Seal of the Palestinian National Authority

 

Palestinian National Authority
Prime Minister's Office
Address of the Prime Minister
Salam Fayyad
 
At

Al Quds University

Abu Dis
22 June 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please allow me first to express to you my profound happiness and appreciation for allowing me this opportunity to be with you today at the Al Quds University – this academic edifice which our Palestinian people and residents of Jerusalem have constructed to contribute to protecting the historical, intellectual and academic status of the holy city. Therefore, the city of Jerusalem will remain, as it has always been, a beacon of knowledge, coexisting civilisations, developing cultures, and various disciplines of science. I feel much pride and confidence in the future as I stand before a select number of prominent figures of science, experience and intelligentsia at the Al Quds University, which continues to defend the academic and scientific status of the Flower of Cities and the Capital of Capitals, in the premises of the Al Aqsa Mosque and Church of Holy Sepulchre, which are united by a history of religious coexistence that embodies tolerance of the Palestinian people, including both Muslims and Christians, and longing to restore their status and openness to nations and cultures of the world as well as tangible contribution to human development and civilization.

The scent of history that stretches over the walls, lanes, streets, mosques, churches, architecture, museums and libraries of Jerusalem meritoriously make a title of perseverance and a guardian of right, history, and identity of the soul and place. It thus turns over pages of pain, suffering and attempts to wipe out and distort its face that is illuminated with Arab Palestinian distinctive features and heart that is full of hope and confidence of a promising future for our people and their right to freedom, independence, development, prosperity, and knowledge.

We meet today, Ladies and Gentlemen, at a time Jerusalem suffers from the policy of isolation, the Wall, settlement activity, house demolitions, and restrictions imposed on our people in the city in line with a settlement policy that seeks to alter the city as well as its landmarks as well as its geographical and demographic status, isolate it from its Palestinian surroundings, and impose de facto solutions on it. However, perseverance of the city and its residents against these schemes will remain to unite our people, which is corroborated by a history of struggle by people who are determined to end the occupation of their land, attain their freedom and independence, and build their independent, fully sovereign State, with Jerusalem as its capital, on the 1967 border.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I stand before you here at the Al Quds University, I recall the scene of a large billboard in the plaza of the Unknown Soldier in Gaza. I do not know whether this billboard is still present until this day. I do hope it is; it exhibits a beautiful picture of Jerusalem and our late President Yasser Arafat (Abu Ammar) with his famous saying: “He who forfeits you Jerusalem shall not be amongst us nor be one of us”. Reiterating this saying, I further state that East Jerusalem shall not be but the eternal capital of our independent State. This is the city of Jerusalem: the city of prayers, cradle of three monotheistic religions, symbol of coexisting civilisations and cultures, and beacon of science, thought, and knowledge. All these shall be embodied by Jerusalem for eternity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have meant for that this meeting, which follows the formation of the new Government, be held in the premises of Jerusalem because it embodies the strife and unity of our people, their determination to salvation from the occupation, and to be held at the heart of an academic institution so that we jointly address the mind, scrutinize current challenges, and define horizons of the future and approach of our work to accomplish our national project. In this context, please allow me to present to you, and to our people through you, the vision of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) of this reality and the specific tasks lying ahead of us.

On the national and political level, it is clear that the Israeli occupation has benefited from the state of Palestinian fragmentation over the past two years, firstly by consolidating the isolation of the Gaza Strip through the siege and offensive, and secondly by escalated settlement activity in the West Bank, particularly in and around the city of Jerusalem. Furthermore, Israel has intensified its security measures, including incursions, checkpoints, and arrests which, if sustained, will only lead to undermining efforts made by the PNA to establish security, public order and rule of law. These will also jeopardize international efforts made to ensure that the two-state solution is implemented.

In contrast, the PNA has taken action over the past two years and dedicated all of its capacities to terminate the state of fragmentation and to safeguard the national project by rebuilding PNA institutions and creating the required conditions to launch a national dialogue that ensures that division is ended and unity redeemed to the homeland and national institutions, in line with President Abu Mazen’s initiative announced in early June 2008. The PNA has always considered that the supreme national priority of our people is to mobilize all efforts towards ending the occupation and building institutions of the independent State. The PNA has also devoted all of its capacities to confront challenges generated by the internal fragmentation and respective danger on the national project and to protect this project from collapsing. We recognize the close link between the mission to end the occupation, attain national liberation, promote the ability to persevere, and protect the land and the mission of internal institution building as we approach statehood. Consolidation of our internal situation is an essential part and major component of our endeavor to end the occupation and establish the State.

It is time now to resolve the debate and obscurity surrounding the role and status of the PNA, which has led to dealing with it as if it were a party taking among others, thereby providing the grounds for a dual authority and resulting in a serious deterioration in the security field that has threatened the Palestinian political system, unity of the homeland, and the national project as a whole. The PNA, Ladies and Gentlemen, constitutes the cornerstone in the Palestinian political system insomuch as it is an executive tool on the territory of the homeland that establishes institutions of the State. Hence, its unified status must be adopted as a home that shelters everybody and that consolidates their potentials to accomplish this goal.

Notwithstanding the occupation, the Government has based its action over the past two years on the concept of building toward statehood despite the occupation in order to end it. The idea here is to build the State through creating institutions that are strong and capable of delivering services to citizens in an effective and fair manner and within a framework of a clear vision that aims to create and establish requirements of everything that may expedite salvation from the occupation. As I stated earlier, “there is no Palestinian partner for improving the quality of the occupation- there is only a Palestinian partner for ending the occupation”.

To this avail, I hereby call upon all Palestinians to work towards terminating the state of fragmentation and the mindset underpinning it - as if there is a party of resistance and another of bargains, patriotic and less patriotic, or cautious and ardent and less cautious and ardent.

Let us, Ladies and Gentlemen, apply reason. In this context, I call on every one of our people to unify and support the statehood program, including building, consolidating and strengthening the State institutions within a framework of good governance and effective management, so that the Palestinian State becomes - by the end of next year or within two years at most – a firm reality that bolsters our people’s self-confidence and capability of making achievements in the aftermath of prolonged decades of occupation and consequent frustration. The attainment of this goal will undoubtedly lead to an agreement that the Palestinian people has come to own a State that is, by all standards, a successful State and an element of stability in the region, one capable of delivering governance and administration in line with best international practice.

The achievement of this target within two years is possible and is worthy of support. All efforts should be made available to ensure its success. It will confront the whole world with the political requirement to end the occupation, as well as to empower our people to live free in their homeland, exercise their right to self-determination, and realise their independent, free, democratic, modern and stable State which adheres to principles of human rights and equality under the law and without discrimination on any grounds whatsoever.

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, we want a State that is distinguished by its Arab culture and open to the cultures of the world, highest human values, and religious tolerance... a State, all citizens of which will be proud of and feel allegiance to ... a State that attracts competencies, potentials and investments. This is the State which we long for, not fragmented entities or cantons.

This is our vision of our desired Palestinian State, and I call on our people to bolster and make every effort to realize it. There is a plethora of achievements that have been made since the PNA was constituted. Over the past two years, the PNA has managed to make remarkable progress in the process of rebuilding and empowering Palestinian institutions to better deliver services to citizens, particularly in regard of establishing the rule of law, promoting safety and security, rebuilding the PNA’s financial system in accordance with the best financial norms, and repaying all the PNA’s debts, thereby enhancing confidence in its ability to fulfil its financial obligations. In addition, the PNA has set forth partnership structures that enable the private sector and civil society to advance economic and social development. The PNA has also implemented hundreds of community development projects that further support the perseverance of our citizens, especially in marginalized, rural, Bedouin and threatened localities as well as in areas most affected by the Wall and settlement activity. The PNA has developed health, social and educational services. There is still much ahead of us to achieve and build on.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

To realize our goals, we have fully committed ourselves to achieve the higher interests of our people. We have managed to create international consensus on the need for both parties to the conflict to fulfil their obligations in the peace process. The PNA has adhered to its Road Map obligations and has made progress in establishing the rule of law, ensuring safety and security, promoting the role of institutions and their capacity to deliver public services. All of this has elicited an international stance that hopefully will lead Israel to implement its own Road Map obligations. Those obligations include a comprehensive cessation of settlement activity and incursions, the lifting of the siege, and ending the occupation.

Now that we have succeeded in creating this international consensus, I call once again on all Palestinians to unite and prevent Israel from taking advantage of our internal division to ignore its own Road Map obligations. It is natural to have different political leanings and opinions in the Palestinian arena as exists in other democracies. However, it is unreasonable for this political plurality to be used to weaken international support for the Palestinian cause. While embracing our political differences, we should remain focused on our Palestinian national aspiration.. We reiterate the importance of continuing the national unity dialogue in a manner respectful of political pluralism without resorting to violence or the imposition of opinions.

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have managed through our achievements in the field of the rule of law and the provision of safety and security to convert the international position from a sword hanging over our heads and over our people’s national rights into an international position that compels Israel to implement its obligations under the Road Map. This would not have been attainable without our people’s awareness, recognition and support of our vision.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I see that the need to support our vision today is more compelling, given the prevalent attempts in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Address to circumvent the international position of holding Israel accountable to its Road Map obligations. Having sided with the earlier Israeli narrative regarding the essence of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which has failed thus far to lead to peace and end the conflict, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Address adopted a more vague and less committed approach to the concept of the two-state solution as compared to the June 2003 declaration of the Israeli Government, of which he was a member. Based on our bitter experience over the past six years, our people are well justified in raising substantial doubts on whether the current Israeli discourse forms the political ground necessary for the realization of a two-state solution. In any case, we believe that the international community should persist in demanding that Israel adhere to its Road Map obligations in order to realize the two-state solution paving the way to peace in the region. These obligations fall under internationally recognized agreements, including the Roadmap, which the Israeli Prime Minister failed to mention in his Address. To reiterate, these obligations entail a complete cessation of settlement activity, the lifting of the siege imposed on our people, particularly on the Gaza Strip, and the halting of incursions into PNA-controlled territory as a prelude to launching a balanced political process that leads to ending the occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian State, and a just and agreed resolution to the refugee issue in accordance with UNGA Resolution 194.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Affirming this position, the PNA anticipates that the international will community meet its political, legal and moral responsibilities for binding Israel to the foundations and terms of reference of the political process, thereby leading to an end of the occupation. This is the will of our people and our position, which we will never abandon. How can our people regain confidence in a political process that aims to end the occupation, yet its first approach is not to cease all forms of settlement activity? How can owners of demolished homes or homes under the threat of demolition, owners of land threatened of being confiscated or those prevented from cultivating their land or harvesting their crops, Jerusalemites whose city is being isolated, or our besieged and displaced people in the Gaza Strip, have confidence in a political process as they are simultaneously subjected to all these measures? The political process will never be credible unless Israel adheres to and fulfils its obligations, the first and foremost of which is the cessation of settlement activity, stopping incursions and the lifting of the siege.

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, this is no longer possible, and we are confident that the world is aware as well of the futility of the current circumstances. Our people hope that this awareness be translated into tangible, practical steps so that the political process can restore its credibility.

Accomplishment of this should come in tandem with doing away with the long held misconception of always exerting more pressure on the weaker party in a conflict in order to reach a settlement, as if there are no limits for the concessions it can make. In addition to the fact that this has corroded the structure and parameters of the negotiations process, this issue has reached a point that poses a serious threat to the possibility of reaching a solution. The parameters of the political process cannot be dictated by what Israel accepts or offers. Israel, and the whole world, must recall that the Palestinian people offered in the Palestinian Peace Initiative of 1988 a historical and painful concession, as they unequivocally accepted, for the first time in the history of the conflict, to establish their independent State on only 22 percent of the area of Historic Palestine. Unless Israel recognizes the great value of this concession and an agreement, which is grounded on the implementation of international resolutions, is reached, there will not be a just and lasting solution to the conflict.

Having been fostered by Arab and Islamic countries, the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative has placed the Palestinian Peace Initiative within the context of a comprehensive political settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict based on the land-for-peace concept. This Initiative has provided, and still provides, a historical opportunity for a just and comprehensive peace in the region. Any attempts to overlook its content or neglect the essence of the conflict, which is to end the occupation of all Arab and Palestinian territories, will only bring about more tension, turmoil, and instability in the region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Adhering to our national responsibilities for realizing our people’s national rights and the establishment of an independent State requires our collective support of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), not in any way undermining its status as the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and strengthening the commitment to its national program, which calls for ending the occupation, building an independent, fully sovereign State with Jerusalem as its capital on the 1967 border, and reaching a just and agreed solution of the refugees problem in accordance with international resolutions, particularly Resolution 194 and the Arab Peace Initiative. This also requires that Arab countries intensify their efforts in support of the Arab Peace Initiative and pushing the international community to assume its responsibilities in insisting that Israel comply with its obligations and the requirements of the peace process within a clear, definite and final timeframe for concluding the negotiations process.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

this is the path towards the accomplishment of a just, lasting peace settlement- not to negotiate for the sake of negotiation. This is the position of the Palestinian people and their National Authority with regards to what is needed in order to reach a just peace. We expect of the international community, members of the Quartet in particular, to have learned the lessons from the risks and experiences faced in the past few years..

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Based on this vision, please allow me to set forth to you, and to our people through you, the major components of the PNA’s national agenda and our attempts to operate within a clear framework that ensures further popular support of this agenda, which will enable us to accelerate the building process of the institutions of our independent State. At the forefront of this agenda lies the objective to create all the proper conditions for ending the state of fragmentation, to unify the homeland, and, ultimately, lift the siege imposed on our people, and handle the tragic situation under which our people in the Gaza Strip live. Constructively dealing with the existing reality will restore Gaza’s role within the national project and within the process of building the Palestinian State. This demands that we exert more effort in order to expedite and end the state of division within a framework of national consensus that paves the way to holding the national elections on their constitutionally mandated date in January 2010.

Insomuch as this is a constitutional requirement, it is a natural right of citizens that should not be transgressed.

In parallel, the international community must meet its responsibilities in order to enable us to rebuild what the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip destroyed. The fulfilment of financial pledges announced at the Sharm El-Sheikh Summit Conference would enable the PNA to implement its reconstruction program and oblige Israel to lift the siege on Gaza, ensuring the free movement of persons and goods, including necessary construction materials.

Before you, I hereby announce that the Government is committed to persistently pursuing this issue and call for a displaying of good judgement and responsibility in dealing with it. The international community should persist in pushing for the removal of the siege imposed on Gaza and open all crossing points. I also confirm the Government’s ongoing commitment to provide all possible financial support to our people in the Gaza Strip. Over the past two years, Gaza-related government expenditure amounted to USD 120 million per month; i.e. a total of USD 2.9 billion. In this context, the Government reiterates its call to avoid policies of alienation which impede our institutions’ abilities to deliver public services, particularly health, education, social, and economic services. The Government also affirms its continued commitment to equal and just distribution of services. To this effect, I commend the Ministry of Education for the efforts it has undertaken to protect the Palestinian educational system and to complete preparation for high school examinations. I wish our high school students the best of luck in their examinations, and hope that they will experience success and outstanding achievement. I also praise the Ministry of Health for its efforts, in spite of all the obstacles, to provide medical attention to citizens injured during the Israeli attack, and to provide the necessary medical equipment to health care centres so that they can perform their tasks. I also praise them for their treatment of citizens outside Gaza, for whom Gazan hospitals could not offer proper medical care.

We affirm our commitment to bolster and develop all forms of cooperation and integration with civil society and international organisations working in the Gaza Strip to alleviate the suffering of our people and provide for their basic needs. We reiterate our rejection of all infringements of citizens’ rights and attacks on freedoms and public institutions. We also call on international bodies and human rights groups to provide legal protection for our people in Gaza against all forms of collective punishment imposed by Israel, and against all forms of abuse by the de facto authority.

Our national agenda is based on the principle of strengthening the rule of law, establishing public security and order, and achieving justice. This includes continuing institution and capacity building in the security sector in order to enforce public security and the rule of law in line with respect for human rights and professionalism. In this context, I reaffirm once again that there is no room for more than one authority or one. The PNA alone has jurisdiction over security, thereby preventing any individual or group from taking the law into their own hands.

Establishing security and stability also demands that we structure and develop the justice sector, including all its components, thereby promoting judicial independence, safeguarding its impartiality, and strengthening its ability to deliver judgments fairly by providing equality before the law.

Our national agenda also provides for the fostering of our people’s ability to persevere in order to protect their lands, confront settlement activity and the Wall, and defend our presence in Jerusalem. In this regard, one of our vision’s priorities is to provide and nurture conditions that support our people in their efforts to participate in the peaceful popular movement against the Wall, against settlement activity, and to protect Jerusalem and its Palestinian status against the hazards of the settlement project, home demolitions, and evictions, amongst other things.

The popular committees set up to organize activities against the building of the separation Wall, land confiscation and home demolitions in Palestinian towns and villages such as Bil’in, Ni’lin, Al Ma’sara, Silwan, and Sheikh Jarrah, provide an example for us all to follow. Here, I reiterate the PNA’s support for peaceful popular movements and call on our people to participate more in their activities. I also call on all ministries, official bodies, civil society organisations, and private institutions to uphold their responsibility to prohibit the entry of settlement products into the Palestinian market. I call on all nations to confirm their commitment to international law, particularly the ICJ Advisory Opinion, and prohibit the import of settlement products. I would also ask that they not invest, either directly or indirectly, in any activity that supports or consolidates any form of settlement activity.

The issue of prisoners being held in Israeli prisons, whose detention there violates international law, will remain one of the most salient priorities for the PLO and PNA. We will work towards the release of all Palestinian detainees held in Israeli prisons, irrespective of political affiliation. The PLO and PNA will also bear the responsibility for securing their needs, ensuring a decent life for their families, and reintegrating them into society once they are released. The PNA reaffirms its unwavering position that the freedom of Palestinian prisoners is part of the freedom of the homeland. In this regard, I applaud the efforts exerted by the Abu Jihad Museum for Palestinian Prisoners Affairs at the Al Quds University in documenting this issue and supporting the perseverance of prisoners and the prisoners release movement.

With respect to economic activity and social services, enhancing local market capacity, restructuring the investment environment, promoting our national products and encouraging partnerships with the private sector will be forefront objectives on our national agenda. Our aim is to help invigorate the economy and alleviate the problems of poverty and unemployment. The process for meeting our objectives will include the development of social security systems and the expansion of the Social Safety Network, in ways that will enable our people to cope with the difficult conditions imposed by the occupation and its practices. Ladies and Gentlemen, at this stage, we reaffirm our commitment to meeting the requirements of the social services sector and expanding its programs, to include provision of care and protection to disadvantaged groups and to those with special needs as well as attain a maximum level of social justice.

At the heart of our national agenda is the promotion of quality education, cultural openness, and protection of heritage. Despite the fact that PNA meets basic needs in the education field, current educational output necessitates that we focus attention on the type, quality and capacity of education to provide the market with competent manpower that is capable of developing economic and social conditions in order to reach a knowledge-based community. As we are here at the Al Quds University, I call on universities to foster openness to the society and its needs, encourage scientific research, and take part in building pillars of the Palestinian State. The Government will continue to provide support that enables universities to perform their mission competently.

On the cultural level, our people’s and institutions’ engagement in activities as part of the Jerusalem the Capital of Arab Culture – 2009 has constituted an inclusive and significant national occasion not only to highlight the status of Jerusalem, but also promote the cultural project which is open to the world and its cultures. This will enable us to confront all attempts of effacement, repression, and seclusion, and corroborate the feeling of national affiliation, as well as the values of tolerance and the freedom of expression, thought and creativity. Probably the most important endeavor to fulfil on this occasion is to encourage our Arab neighbours to visit Jerusalem, reminding you of the saying of the late Feisal al Husseini, the Prince of Jerusalem, “To visit a prisoner is a matter of solidarity with him, not a normalization with the jailer”.

In addition, our national agenda is based on the principle of advancing the status of women and youth as well as the role of civil society institutions in fostering development.

This demands that we design the most effective plans that empower and protect women against marginalization and alienation and develop laws that protect women, their status, right to equality, and equal opportunities, thereby ensuring women’s full participation in the process of building and development. This will also require that we continue to sponsor the youth sector, safeguard their opportunities in creativity, effective participation in the society, and promotion of the spirit of national belonging, voluntary activities, and participation.

The achievement of these goals and others in the field of community development demands more consolidated cooperation, integration, confidence, and joint work with civil society organisations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since this Government took office, we vowed to bolster and build on the achievements made by the Twelfth Government and former Governments through: continuing the assumption of our national responsibility in creating an environment conducive of advancing the national dialogue as a high priority on the Government’s agenda, the ongoing work to reinforce stability, rule of law and order, and to build strong institutions capable of serving our citizens and protecting their interests, particularly our people in the Gaza Strip. The Government will also continue to implement the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan (PRDP), including all development programs and projects in rural areas as well as the rest of the Palestinian territory in order to support our citizens’ steadfastness and their perseverance in confronting intensified settlement activities and plans to isolate Jerusalem from its Palestinian surroundings and to change its demographic and cultural reality.

We have instructed the various ministries and governmental bodies to develop a detailed workplan driven by the objective to complete and finalize the building of strong, capable and effective institutions of the Palestinian state within two years. I have already presented to you the components of our national agenda and some ideas pertaining to our vision for the forthcoming phase, as part of a framework to develop a collective and comprehensive vision, on both a public and a sectoral level, of the PNA’s tasks over the next two years.

Realizing our future State requires an intense and extraordinary effort to complete the institution building process in a manner that will enable the PNA to effectively and efficiently undertake its responsibilities. This requires the adoption of a new approach which entails putting together a detailed workplan for the PNA which addresses all the various elements of governance, administration, and institution-building, responsible for securing the necessary components of an independent Palestinian State.

The achievement of this vision and the implementation of the national agenda demands that the Government functions on the basis of a collectively agreed-upon approach in the various areas. The government would be held accountable before all citizens on the grounds of its adherence and commitment in the implementation of this approach.

Although the President will always remain the main point of reference for the government, we are also answerable to all of our citizens and institutions, especially, in light of the inability of the Legislative Council to function, which we truly hope will end soon. Stemming from our faith in partnering with everybody in order to realize our higher national interests, we are adamant on maintaining open lines of communication with civil society institutions and other organizations.

We also find it appropriate that we request from the President and the Executive Committee to call on the Central Council to convene and examine the contents of the program we are designing and the Government agenda we are setting. This may constitute one of the ways to reactivate the Palestinian political system, particularly the PLO and its respective bodies, which may also entail rearranging and setting new priorities and developing a national policy agenda that may be outlined in a national document, which the Government can develop as part of its contribution to the national effort aimed at streamlining the Government’s actions on the political and negotiations tracks.

We insist that our approaches and the steps we take be a matter of national consensus because they aim to create a reality which we aspire to achieve and not a reality imposed on us; they establish a new era of partnership and open dialogue with the various groups and organizations within our society. Our approach will also help raise the public’s awareness of the endgame and the limited time span of the interim period. They will create, on the ground, the primary facts required for state building, thereby binding the international community to recognize that the reality created on the ground is that of an independent state albeit under occupation. This will allow us to form an organic link between the larger political file and what the government does as part of its daily tasks and responsibilities.

Accomplishing our vision of finalizing the building of institutions of the State of Palestine within two years will enable us to swing back the position of the international community in support of our right to an independent, fully sovereign State on the 1967 border and with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Finally, before I conclude my address, I would like to address our Israeli neighbours from this academic institution, the Al Quds University: we have listened the your Prime Minister’s speech, about a week ago, in which he predominantly emphasized and referenced the earlier Israeli narrative on the root causes of the conflict and in which he highlighted his own vision for ending it. That, of course, is his prerogative. Nonetheless, there is no need for me to remind you that we, Palestinians, have a completely different historical narrative. I do not wish to dwell on our narrative today. However, all I wish to say in this regard is that as much as I expect that the Palestinian historical narrative is unacceptable to you, it should not be expected to be acceptable that the Israeli narrative be adopted as the basis for resolving the conflict, if the resolution is to be a fair and a lasting one. In any event, if it is understandable, if not indeed eminently logical, for the debate on these two narratives to have occurred in the pre peace process era, I do not believe it is constructive to revisit this debate today, sixteen years after Oslo, twenty-one years since we, Palestinians, declared our acceptance of the two-state solution, and six years since the Israeli government accepted President Bush’s vision to end the occupation which started in 1967 and establish a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security.

Our Israeli neighbours: you have your own history, your pain, your worries and aspirations. We, too, we have our own history, and today, we have many worries and much pain. But we have one main aspiration: to have what is a natural right of all nations around the world- which is to live in freedom and dignity in a homeland of our own. We aspire to establish our state alongside your own through a meaningful peace that sets the stage for normal relations and cooperation in various fields, in the context of good neighborly relations. We aspire to achieve a peace in which both sides can realize the benefits of coexistence and equality in various areas. We don’t want to erect walls, we want to build bridges. We don’t want to exclude you from our lives, but to live with you on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit in the areas of economic development, security, stability and other areas of cooperation that are governed by the norms of international relations. Toward that end, we are in the final stages of completing the structure of the Palestinian state which we hope will make a qualitative addition to the region and that which would contribute to achieving peace and prosperity for our peoples and all others in our region. We also need to finalize a negotiated agreement on all final status issues. This is a must.

This is possible and realistic if we share the common goal of making peace and not just simply talking about it. Our hands are extended to make genuine peace Ladies and Gentlemen, in conclusion, I would like to state to you and to our people that reaching a just and lasting peace, that allows us to realize our national rights, will continue be the priority that guides our work. To achieve this goal, our role will be focused on promoting the unity of our people and their ability to persevere and live on their land and build their future in their own independent State. We will continue to devote all our energies to serving our people, providing a decent standard of living for them, and supporting their right to protect their land.

This is our land... This is our homeland and we have no other

The occupation will end and we will build our State

On this land we shall remain

God bless you

Peace be upon you

Thank you



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