaration of Principles in 1993 between the Palestine Liberation
Organization and Israel to achieve a just peace that would begin a new era for
The reports of United Nations missions, as well as by several
Israeli institutions and civil societies, convey a horrific picture about the
size of the settlement campaign, which the Israeli government does not hesitate
to boast about and which it continues to execute through the systematic
confiscation of the Palestinian lands and the construction of thousands of new
settlement units in various areas of the West Bank – particularly in east
Jerusalem, and accelerated construction of the annexation Wall that is eating up
large tracts of our land, dividing it into separate and isolated islands and
cantons, destroying family life and communities and the livelihoods of tens of
thousands of families.
The occupying power also continues to refuse
permits for our people to build in occupied east Jerusalem, at the same time
that it intensifies its decades-long campaign of demolition and confiscation of
homes, displacing Palestinian owners and residents under a multi-pronged policy
of ethnic cleansing aimed at pushing them away from their ancestral
In addition, orders have been issued to deport elected
representatives from the city of Jerusalem. The occupying power also continues
to undertake excavations that threaten our holy places, and its military
checkpoints prevent our citizens from getting access to their mosques and
churches, and it continues to besiege the Holy City with a ring of settlements
imposed to separate the Holy City from the rest of the Palestinian
The occupation is racing against time to redraw the borders on
our land according to what it wants and to impose a fait-accompli on the ground
that changes the realities and that is undermining the realistic potential for
the existence of the State of Palestine.
At the same time, the occupying
power continues to impose its blockade on the Gaza Strip and to target
Palestinian civilians by assassinations, air strikes and artillery shelling,
persisting with its war of aggression of three years ago on Gaza, which resulted
in massive destruction of homes, schools, hospitals and mosques, and the
thousands of martyrs and wounded.
The occupying power also continues its
incursions in areas of the Palestinian National Authority through raids, arrests
and killings at the checkpoints. In recent years, the criminal actions of
armed settler militias, who enjoy the special protection of the occupation army,
has intensified with the perpetration of frequent attacks against our people,
targeting their homes, schools, universities, mosques, fields, crops and
Despite our repeated warnings, the occupying power has not acted
to curb these attacks and we hold them fully responsible for the crimes of the
These are just a few examples of the policy of the Israeli
colonial settlement occupation, and this policy is responsible for the continued
failure of the successive international attempts to salvage the peace
This policy will destroy the chances of achieving a two-state
solution upon which there is an international consensus, and here I caution
aloud: This settlement policy threatens to also undermine the structure of the
Palestinian National Authority and even end its existence.
we now face the imposition of new conditions not previously raised, conditions
that will transform the raging conflict in our inflamed region into a religious
conflict and a threat to the future of a million-and-a-half Christian and Muslim
Palestinians, citizens of Israel – a matter which we reject and which is
impossible for us to accept being dragged into.
All of these actions
taken by Israel in our country are unilateral actions and are not based on any
earlier agreements. Indeed, what we witness is a selective application of the
agreements aimed at perpetuating the occupation.
Israel reoccupied the
cities of the West Bank by a unilateral action, and reestablished the civil and
military occupation by a unilateral action, and it is the one that determines
whether or not a Palestinian citizen has the right to reside in any part of the
And it is confiscating our land and our water and
obstructing our movement as well as the movement of goods. And it is the one
obstructing our whole destiny. All of this is unilateral.
ladies and gentlemen, in 1974, our deceased leader Yasser Arafat came to this
hall and assured the Members of the General Assembly of our affirmative pursuit
for peace, urging the United Nations to realize the inalienable national rights
of the Palestinian people, stating: “Do not let the olive branch fall from my
In 1988, president Arafat again addressed the General Assembly,
which convened in Geneva to hear him, where he submitted the Palestinian peace
program adopted by the Palestine National Council at its session held that year
When we adopted this program, we were taking a painful and
very difficult step for all of us, especially those, including myself, who were
forced to leave their homes and their towns and villages, carrying only some of
our belongings and our grief and our memories and the keys of our homes to the
camps of exile and the Diaspora in the 1948 AI-Nakba – one of the worst
operations of uprooting, destruction and removal of a vibrant and cohesive
society that had been contributing in a pioneering and leading way the cultural,
educational and economic renaissance of the Arab Middle East.
because we believe in peace and because of our conviction in international
legitimacy, and because we had the courage to make difficult decisions for our
people, and in the absence of absolute justice, we decided to adopt the path of
relative justice – justice that is possible and could correct part of the grave
historical injustice committed against our people.
Thus, we agreed to
establish the state of Palestine on only 22 percent of the territory of
historical Palestine – on all the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel in
We, by taking that historic step, which was welcomed by the States
of the world, made a major concession in order to achieve a historic compromise
that would allow peace to be made in the land of peace.
In the years that
followed – from the Madrid Conference and the Washington negotiations leading to
the Oslo agreement, which was signed 18 years ago in the garden of the White
House and was linked with the letters of mutual recognition between the PLO and
Israel, we persevered and dealt positively and responsibly with all efforts
aimed at the achievement of a lasting peace agreement.
Yet, as we said
earlier, every initiative and every conference and every new round of
negotiations and every movement was shattered on the rock of the Israeli
settlement expansion project.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I
confirm, on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole legitimate
representative of the Palestinian people, which will remain so until the end of
the conflict in all its aspects and until the resolution of all final status
issues, the following: (1) The goal of the Palestinian people is the realization
of their inalienable national rights in their independent State of Palestine,
with east Jerusalem as its capital, on all the land of the West Bank, including
east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, which Israel occupied in the June 1967 war,
in conformity with the resolutions of international legitimacy and with the
achievement of a just and agreed upon solution to the Palestine refugee issue in
accordance with resolution 194, as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative which
presented the consensus Arab vision to resolve the core Arab-Israeli conflict
and to achieve a just and comprehensive peace.
To this we adhere and this
is what we are working to achieve. Achieving this desired peace also requires
the release of political prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons without
(2) The PLO and the Palestinian people adhere to the renouncement
of violence and rejection and condemning of terrorism in all its forms,
especially state terrorism, and adhere to all agreements signed between the
Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel.
(3) We adhere to the option
of negotiating a lasting solution to the conflict in accordance with resolutions
of international legitimacy.
Here, I declare that the Palestine
Liberation Organization is ready to return immediately to the negotiating table
on the basis of the adopted terms of reference based on international legitimacy
and a complete cessation of settlement activities.
(4) Our people will
continue their popular peaceful resistance to the Israeli occupation and its
settlement and apartheid policies and its construction of the racist annexation
Wall, and they receive support for their resistance, which is consistent with
international humanitarian law and international conventions and has the support
of peace activists from Israel and around the world, reflecting an impressive,
inspiring and courageous example of the strength of this defenseless people,
armed only with their dreams, courage, hope and slogans in the face of bullets,
tanks, tear gas and bulldozers.
(5) When we bring our plight and our case
to this international podium, it is a confirmation of our reliance on the
political and diplomatic option and is a confirmation that we do not undertake
Our efforts are not aimed at isolating Israel or
de-legitimizing it; rather we want to gain legitimacy for the cause of the
people of Palestine. We only aim to de-legitimize the settlement activities, the
occupation and apartheid and the logic of ruthless force, and we believe that
all the countries of the world stand with us in this regard.
I am here to
say on behalf of the Palestinian people and the Palestine Liberation
Organization: We extend our hands to the Israeli government and the Israeli
people for peace-making.
I say to them: Let us urgently build together a
future for our children where they can enjoy freedom, security and prosperity.
Let us build the bridges of dialogue instead of checkpoints and walls of
separation, and build cooperative relations based on parity and equity between
two neighboring States – Palestine and Israel – instead of policies of
occupation, settlement, war and eliminating the other.
ladies and gentlemen, despite the unquestionable right of our people to
self-determination and to the independence of our state as stipulated in
international resolutions, we have accepted in the past few years to engage in
what appeared to be a test of our worthiness, entitlement and
During the last two years our national authority has
implemented a program to build our State institutions.
extraordinary situation and the Israeli obstacles imposed, a serious extensive
project was launched that has included the implementation of plans to enhance
and advance the judiciary and the apparatus for maintenance of order and
security; to develop the administrative, financial, and oversight systems; to
upgrade the performance of institutions; and to enhance self-reliance to reduce
the need for foreign aid.
With the thankful support of Arab countries and
donors from friendly countries, a number of large infrastructure projects have
been implemented, focused on various aspects of service, with special attention
to rural and marginalized areas.
In the midst of this massive national
project, we have been strengthening what we seeking to be the features of our
state: from the preservation of security for the citizen and public order; to
the promotion of judicial authority and rule of law; to strengthening the role
of women via legislation, laws and participation; to ensuring the protection of
public freedoms and strengthening the role of civil society institutions; to
institutionalizing rules and regulations for ensuring accountability and
transparency in the work of our ministries and departments; to entrenching the
pillars of democracy as the basis for the Palestinian political
When division struck the unity of our homeland, people and
institutions, we were determined to adopt dialogue for restoration of our
We succeeded months ago in achieving national reconciliation and
we hope that its implementation will be accelerated in the coming
The core pillar of this reconciliation was to turn to the people
through legislative and presidential elections within a year, because the state
we want will be a state characterized by the rule of law, democratic exercise
and protection of the freedoms and equality of all citizens, without any
discrimination and the transfer of power through the ballot box.
reports issued recently by the United Nations, the World Bank, the Ad Hoc
Liaison Committee (AHLC) and the International Monetary Fund confirm and laud
what has been accomplished, considering it a remarkable and unprecedented
The consensus conclusion by the AHLC a few days ago here described
what has been accomplished as a “remarkable international success story,” and
confirmed the readiness of the Palestinian people and their institutions for the
immediate independence of the state of Palestine.
and gentlemen, it is no longer possible to redress the issue of the blockage of
the horizon of the peace talks with the same means and methods that have been
repeatedly tried and proven unsuccessful over the past years. The crisis is far
too deep to be neglected, and what is more dangerous are attempts to simply
circumvent it or postpone its explosion.
It is neither possible, nor
practical, nor acceptable to return to conducting business as usual, as if
everything is fine. It is futile to go into negotiations without clear
parameters and in the absence of credibility and a specific
Negotiations will be meaningless as long as the occupation
army on the ground continues to entrench its occupation, instead of rolling it
back, and continues to change the demography of our country in order to create a
new basis on which to alter the borders.
Excellencies, ladies and
gentlemen, it is a moment of truth and my people are waiting to hear the answer
of the world.
Will it allow Israel to continue its occupation, the only
occupation in the world? Will it allow Israel to remain a state above the law
and accountability? Will it allow Israel to continue rejecting the resolutions
of the Security Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations and the
International Court of Justice and the positions of the overwhelming majority of
countries in the world? Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I come before you
today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages,
ascension of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and the birthplace of
Jesus Christ, peace be upon him, to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people in
the homeland and in the Diaspora, to say, after 63 years of suffering of an
ongoing Nakba: Enough.
It is time for the Palestinian people to gain
their freedom and independence.
The time has come to end the suffering
and the plight of millions of Palestine refugees in the homeland and the
Diaspora, to end their displacement and to realize their rights, some of them
forced to take refuge more than once in different places of the world.
a time when the Arab peoples affirm their quest for democracy – the Arab Spring
– the time is now for the “Palestinian Spring,” the time for
The time has come for our men, women and children to live
normal lives, for them to be able to sleep without waiting for the worst that
the next day will bring; for mothers to be assured that their children will
return home without fear of suffering killing, arrest or humiliation; for
students to be able to go to their schools and universities without checkpoints
The time has come for sick people to be able to reach
hospitals normally, and for our farmers to be able to take care of their good
land without fear of the occupation seizing the land and its water, which the
wall prevents access to, or fear of the settlers, for whom settlements are being
built on our land and who are uprooting and burning the olive trees that have
existed for hundreds of years.
The time has come for the thousands of
prisoners to be released from the prisons to return to their families and their
children to become a part of building their homeland, for the freedom of which
they have sacrificed.
My people desire to exercise their right to enjoy a
normal life like the rest of humanity.
They believe what the great poet
Mahmoud Darwish said: “Standing here, staying here, permanent here, eternal
here, and we have one goal, one, one: To be.”
Excellencies, ladies and
gentlemen, we profoundly appreciate and value the positions of all states that
have supported our struggle and our rights and recognized the state of Palestine
following the Declaration of Independence in 1988, as well as the countries that
have recently recognized the state of Palestine and those that have upgraded the
level of Palestine’s representation in their capitals.
I also salute the
secretary-general, who said a few days ago that the Palestinian state should
have been established years ago. Be assured that this support for our people is
more valuable to them than you can imagine, for it makes them feel that someone
is listening to their narrative and that their tragedy and the horrors of
Al-Nakba and the occupation, from which they have so suffered, are not being
And, it reinforces their hope that stems from the belief that
justice is possible in this in this world. The loss of hope is the most
ferocious enemy of peace and despair is the strongest ally of
I say: The time has come for my courageous and proud people,
after decades of displacement and colonial occupation and ceaseless suffering,
to live like other peoples of the earth, free in a sovereign and independent
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to inform you
that, before delivering this statement, I, in my capacity as president of the
state of Palestine and chairman of the executive committee of the Palestine
Liberation Organization, submitted to H.E.
Mr. Ban Ki-moon,
Secretary-General of the United Nations, an application for the admission of
Palestine on the basis of the 4 June 1967 borders, with AI-Quds AI-Sharif as its
capital, as a full member of the United Nations.
I call upon Mr.
Secretary-General to expedite transmittal of our request to the Security
Council, and I call upon the distinguished members of the Security Council to
vote in favor of our full membership.
I also appeal to the states that
have not yet recognized the state of Palestine to do so.
ladies and gentlemen, the support of the countries of the world for our endeavor
is a victory for truth, freedom, justice, law and international legitimacy, and
it provides tremendous support for the peace option and enhances the chances of
success of the negotiations.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, your
support for the establishment of the state of Palestine and for its admission to
the United Nations as a full member is the greatest contribution to peace-making
in the Holy Land.
I thank you.