Speech by President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt to the inaugural session of the emergency Arab summit in Cairo, 21-22 October, 2000
Your Majesties, Excellencies and Royal Highnesses, His Excellency the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me pleasure to welcome you upon the inaguration of the deliberations of the Arab Summit Conference and thank you for your instant response to my invitation to this summit. This response has reassured your keenness to support and invigorate joint Arab action, in the face of fierce challenges blocking our way, foremost of which are those dangerous challenges facing the Middle East peace process.
At the outset, I would like to recall the grave losses inflicted upon the Arab nation since our latest summit in 1996. These include the departure of four leaders of joint Arab actions who had left visible fingerprints on the progress of Arab action, namely His Majesty King Hussein Ibn Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, His Royal Highness Sheikh Eesa al-Khalifa Emir of Bahrain, His Majesty King al-Hassan II of the Kingdom of Morocco and His Excellency President Hafez al-Assad of the Syrian Arab Republic. May Allah bless their souls.
In the meantime, I would like to welcome the incoming Arab leaders who firmly believe in their just cause and the requirement to coordinate Arab endeayours in this crucial stage of Arab and world history. They are further interested in enhancing our joint action and our unified march as well as redoubling our capability to face challenges. I would like also to welcome the President of the Republic of Somalia, following a long absence from our meetings by this sisterly country for which we wish security and stability.
Your Majesties, Excellencies and Royal Highness,
The convention of this summit represents a significant landmark on the path of pan-national action. It marks a starting point of a new phase of our pan-national history, reflecting the vitality of our nation, its ability to. confront all changing conditions and address all challenges. The past weeks have carried a difficult test to the peace process, since the sisterly Palestinian people rose up against provocative actions designed to terrorize them, encroach upon their rights and assault their own sanctities which are in the meantime the sanctities of all Arab and Muslim nation. This did occur at a time when we were all seeking to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in according to international legitmacy resoulutions and in implementation of the land-for-peace formula.
Instead of pushing peace tracks between parties toward a peacful settlement, we were surprised to see threats that could abort this process and pull back the region into an atmosphere of voilence, despair and anarchy.
It is now time for all parties, particularly Israel, to realize that peace is the normal condition for human life and the only means for the development of peoples and advancement of nations; that oppression can never make security, nor can aggression generate peace.
Permanent and stable peace should be just and even-handed, ensuring balanced rights and obligation of parties involved. This is the only way to provide for peace the element of general popular satisfaction and acceptance to be handed down from one generation to another. Thus peace can gain a firmly established and unshakable status. On the other hand, fragile and soon to be dissipated will be peace, if attained through force, oppression and ursurpation.
We, in this part of the world, have suffered for long years from the impact of and various consequences of the Arab-Israeli conflict. We have, therefore, opted for just and rightful peace as a path towards the future and a means of advancement for countries of the region. However, it should be understand that peace calls for a joint will and cannot be realized unilaterally. Security is an equal right for all parties. No power on each can usurb others’ rights and annex their land, while vaunting, boastfully about peace and claims security exclusively for it as though it has overriding or higher priority rights over Arab rights.
We, the Arabs, have made wide strides towards peace through a march of long years. However, certain circles in Israel seem to have misunderstood and underestimated the Arab stance and fancied that current international conditions might allow others’ right to be swallowed , their land occupied, their beliefs humiliated and their citizens terrorized.
Today, as we meet in this Arab summit, we incarnate the pulse of the Arab street everywhere and express the justifiable and vehement rage that has overtaken all Arab and Islamic peoples without exception over the aggression against their sanctities.
We are here to express the will and sentiments of our peoples as well as the collective conscience and conciousness of the nation that is entitled to decide and determine the course.
No doubt, those Israeli actions and practices push the peace issue into an extremely difficult predicament and a real ordeal. The policies of collective punishment, isolating towns, closing crossing points, terrorizing innocent civilians, killing armless children and giving full rein to extremist settlers armed with lethal weapons supplied by official state bodies are all reckless practices reflecting objectional indulgence into a provocative decision that is categorically rejected. This is belligerent attitude whose grave consequences we caution against and insist on ensuring that it would not be repeated under any circunistances. It is an attitude that threatens the very essence of peace and dissipates the confidence of Arab, Islamic and even other peoples in Israel’s intentions.
Such confidence is an indispensible and necessary prerequisite for reaching peace as well as optimistic and auspicious outlook to the future.
We believe that the choice between an incomplete, non-balanced peace or return to an atmosphere of violence and tension makes an unequitable equation that comes short of paving the road to a better future. Nor does it open up the way to secure co-existence that we all look for.
There is definitely an overarching and overriding choice; namely even-handed, just, comprehensive and viable peace. This is not said out of vacuum, as the experiments of peoples and history of nations confirm that settlements lacking elements of justice, balance and even-handedness did not last long, but were rather shaky and unstable.
Your Majesties, Excellencies, and Highnesses,
We have attempted during the past few weeks to move in two parallel directions .The first aimed at stopping the bloodshed in the Palestinian occupied territories while the other sought to restore the situation existing before the sacrilege of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the breakout of the recent Palestinian Intifada and the complications of the bloody confrontations in AlQuds, the Western Bank and Gaza.
Our efforts were focused on intensive consultations with the Arab brothers and constant contacts with the American Administration, the European Union and the United Nations Secretary-General. Then the Sharm El-Sheikh Summit came as a final attempt to salvage the situation, stop the shedding of dear Palestinian blood and restoring calm in the Palestinian occupied territories.
The deliberations of Sharm El-Sheikh Summit resulted in lifting the siege over the Palestinian towns and villages and the roads connecting them, opening crossings, withdrawing the Israeli forces and their arsenal spreading everywhere, and forming an international fact-finding committee.
All these are the objectives that we have sought and still seek to realize in preparation for returning to the road of honorable peaceful settlement.
As a result of this Summit the stances of the parties have been clearly determined . Thus all parties have had a full vision before our present meeting which is held under these extremely critical and decisive circumstances in the life of our nation and the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
These circumstances impose on us the responsibility of determining our path towards the future in the light of past experiences and present events, aspiring to a safer and more stable future.
Here, allow me at the commencement of the meetings of this summit to re-assert our total commitment to the legitimate rights of the steadfast Palestinian people, to hail their just struggle and to ask God’s mercy for their martyrs who paid their lives in an unequal confrontation to safeguard their sacred places and rights let alone the grave sacrifices and huge losses inflicted on them since the beginning of the last bloody events.
It is time to tell Israel frankly and clearly arid out of our concern over peace and the future of coexistence and stability in the region that what happened led to the shaking of confidence in the utility of the peace process and left negative effects which need to be redressed in such a way whereby Israel should prove its real wish for co-existence with its neighbours on top of which is the Palestinian people.
This co-existence should not be threatened by irresponsible practices or continual violations or underestimations of the rights of others or thinking of terrorizing a whole people, making them feel that they are still living under the yoke of occupation and tyranny.
Your Majesties, Excellences, and Highnesses,
Your response to our call to convene this summit is the result of your collective awareness of the real dangers enveloping the region. It is also a natural response to the wishes of the wide masses throughout the greater Arab World. Therefore, we bear a historic burden to get the region out of this crisis and to attempt again to salvage the peace process. I rather think that our insistence and keenness on realizing peace is more important than ever.
We know that the expectations and aspirations to this summit have a high ceiling. However, our mission as leaders of this nation is ultimately to go ahead on the road of realizing its interests, guarantee its stability and protect it from indulging in sensational attitudes. We are all angry and full of resentment due to the accumulated events. But at the same time, we understand that the issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict is protracted and complicated. The more we approach the peaceful settlement, the more difficult and complex negotiations become.
Therefore, as stakeholders , we have to go on the long way towards our legitimate rights without being deviated off the course by any rampant attempts or cursory provocations because it is right that will triumph in the end.
We are a nation with such a long history, huge heritage and great potential that will enable her to rectify her course and go ahead towards her just goals and legitimate rights. Far off will not be the day when the independent Palestinian state will rise on her national soil and occupied land, with Al-Quds as her capital. Nor will it be far off when peace will be realized on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks with the return of Israel to its borderlines before the 4th of June 1967. Here, I say to Israel clearly that it should understand that we cannot accept any settlement unless it is just and fair.
We cannot also accept any peace unless it is comprehensive. We as well want Israel to understand that in choosing the peace option, the Arab nation did so on the basis of Israeli adherence to the same objective and according to the legal rules adopted by the contemporary international community rather than the code of the jungle and the concepts of using unjustified force. Therefore, our future handling of the Arab-Israeli conflict will take into account Israel’s stances and governments’ policies towards the Palestinians and their rights, and towards the Arabs and the future of co-existence with them. Those who want peace should not have committed the practices witnessed over the past few weeks. Those who want peace should also respect the rights of others and their sacred places.
We will not allow these sacred places to be exposed to sacrilege and’ violation because we live in an era where human rights are the world’s prime issue and ultimate end. We are not also a subjugated nation whose only choice is peace but rather we chose peace after proving our power and ability and accepted the formula chosen by the international community as a legal basis for realizing peace.
You remember that I was keen on numerous occasions on referring to the importance of holding Arab Summits periodically and regularly regardless of the situation in the Arab World and the Middle East region.
The summit is the highest level of responsibility, the active player that fulfills the aspirations of the Arab masses as well as the formula approved by the Arab League Council in its last round with its final draft drawn up by the preparatory meeting of the Arab Foreign Ministers for this summit. No doubt that the periodic and regular meetings of the Arab Summit will contribute to boosting joint Arab action in all fields and allow room for periodic and regular consultation among us on issues of our nation, challenges she faces and the ambitions she aspires to.
We look forward to a future where the peoples of the region live in stability and welfare but we will not by all means be driven to do so at the expense of the rights of our peoples or the dignity of our nation or the future of our coming generations.
Peace by its very nature, should be exchanged equally among the parties. Co-existence requires continual action on both sides. It is either co-existence and stability maintained by mutual respect or continuing tension and worry.
It is either security and prosperity for all peoples or a harsh life dominated by deprivation and lacking reassurance with the future.
Our peoples are yearning to a new phase where we can make up for what they have lost in times of war, violence and instability.
Mistaken is that who thinks that he can change the laws of history and essence of divine messages or imagines , under the spell of his self- infatuation with a power that is bound to pass away,that he can change the course of events.
Our coming generations look forward to a day where they can live in security, stability and prosperity away from violence, threat and terror against peoples.
We are all determined to tread along their way whatever the difficulties and challenges are and whosoever puts his trust in Allah, He will suffice him. Allah brings His command to pass. Allah has set a measure for all things.
Truthful are the words of Almighty Allah
May Allah’s Peace and Mercy be upon you
Egyptian translation supplied to journalists at the conference