January, 28 2001
Ladies and Gentlemen,
leaders and members of the participating delegations
Ladies and Gentlemen
Allow me first, Mr. President,
to convey to you, a special greeting on convening this important economic
forum. I would like to express to you, as well, our sincerest thanks and
our deepest appreciation for your kind invitation...
When we talk about economics,
there is no way but to talk about politics because of its great influence
The current Government
of Israel is waging, for the last four months, a savage and barbaric war,
as well as, a blatant and fascist military aggression against our Palestinian
people. In this aggression it is using internationally prohibited weapons
and ammunitions that include in their construction depleted uranium. In
addition, Israel is laying against us total siege, indeed, worse than that,
it is imposing this siege against every village and town. It is prohibiting
the freedom of movement and travel of our people. It is jeopardizing the
basic human rights of our Palestinian citizens, dismissing our workers,
closing our factories, destroying a number of these, so much so that 90%
of our workers are forcibly unemployed, destroying our farms and fruit
trees and prohibiting export and import, indeed it is forbidding us to
receive, from brothers and friends, donated provisions. All this is in
violation of all resolutions of international legality, the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, International Human Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention
relating to the Protection of Civilians in Times of War.
Have you seen a more ugly
policy than this policy of collective punishment or more destruction in
the contemporary age? Israel is putting all of our people in confrontation
with this dangerous military escalation, and its occupational, settlement,
aggressive and armed expansionism as well as in confrontation with its
dreams of achieving territorial and regional gains at the expense of our
people, in a manner, which is in contravention of international legality
and the rights of our Palestinian people to their land, Christian and Islamic
holy places and to their natural resources.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
leaders and members of the delegations,
Whoever wants really to
achieve peace and seeks it with belief and sincerity, does not resort to
killing, persecution, assassination, destruction and devastation as the
Government of Israel and its army of occupation are doing to our people
these days and since four continuous months. The number of Palestinian
martyrs has exceeded the four hundred. The number of injured persons has
exceeded seventeen thousand, of whom 5439 are children. These are the human
losses and damages. The grand total, so far, of the economic and financial
losses in all sectors, as a result of destruction caused by the Israeli
occupational military machine, to the infrastructures and to public and
private property and other losses is US $ billion 2,4 including the heavy
losses inflicted on the Palestinian farmers as a result of cutting more
than one hundred thousand trees and leveling of 10000 dunums of land (1
dunum = 1000 m2). This, of course, leaves destructive consequences on the
livelihood of the Palestinian citizens and the Palestinian investment.
Added to these losses should be those caused by the Israeli shells, from
tanks, artillery, planes and rockets, to the buildings, establishments,
installations and institutions, such as schools, colleges, churches and
This is a very short resume?
of what has befallen our society in terms of dire human and material losses
and as a result of the situation of total siege and closure. As a result,
the percentage of those who are living under the lineof poverty has risen
to 75% and general national income has decreased sharply in millions of
US dollars annually.
While we confirm to you,
dear friends once more, our adherence to a comprehensive, just and permanent
peace, the peace of the brave, as a firm strategic choice of our Palestinian
people, we look up to you, and to the United Nations and to all justice-,
freedom-, peace- and democracy - loving forces the world over, and to all
brothers and friends, to approach the vital and influential international
forces in the world, so as to bear their moral and human responsibilities
in order to work in sincerity, objectivity, neutrality and fairness, to
find a quick and just solution to the Issue of Palestine, in accordance
with the spirit of right and justice and the international resolutions
related to Palestine.
You know, ladies and gentlemen,
that we have made great concessions and sacrifices in order to achieve
comprehensive, just and permanent peace. Yes, indeed, we have accepted
less than one quarter of the total area of historic Palestine. We accepted,
at the Madrid Peace Conference, the principle of land for peace on the
basis of [UN] Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 which call for the
withdrawal of Israel, the occupying power, from all Arab and Palestinian
occupied territories, including Holy Jerusalem, to the fourth of June border
lines; the dismantling of every thing the occupation has built in terms
of settlements and settlement structures that have no basis of legality;
and the implementation of [UN General Assembly] Resolution 194 on the Palestinian
refugees. We have achieved, as well, peace agreements with my late partner
Yitzhak Rabin, in making the peace of the brave, which guarantees us the
establishment of our independent Palestinian state, with holy Jerusalem
as its capital.
We look forward to the
whole international community, the United Nations Organization and the
vital and influential international forces, to work for ending this Israeli
war and aggression against our unarmed people; a war and an aggression
which constitute a flagrant and blatant violation of the Fourth Geneva
Convention relating to the Protection of Civilians in Times of War. We
ask for the provision of international protection for our people immediately,
the lifting of the siege and closure and the ending of this escalating
Our Palestinian people,
ladies and gentlemen, look up to you to help them in realizing their inalienable
legitimate national rights so as to be able to march forward on the road
of development and construction of their homeland, to catch up with the
developed and advanced course of international economy, and to live with
dignity, freedom, sovereignty and independence in their homeland, Palestine,
like all other peoples and states in the region and the world, in a framework
of confidence, mutual respect and good neighborliness with their surroundings.
Finally, we reiterate
our thanks to you, Mr. President, for inviting us, and for giving us the
opportunity to address this august Forum. We wish you success and good
luck in realizing the noble aims of this meeting. We express our sincere
hope and firm desire to have the honor to invite you all on a very close
day, God be willing, to convene your Forum in Holy Jerusalem, the capital
of the independent State of Palestine.
Peace be with you all
CNN Jerusalem Bureau Chief
Mike Hanna contributed to this report.
Arafat followed Peres' comments by
speaking in English, which the Palestinian leader does not do often. "We
will continue together," Arafat said, shaking Peres' hand as the audience
Despite Peres' and Arafat's return to
using the phrase "partner in peace" for each other, the Palestinian Authority
president did issue an angry denunciation of measures he said Israel was
taking against the Palestinian people.
"I wouldn't wish an Israeli child to
live a single hour of the lives that Palestinian children are now having
to live, suffering under repression and bombardment," Arafat said.
Arafat blamed "extremists in both camps"
for blocking Israel and the Palestinian Authority from reaching a final
peace agreement. "It is these extremists who murdered Yitzhak Rabin. These
same extremists are now resorting to violence against us, against all of
"We have extremists, too, in our own
camp, in our own ranks," Arafat said. "Of course, there are extremists
everywhere, all over the world ... Despite this we are defending ourselves
against these extremists."
Rabin was assassinated November 4, 1995,
by an ultra-nationalist Jew who was opposed to the then-prime minister's
land-for-peace agreements with the Palestinians.
Peres also denounced so-called extremists
on his side who might take up arms against Palestinians.
"We have extremes," Peres said. "We
don't let extremes use rifles."