Yasir Arafat's Speech at the Palestinian Legislative Council
In the name of God, most compassionate, must merciful
We will, without doubt,
Help Our apostles and those
Who believe, (both)
In this world's life
And on the Day
When the Witnesses
Will stand forth
Sadaqqa Allahu Al Athim
Brother Ahmad Qure' - Abu Ala
R. H. speaker of the Palestine Legislative Council (PLC)
Respected sisters and brothers, members of the PLC
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure and honor to address you today as you are convening this important meeting of the elected PLC. It is the Council that has carried, and is carrying, alongside the Palestine National Council (PNC), on their shoulders, the heavy burden and the historic responsibilities, as our steadfast, persevering and persistent Palestinian people are passing, in a firm and unswerving manner, through this long overdue transitional period from occupation to independence and from slavery to freedom. It is our fate, it is the fate of our generation, it is as well the fate of our people, to endure all this suffering? because our demand, our objective and our dream is genuine freedom and total independence in the independent State of Palestine, with Holy Jerusalem as its capital.
Allow me dear members of the PLC to commemorate this day, the 15th of May the anniversary of the catastrophe of our Palestinian people. We will remember the sufferings of our Palestinian people and their pains, as they stand steadfast in the face of all these difficult circumstances and historical challenges, to wipe them out off the political and geographic map in the Middle East Region. This is the great people who are defending their holy land, their Terra Sancta, their Christian and Islamic holy places. It is the people who are recording this heroic epic waged by the heroic Palestinian people and all their militant forces, in order to gain their freedom and independence, and so that out children and generations can live in security and peace in a free and independent homeland, far away from occupation, settlement, oppression, assassination and detention, that take place in an unprecedented manner in contemporary international community, where our people are the only people the world over who are still living under occupation.
Peace was and will continue to be our strategic choice. We will not give up the choice of peace between us and the Israelis. In peace there is a common interest for both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples. In addition, all alternatives to peace that the Israeli government has resorted to in order to wipe out the choice of peace, the peace of the brave, which I have signed with my late partner Rabin, who was assassinated by these extremist forces, have proven to be a failure and void. As you see, the Israeli military solution has not, will not and can not - despite all what the Israeli occupation forces have perpetrated in terms of killing, undermining, destitution and destruction of the infrastructures of our official, educational, health, social, security and other institutions- has not, will not and can not change an inkling in our determination to achieve independence, sovereignty and freedom. It can not also change an inkling in our readiness to accept the peace of the brave which was done at the Madrid Conference and the agreements that were signed to achieve a just comprehensive and permanent peace, especially after accepting the Saudi initiative of Crown Prince Abdullah at Arab Summit Conference held recently in Beirut, as well as the recent meeting at Sharm Sheikh among President Mubark (of Egypt), Crown Price Abdullah Al-Saud and President Bashar Assad (of Syria).
We have extended, and we are still extending our hand to just peace, the peace of the brave, the peace that will realize security and justice for both the Palestinians and the Israelis, as well as for the Arab region, the Middle East and the whole world, let it be know to everyone. It is the peace for this land, the land that is sacred to all. In all honesty and with full responsibility, I would like to assure you, today, that the talks we had at Camp David were very difficult, critical and sensitive and engulfed, all important and basic issues. Despite the tireless and good offices made by President Clinton and his team, we could not, however, reach an agreement on these basic issues. As you know, we have continued these talks at Sharm-Sheikh which were sponsored by President Mubark. And then in Paris we continued these talks whose last session was attended by President Chirac.
Progress came at the negotiations in Taba (let us refer to the press conference convened by Abu Ala' and Shlomo Ben Ami). We were supposed to continue these negotiations after the Israeli elections. You have all lived the experience and suffered with your people and with your Authority, as a result of what took place, before and after, especially in the face of the actions undertaken by the Israeli army and in the face of its plans, such as the Israeli Field of Thorns, prepared and planned against our unarmed people and whose explosive spark was the storming of the Holy Mosque of Jerusalem.
It was a blatant action that provoked the worshippers at the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque. This provocative storming was followed by shooting at the worshippers as a result of which many victims, martyrs and injured persons, from among our people fell.
Brother speaker of the PLC,
Sisters and brothers, members of the PLC,
In the face of this unjust aggressive war against our people namely, the field of thorns, the one hundred days battle, the Oranium, the rolling operation, the colored operation, the defensive shield, our masses in every city, refugee camp, village and in every town, were steadfast in the face of occupation, siege, massacres and aggression.
Our masses and our Palestine National Authority have suffered huge sacrifices over the last two years, so much so that no city or a refugee camp or a village or a house or a hut was spared. None was not an Israeli military target, of their tanks and air planes, or a target of their strangulating siege imposed on our towns and villages. Israeli occupation military check points were erected everywhere. Israeli bombs hit school-children and mothers. They destroyed homes over their inhabitants. History is the witness on what happened to the Jenin refugee camp and in Jenin itself. The Israeli crime against our people will remain witness whether they were perpetrated against our people in this heroic refugee camp of Jenin or in that of Balata, or Askar, or Nour Shams, Aida, or Fawar, in Dheisha or in Amari, in Qaddura or in the other refugee camps; whether these crimes were perpetrated in Nablus or in its Old City where the Israelis destroyed one of the oldest churches and mosques, and where our brothers, the Samaritans meet and of whose presence among us we are proud; whether in Ramalla or in Bethlehem, or in the Church of the Nativity, that is holy to both Moslems and Christians; whether in Gaza or in Jabalia, in Khan Younis or in Deir Al-Balah, in Rafah or in its refugee camp, in Abassan or in Beit Hanoun, in Tulkarem or in Qalqilya or in Hebron; in the presidential headquarters in various district and governorates or in the total destruction of the Gaza International Airport; or in the destruction of the airplanes, the seaport, the ministries, the broadcasting and television station, or in dissecting the Gaza Strip into separate and divided cantons.
Sisters and Brothers, the road to freedom, independence and dignity was never paved or spread out with flowers and roses. Indeed it is paved with steadfastness, perseverance, resilience, persistence and the capability to confront aggression and the aggressors. The conspiracy against your people and your homeland, to deprive us of our freedom, independence and state has never stopped. Its chapters are still unfolding. Ever since the night of 29 March last, we are being subjected to a comprehensive Israeli aggression with all sorts of weapons, be they tanks, airplanes, missiles, including the internationally prohibited weapons. Yet we had nothing but to be steadfast and patient in the wake of this military siege of our towns, refugee camps, the presidential headquarters in Ramalla, the holy Church of the Nativity and the Mosque of Omar in Bethlehem. Despite lifting the siege off the presidential headquarters and the Church of the Nativity in the most difficult of circumstances, I would like to remind you that the agreement reached with the US and the European representatives was that the occupation forces should start by lifting the siege first off the Church of the Nativity. Despite that, the Israeli government, continues its daily penetrations and aggressions in all areas indifferent to the increasing international condemnation of its aggressions and crimes. Indeed, the Government of Israel has forbidden the arrival of the international investigation committee to investigate the crime committed by the occupation army against our people in the Jenin refugee camp. It has furthermore, put incapacitating conditions in front of the international conference. I would like to greet President Bush who has called for the establishment of the independent State of Palestine at the UN General Assembly which we both attended together. He is the first US President to declare this position.
I know, dear sisters and brothers, that there are some remarks on what has been agreed upon concerning the brothers in Ramalla and Bethlehem, in terms of lifting the siege and withdrawing the occupation forces. I bear full responsibility for all that has happened, especially that what has been done was international, US, European, Russian and UN proposals and assurances in the wake of these critical and difficult circumstances, which you know and in which I do not want to delve in, as a result of the situation and the circumstances which you all know. I leave it to you to assess these developments in sincerity, honestly and openness. There is no march in which there are no mistakes. I want you to assess it faraway from emotions and effects, so that we will be honest in confronting what our people and our cause are facing on all levels.
Brother speaker of the PLC,
Sisters and brothers, members of the PLC,
The Israeli aggression against our people is existent, continuous and escalating as long as occupation and settlements are sitting on our land and laying prone on our people. In this bloody and ongoing steadfastness and persistence (it is enough to see Fares Audeh and young girl confronting an Israeli tank with a stone), we are in a great need to review our planes and policies in order to rectify and correct our march towards national independence in all honesty, sincerity faithfulness and firmness
Be sure We shall test you
With something of fear
And hunger, some loss
In goods or lives or the fruits
(Of your toil), but give
Glad tidings - to those
Who patiently persevere,-
Who say, when affected
With calamity: "to God
We belong, and to Him
Is our return":-
In this regard, we have lately declared, and we declare it today, that we reject the operations that target the Israeli civilians as well as what the Palestinian civilians are exposed to as has happened in Jenin or in "Jeningrad". Palestine and Arab public opinion have arrived to this conviction, that these operations do not serve our aims. Indeed they incite many and big segments of the international community against us, an international community that has created Israel and provided it with money, arms and protection which is controversial. I call upon your esteemed Council to stop at this dangerous issue which is controversial in our Palestinian and Arab arena. Let us remember the Houdaibiyya Conciliation Accord out of our concern for the national and pan-Arab interest of our people and nation, and out of our concern for strengthening international solidarity with your people and your cause. I call, as well, upon your Council to sponsor a comprehensive in-depth national dialogue on all our political issues which are of precedence to our national, pan-Arab and international concerns, the quintessence of which is the consolidation and pivotization of our national struggle, in all its forms, in order to realize our people's dream of establishing the independent State of Palestine, with Holy Jerusalem as its capital, on our land, occupied in 1967, as was decided by our PNC at the declaration of Independence and establishment of the Independent State in its meeting in Algiers in 1988.
Brother speaker of the PLC,
Sisters and brothers members of the PLC,
Following this Israeli aggression, our internal situation and political system require from us to make a comprehensive review of all aspects of our national life. You know that we have established our political system on the basis of democracy and free and fair elections that were surprised by leaders from all over the globe. We have established our security institutions, National Security Forces and police within the framework of a preconceived concept that the intermediate phase, mentioned in Oslo, will come to an end in 1999. Following that we will review the political, administrative and security structures of our state. Yet things developed in a totally different direction following the refusal by the Government of Israel to uphold and carry out the agreements. Ever since that time, it has waged this unjust war against us and against our land, people and Christian and Islamic holy places.
Allow me, sisters and brothers, to raise with you, in honesty and with full responsibility, the issue a quick preparation of elections, to conduct the elections wherever possible on all official and popular levels, to adopt free elections as the basic means to choose the leadership whether in the institutions of national society or in the organizations, or in the unions and in the trade unions, and in the popular institutions as basic instruments of building civil society, to abide by the principle of separation of powers in the judicial, legislative and executive branches, to maintain national unity and human rights. As a result of the experience in building the Administration and the Authority I call for the revision of all of our administrative, ministerial and security apparatus formations, after some shortcomings appeared here and there, which can not be kept concealed from public opinion who is scorched by the fire of Israeli occupation. We have all exerted efforts in construction and work. We might have committed an error here or there, in this or in that responsibility. But we have upheld the trust and maintained the national objectives at the forefront of which is independence, freedom and the independent State of Palestine, with Holy Jerusalem as its capital,
And to enter your Temple
As they had entered it before, ..
When I speak thus, I mean all occupied Arab territories in accordance with
the Madrid conference.
Source: at http://www.imra.org.il/