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Video & Transcript: Palestine's Abbas at the UN General Assembly

See also Palestine Video and Transcript: Mahmoud Abbas Makes Statehood Bid at UN General Assembly (23 September 2011)

On Friday, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas spoke to the UN General Assembly, blaming Israel for its continued construction of settlements and of the separation wall isolating Jerusalem from the West Bank. While praising Washington's active policy in the region, he said that time was running out for a resolution and the cost of peace was increasing. Moreover, he depicted Hamas, without mentioning the group's name, as the perpetrators of a coup in Gaza,  while assuring the Assembly that Palestinians will form a unity government with the assistance of Egypt.

Transcript of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas's speech at the United Nations General Assembly:

Mr. President, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the suffering of the Palestinian people as a result of Israel's colonial occupation is crystal clear to the world.

Since the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including east Jerusalem in 1967, Israel continues with its settlement policy on all Palestinian land, especially in holy Jerusalem, where that policy is currently being accelerated and escalated through various means including the seizure of the homes of Palestinian inhabitants in the city and the imposition of restrictions and even preventing Palestinians from building and sometimes from repairing their homes, while new settlement neighborhoods are being established. And Jerusalem is becoming completely isolated from its surroundings because of the illegal settlements and the apartheid wall.

We now face a unique situation. If international law stipulates the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, how can we, then, deal with the current situation where Israeli settlement policy will undermine the goal of establishing a geographically contiguous Palestinian state and implementation of the will of the international consensus that has been expressed in the various resolutions and principles, including the roadmap, which we all agreed upon and which is based on the principle of land for peace and ending the occupation that began in 1967.

Immense efforts have been exerted and many conferences have been held during the past years, particularly since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. Yet all of this has not led to a conclusion of this conflict. President Barack Obama has given much hope to our people and the peoples of the region when he announced his vision of a peace agreement on the basis of a two-state solution and the cessation of all settlement activities. We welcomed the active American diplomacy to revive the peace process, and all efforts of the international quartet and its parties, the United Nations, the European Union, and the Russian Federation and the United States.

All of these active efforts and initiatives, which have been welcomed and supported by us and by the Arab states, are, however, confronted with Israeli intransigence, which refuses to adhere to the requirements for relaunching the peace process. How is it conceivable that negotiations can be held on the borders and on Jerusalem at the same time that Israeli bulldozers are working to change the reality on the ground with the aim of creating a new reality and imposing borders as Israel desires? How can one conceive holding negotiations without agreement on the terms of preference and the objective end goal of these negotiations that the whole world has unanimously agreed upon, namely ending the Israeli occupation of the territories occupied in 1967, establishing the state of Palestinian with Jerusalem as its capital, achieving a just and agreed-upon solution to the question of Palestinian refugees on the basis of resolution 194 of 1948 and achieving peace on all Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese tracts as affirmed (ph) by the Arab Peace Initiative which provides a precious opportunity that must be seized upon to achieve peace.

In this regard, I would like to express our deep appreciation for the important speech delivered before this august (ph) body two days ago by President Obama, in which he affirmed the necessity for ending the occupation that began in 1967 and the legitimacy of the settlements. He also stressed the necessity for establishing an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian state and for addressing all of the finance status issues in the negotiations, foremost among these Jerusalem, refugees, borders, water, settlements, and others. We reiterate that adherence to these principles and basis, in addition to a complete freeze of all settlement activities, can salvage the peace process and open horizon for its success.

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, I reaffirm the eagerness of the Palestine Liberation Organization to achieve a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy. At the same time, I caution that the settlement policy and the building of the separation wall, which continue to be pursued by the Israeli occupation, will abort opportunities to relaunch the peace process.

Time is running out and the risks are becoming greater as a result of the continued suffering of the Palestinian people under the last remaining occupation in the world. We call upon the international community to uphold international law and international legitimacy and to exert pressure on Israel to cease its settlement activities, to comply with the signed agreements, and desist from the policies of the occupation and colonial settlements, to release the 10,000 -- correction, the approximately 11,000 prisoners and detainees, to lift -- and to lift the unjust siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, which was subjected months ago to a devastating aggression, causing thousands of casualties among civilians, wreaking unprecedented destruction of infrastructure and public facilities, including even hospitals, mosques, schools, and United Nations facilities.

Ladies and gentlemen, our people, which continues to adhere to its (ph) strikes and to remain in its homeland despite all of the suffering caused by the arrests, the blockade, and the killings, is also keen to end the internal division and to restore national unity. Our sister, Egypt, is making commendable efforts to achieve. And in spite of all our suffering from occupation and its practices, we continue to work to build and develop our national institutions. We have made significant achievements in this regard, both at the level of upholding the rule of law and public order and promoting economic and social development despite the harsh conditions of the occupation and the blockade. We continue to make every possible effort for the success of the efforts of our brothers in Egypt to end the ongoing coup in the Gaza Strip and to restore our national unity by resorting to ballot boxes and holding presidential and legitimate (ph) elections on their constitutional date under the supervision and control of Arab and Islamic countries, the United Nations, and the international community. Thus, democracy will be firmly institutionalized in our political life.

Mr. President, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, hope will remain alive in our shores (ph) and we will not despair of regaining our rights on the basis of relevant resolutions of the United Nations. The historic rule of which we reaffirm for attaining peace and upholding the principle of might for right and not right for might.

From this podium I conclude by reaffirming our commitment to the road map plan, the Arab Peace Initiative and to all terms of reference of the political process. And we call upon all parties to respect and abide by them, to provide the opportunity to launch a successful and effective peace process.

We are confident that all our brothers in the sisterly Arab countries will adhere to the Arab peace initiative as a basis for safeguarding our rights and to open the way towards real peaceful relations once occupation is ended and the independent state of Palestine is established.

With my profound thanks and appreciation for your kind attention, I thank you, and God's blessing be upon you all.

References (4)

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Reader Comments (4)

"time is running out"

If the original UN proposal for a two-state solution had been accepted by the Arabs in 1948, things might have gone more smoothly.

"Israel's colonial occupation is crystal clear to the world."

It isn't clear to me. How can you "colonise" your own country? That would be like accusing the English of colonising England. One might correctly talk of the Jews colonising New York.

September 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDon Cox

Dan, if that's how you feel about "your country" why don't you extend citizenship and equal rights to all non Jews in historic Palestine (aka Palestinians). Short of being able to do that, Israel has no choice but to make peace the members of the Hebrew / Semetic race that decided to change their religion with the times instead of remain Jews.

September 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJ

When Saudi Arabia agrees to let Jews and Christians Immigrate to their country and become full Saudi citizens , Then and only Then one may speak about allowing Palestinians become Israeli citizens.

September 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMasoud Naz

Israel faces a conundrum. A very significant part of the populace desires to keep the land it conquered in 1967, but they don't want the people who came with the land. As I see it, Israel has 3 choices:

1) Two countries for two peoples, ie. a peace deal to be hashed out as per the current formula.
2) One country for two peoples where everyone would get a vote. This would destroy the Jewish character of Israel in a short period of time since the Arabs are nearly half the population as it is, and are out-breeding the Jewish segment of the population.
3) One country for one people in which Israel would take a page out of the Third Reich's book and make Palestine Arab-free.

The current apartheid system can't go on forever.

September 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

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