Arafat at the UN General Assembly

Yasser Arafat's speech to the UN General Assembly, 13 December 1988. Delivered in Arabic.

Mr President and members: It never occurred to me that my second meeting since 1974 with this esteemed assembly would take place in the hospitable city of Geneva. I believed that with the new position and political stands which our Palestinian people adopted during the PNC meeting in Algiers, all of which were announced amid great international appreciation and welcome, it would have been fitting for me to go to UN headquarters in New York to acquaint you with our resolutions and views regarding the cause of peace in our homeland as formulated by our PNC, which is the highest legislative authority in the Palestinian political body.

Therefore, my meeting with you in Geneva today after an unjust US decision which prevented me from going to you there is a cause of my pride and joy. My pride stems from the fact that I am with you and among you because you are the main platform for all issues of right and justice in the world. My joy derives from the fact that I am present in Geneva where justice and neutrality are words on all tongues and a constitution in a world in which the arrogance of the strong makes them lose their neutrality and sense of justice.

Consequently, the resolution to hold this meeting issued by your esteemed assembly, with the concurrence of 154 states, was not a victory over the US decision but a victory for international unanimity in upholding right and the cause of peace in an unparalleled referendum. It is also evidence that our people’s just cause has taken root in the fabric of the human conscience.

Our Palestinian people will not forget this noble stand by your esteemed assembly and these friendly states in support of right and justice to safeguard the values and principles for which the UN was established. This stand will be translated into a feeling of confidence and reassurance by all the peoples who suffer injustice, coercion and occupation, and who, like our Palestinian people, are struggling for freedom, dignity and life.

On this occasion, I express the deepest thanks to all the countries, forces, international organisations and world personalities that have supported our people and backed their national rights, particularly our friends in the Soviet Union, the PRC, the socialist countries, the nonaligned countries, the Islamic countries, the African countries, the Asian countries, the Latin American countries and all the other friendly countries.

I also thank the countries of Western Europe and Japan for their recent stands towards our people. I call on them to take further steps for the positive development of these decisions in order to open up vistas for peace and a just solution in our region, the Middle East region. I also underline our solidarity with and backing for the liberation movements in Namibia and South Africa in their struggle, and also our support for the African front line states against the aggressions of the racist South African regime. I seize this opportunity too to express my thanks and gratitude to the friendly countries which have supported us and backed our PNC resolutions, and which also recognised the state of Palestine.

I also thank His Excellency the UN Secretary-General, Javier Perez de Cuellar, and his assistants for their constant efforts to achieve the international detente sought by humanity and solutions to world problems, particularly those concerning the Palestinian issue. I also express my thanks and appreciation to the chairman and the members of the committee for the Palestinian people’s exercise of their inalienable rights for their efforts on behalf of our people’s cause. I also greet and thank the nine-member committee of the non-aligned countries on the Palestinian issue for all its constructive work for our people’s cause. To you, Mr President, I express the warmest greetings on the occasion of your election as President of this assembly. I am fully confident of your wisdom and knowledge. I also greet your predecessor for his noble chairmanship of the former session. Lastly, I express my greetings and deep thanks to the Swiss government and people for the great help, facilities and efforts they have extended for this session.

Mr President, members: On 13th November 1974 – 14 years ago – I received with gratitude an invitation from you to present the cause of our Palestinian people before this esteemed assembly. I now return to you here after all these years, which were fraught with grave events, to see that new peoples have taken their places among you, thus crowning their victories in the battles for freedom and independence. To the representatives of these peoples I extend the warm congratulations of our people, and to everybody I announce that I return to you with a louder voice, stronger determination and greater confidence to emphasise that our struggle must bear fruit and that the state of Palestine, which we proclaimed in our National Council, must take its place among you, so that it can take part with you in consolidating the Charter of this organisation and the Human Rights Convention, in putting an end to the tragedies to which humanity is being subjected, and in laying down the bases of right, justice, peace and freedom for all, for all, for all.

Fourteen years ago, when you said to us in the General Assembly hall ‘yes’ to Palestine and the Palestinian people, ‘yes’ to the PLO and ‘yes’ to the firm national rights of the Palestinian people, some people thought that your decisions would have hardly any effect. They failed to realise that these decisions were among the most important springs that watered the olive branch that I carried on that day. This branch, after we watered it with blood, sweat, and tears became a tree with its roots in the ground and its branches in the sky, promising the yields of victory over repression, injustice and occupation. You have given us hope for the victory of freedom and justice, and we have given you a generation from the sons of our people that have devoted their lives to achieving this dream. This is the generation of the blessed uprising, which today is carrying the stones of the homeland to defend the homeland’s honour, so that it may be worthy of belonging to a people that yearn for freedom and independence.

Greetings to all of you from the sons of our hero people – men and women – and from the masses of our blessed uprising, which enters its second year with a huge momentum, meticulous tactics and a democratic civilised method of confronting the occupation, oppression, injustice and the bestial crimes which the Israeli occupiers are committing against them daily.

Greetings to you from our young men and women in occupation prisons and mass detention camps. Greetings to you from the stone-throwing children, who are challenging the occupation and its aircraft, tanks and weaponry, recalling the new image of the defenceless Palestinian David opposing the heavily-armed Israeli Goliath.

At the conclusion of my speech during our first meeting I said that as Chairman of the PLO and leader of the Palestinian revolution, we emphasise our desire not to see a drop of Jewish or Arab blood spilled. Nor do we want to continue the fighting for one minute more. At that time I appealed to you to end all this suffering and pain and to hasten to draw up the basis for a just peace based on the guaranteeing of our people’s rights, aspirations and hopes and the rights of all peoples.

At that time I appealed to you to support the struggle of our people to exercise their right to self-determination to enable our people to return from the compulsory exile into which they had been pushed at bayonet point, and to help us end this injustice which generations of our people have been suffering for several decades in order that they can live free and sovereign in their homeland and country while enjoying all their national and human rights.

The last thing I said from this platform was, that war erupts from Palestine and that peace starts in Palestine. Our dream then was to set up the democratic stage of Palestine, in which Muslims, Christians and Jews would live on an equal footing, in terms of rights and duties, in a single, unified society, like other peoples on this Earth and in our contemporary world. We were greatly astonished when we saw Israeli officials interpreting this Palestinian dream – which is inspired by the heavenly messages that have illuminated the skies of Palestine and by the civilised and humane values that call for coexistence in a free and democratic society – as a scheme that aims to destroy and annihilate their entity. It was our duty, Mr President, to learn a lesson from this difficult situation and to note the distance between this situation and the dream. We in the PLO began searching for realistic alternative formulas which would be applicable in order to find a solution to the problem based on the possible and not on absolute justice, which would guarantee our people’s rights to freedom, sovereignty and independence; guarantee peace, security and stability to all; and avoid the wars and battles in Palestine and the Middle East which have, regrettably, been going on for 40 years.

Mr President: Did we not adopt the UN Charter and its resolutions, the declaration of Human Rights and international legitimacy as a basis for solving the Arab-Israeli conflict? Did we not welcome the 1974 Vance-Gromyko declaration as an initiative which could serve as a basis for a plan to solve this conflict? Did we not support Brezhnev’s peace plan for the Middle East? Did we not welcome and support the declaration issued by the EC countries in Venice concerning the establishment of a just peace in the region? Did we not welcome and support the initiative of Presidents Gorbachev and Mitterrand concerning the preparatory committee for an international conference? Did we not welcome scores of political statements and initiatives put forward by African, Muslim, non-aligned, socialist, European and other nations with the aim of finding a peaceful settlement, in accordance with the principles of international law, and with the goal of establishing peace and resolving the conflict? What was Israel’s reaction to all that? Please note that all these peace initiatives, plans and statements to which I have referred were even-handed.

None of these initiatives ignored the demands and interests of any of the parties involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Israel reacted to all that by building more settlements, escalating its expansionist policies and exacerbating the conflict. Israel engaged in a policy of destruction and bloodshed, and widened the front of hostility to include fraternal Lebanon. The occupation armies of Israel swept over Lebanon in 1982. The invasion of Lebanon was accompanied by the slaughter and massacre of the Lebanese and Palestinian people, including the Sabra and Shatila massacres. Israel is still at this moment occupying a part of the Lebanese south. Lebanon is coming under daily Israeli land, air and sea attacks and raids against its towns and villages, a fate shared by our camps in the south of that country.

It is painful and regrettable that the US government alone should continue to back and support these Israeli expansionist and aggressive plans; support Israel’s continuing occupation of Palestinian and Arab territory; and support its crimes and iron-fist policy against our children and women. It is sad and painful, too, that the US government should continue to refuse to recognise the right of six million Palestinians to self-determination. This is a sacred right to the American people themselves and to all the peoples of the Earth.

I remind them of the stand of President Wilson, the architect of the two universal principles of international relations: namely, the inadmissibility of occupying the territories of others by force, and the right of peoples to self-determination. When the Palestinian people were consulted in 1919 by the King-Crane commission, they chose the USA as the mandate country. But circumstances prevented this and Britain took its place. I ask the American people; I ask the American people: Is it right, is it right that what President Wilson decreed should not be applied to the Palestinian people? Subsequent US administrations know that the only birth certificate for the establishment of the state of Israel is international Resolution 181, which was issued by the UN General Assembly on 29th November 1947. At that time, the United states and the Soviet Union approved this resolution. It stipulates the establishment of two states in Palestine – a Palestinian Arab state and a Jewish state.

How can the US government explain its stand, which acknowledges and recognizes this resolution as it pertains to Israel, while simultaneously rejecting the other half of this resolution as it pertains to the Palestinian state? How can the US government explain its non-commitment to implementing a resolution which it repeatedly sponsored in your esteemed assembly: Resolution 194, which provides for the Palestinians’ right to return to their homeland and property from which they were expelled, or for compensation for those who do not wish to return.

The US government is aware that it is neither its right nor the right of others to divide international legitimacy and break up the provisions of international laws. Mr President and members of the assembly: The continuing struggle of our people for their rights dates back scores of years, during which our people have offered hundreds of thousands of martyrs and wounded and suffered all kinds of tragic tortures. But these people have not relented and their determination has not faltered. Rather, it has consolidated their determination to cling to their Palestinian homeland and their national identity.

Israel’s leaders, who were overtaken by deceptive intoxication, believed that, after our departure from Beirut, the sea would swallow up the PLO. They did not expect that the departure into oblivion would be transformed into a road leading back to the homeland, the real arena of the struggle, and to occupied Palestine. The valiant popular uprising inside our occupied land broke out and will continue until our goals of freedom and national independence are realised.

I have the honour, Mr President, of being one of the sons of these people, who record with the blood of their children, women and men, the most splendid epics of national resistance and who create daily miracles of which legends are made, so that their uprising can continue and so that this uprising can develop and grow stronger until they impose their will and until they prove that right can defeat might.

I extend greetings of admiration to the masses of our people who are now carrying out this unique revolutionary and democratic experiment. Their faith has not been shaken by all of Israel’s war machine, has not been terrorised by all kinds of bullets and has not been affected by people being buried alive or having their bones broken, or by causing pregnant women to abort or by the seizure of water sources. The resolve of the masses has not been weakened by detention, imprisonment, deportation and expulsion outside the homeland. The collective punishment and demolition of houses, the closure of universities, schools, trade unions, societies and establishments, the suspension of newspapers and the besieging of camps, villages and towns have only established this faith more firmly. The revolution has spread to every house and taken root in every inch of the homeland’s soil. A people with such conduct and history cannot be defeated.

All the forces of repression and terrorism cannot dissuade the people from their firm belief in their right to their homeland and in the values of justice, peace, love and tolerant coexistence. The rebel’s rifle has protected us and precluded our liquidation and the destruction of our national identity in the fields of hot confrontation. We are fully confident of our ability to protect the green olive branch in the fields of political confrontation. The fact that the world is rallying around our just cause to achieve a just peace brilliantly indicates that the world realises in no uncertain terms who is the executioner and who is the victim, who is the aggressor and who is the victim of aggression, and who is the struggler for freedom and peace and who is the terrorist. The daily practices of the occupation army’s forces and the fanatical armed settler gangs against our people, children and women expose the ugly face and aggressive nature of the Israeli occupation.

This growing world awareness has affected Jewish communities themselves inside and outside Israel. It has opened these communities’ eyes to the reality of the problem and the essence of the conflict, particularly to Israeli inhuman daily practices which destroy the very spirit of the tolerant Jewish religion itself. It has become difficult, almost impossible, for a Jew to declare his rejection of racial oppression and his adherence to freedom and human rights while remaining silent over Israel’s crimes and violations of the rights of the Palestinian man, the Palestinian people and the Palestinian homeland, particularly over the abominable daily practices of the occupiers and gangs of armed settlers.

Mr President: We differentiate between the Jewish citizen, whose awareness and (word indistinct) of his conscience have been subject to the Israeli ruling circles’ continual efforts to obliterate and falsify, and the practices of Israel’s leaders. Furthermore, we realise that both inside and outside Israel there are honourable and courageous Jews who do not agree with the government of Israel over the policy of repression, massacres, expansion, settlement and deportation, and who admit the equal rights of our people to life, freedom and independence. In the name of the Palestinian people, I thank them, thank them, thank them for this courageous and frank position.

Our people do not want any right to which they are not entitled and which is not compatible with international legality and laws. They are not seeking any freedom that encroaches upon the freedom of others or any destiny that negates the destiny of another people. Our people refuse to be more privileged than others, or for others to be more privileged than they are. Our people want equality with all other peoples, with the same rights and obligations. Today I address this appeal to all the people of the world, particularly those who suffered from the Nazi occupation and who believed it to be their duty to turn the page of repression and injustice by one people against another and to extend help to all the victims of terrorism, fascism and Nazism, so that they can clearly see the responsibilities which history dictates to them for our suffering people, who want a place under the sun for their children in their homeland in which they can live like the rest of the children of the world. They want a place under the sun for their children in their homeland in which they can live like the rest of the children of the world, free in their liberated land.

Mr President, members: It is a cause for optimism that our march of struggle has culminated in the ongoing uprising at a time when the international climate is one of earnest detente and prosperity. We have been following with great satisfaction the successes of the UN and the UN Secretary-General in bringing about solutions to many problems and in many areas of tension in the world in this new climate of international detente. The improvement in the international climate cannot be consolidated without attention being paid to regional problems and areas of tension. We need to forge a human conscience that is more sensitive and responsible in assessing the efforts of man and the policies of nations and more capable of carrying us into the next century. We have new challenges and responsibilities to face (to take us) away from, away from wars and destruction, and for more, for more freedom, prosperity, peace and progress for all mankind.

Mr President: It is indisputable that the Palestinian issue is the most complicated problem of our time. It is the earliest problem on UN records, the most intricate issue and the most menacing to international peace and security. Therefore, the Palestinian issue, more than any other international problem, should be a cause for concern to the two superpowers and other nations of the world. Efforts should be made to find a solution to this issue. A just solution of the Palestinian problem would be the best guarantee for peace in the Middle East.

The PLO leadership, being responsible for the Palestinian people and its future, faithful to the struggle of the Palestinian people, loyal to the memory of the martyrs, responsive to the climate of detente, aware of the need to engage in peaceful political efforts and desirous of a political solution ending the course of war and fighting and opening the door to a peaceful existence governed by the norms of international law, called for an extraordinary session of the PNC in Algiers from 12th to 15th November of this year. The goal was to define and clarify our position as a major party to the Arab-Israeli conflict, a party without the participation and endorsement of which a solution to this conflict cannot be achieved.

I am very proud to tell you that our National Council, completely democratically and in complete freedom, once again proved its ability to shoulder its supreme national responsibilities, and made serious, constructive and responsible decisions that have paved the way for deepening and showing our desire and our contribution towards finding a peaceful settlement that will guarantee the national and political rights of our people and that will ensure security and peace for everybody.

Mr President: The first and decisive resolution adopted by our National Council was the declaration of the establishment of the Palestinian state with Holy Jerusalem as its capital, on the basis of the natural, historic and legal right of the Palestinian Arab people to their homeland and the sacrifices of successive generations in defence of their homeland’s freedom and independence. It also stems from the resolutions of Arab summits and from the strength of international legitimacy, which is embodied by the UN resolutions since 1947. This is the Palestinian Arab people’s exercise of their right to self-determination, political independence and sovereignty over their lands in accordance with your successive resolutions.

I would like to reiterate before the international community that this historic resolution – now that it has become an official UN document – is irreversible and that we will not cease working until the occupation ends and our people exercise their sovereignty in their own state, the state of Palestine, for all Palestinians wherever they are. In this state they can develop their national and cultural identity, enjoy full equality of rights and have their religious and political beliefs and their human dignity upheld in a democratic parliamentary system, established on the basis of freedom of opinion, the formation of parties, due regard by the majority for the rights of the minority, respect by the minority for the decisions of the majority, social justice and equality, and no discrimination on the basis of race, religion and colour, or between men and women under a constitution that imposes the rule of law, the rule of law, and an independent judiciary and on the basis of full loyalty to Palestine’s spiritual and cultural heritage of tolerance and generous coexistence among religions throughout the centuries. The state of Palestine is an Arab state and its people constitute a part of the Arab nation in terms of heritage, culture and ambitions for social development, unity and liberation. This state abides by the Arab League Charter, the UN principles, the Universal declaration of Human Rights, and the principles of non-alignment.

It is a peace-loving state committed to the principles of peaceful coexistence and to working alongside all countries and peoples to establish a just, lasting peace based on justice and the respect of rights. It is a state which believes in the settlement of international and regional problems through peaceful means in accordance with the UN Charter and resolutions. It rejects threats of violence, force or terrorism against its territorial integrity and political independence, and the territorial integrity of any other state, as well as any encroachment on its natural right to defend its territories and independence. It is a state which believes that the future will only bring security to those who have acted justly, or even to those who have returned to justice.

This, Mr Chairman, is the state of Palestine, which we proclaimed and which we will consolidate so that it will assume its position among the world’s countries and participate and excel in building a free world in which justice will prevail and peace will be enjoyed. Our state will have its own provisional government at the first opportunity, God willing.

The PNC has entrusted the PLO Executive Committee with the obligation of assuming the tasks of this provisional government until it is formed. In order to implement this decision, the PNC adopted several important decisions which emphasise our determination to forge ahead seriously in the process of reaching a just, peaceful settlement and to exert the utmost efforts to render it a success.

Our National Council stressed the need to convene an international conference on the Middle East problem, with the issue of Palestine as its core, under UN auspices and with the participation of the permanent member states of the Security Council and all parties to the conflict in the region including the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, on an equal footing since the international conference will convene in accordance with Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and on the basis of guaranteeing the legitimate national and political rights of the Palestinian people, the foremost being their right to self-determination.

Our National Council also emphasised that Israel must withdraw from all Palestinian and Arab territories which it has occupied since 1967, including Arab Jerusalem – including Arab Jerusalem; that the Palestinian state must be set up; that all the annexation decisions must be cancelled; and that the settlements which Israel has established in Palestinian and Arab territories since 1967 must be removed. Arab summits, particularly the Fez and Algiers summits, endorsed this.

Our National Council asserted that efforts must be made to place the occupied Palestinian territories, including Arab Jerusalem, under UN supervision for a limited period in order to defend our people and create the appropriate climate to ensure the success of an international conference, achieve a comprehensive political settlement and establish peace and security for all the peoples and states in the Middle East with their mutual consent, so that the state of Palestine can exercise real power in these territories. This also has been emphasised by resolutions adopted at Arab summits.

Our Council also emphasised the need to settle the issue of the Palestinian refugees in accordance with the UN resolutions. It also emphasised that freedom of worship and to perform religious rites in the holy places in Palestine will be guaranteed to the followers of all religions. The National Council reaffirmed its previous decisions regarding the distinguished and special relationship between the fraternal Jordanian and Palestinian peoples. It affirmed that the future relationship between the state of Palestine and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan will be established on a confederal basis and on the basis of a voluntary and free choice of the two fraternal peoples in order to strengthen the historical bonds and vital interests between them.

The Council reasserted the need for the Security Council to lay down and guarantee the security and peace arrangements among all the states concerned with the conflict in the region. I would like to point out here, Mr President, that these decisions reflect – as it is clear from their content and phraseology – our firm conviction with regard to peace and freedom and with regard to our deep understanding and appreciation of the climate of the international rapprochement and detente and of the eagerness of the world community to achieve balanced solutions which meet the basic interests and demands of the parties to the conflict.

These decisions also reflect the seriousness of the Palestinian stand towards the issue of peace, its eagerness for it, and the need to guarantee and ensure it through the Security Council and under the supervision of the UN. These decisions convey the clear-cut and decisive answer to all the excuses, preconditions and pretexts which some countries have used with respect to the positions and policy of the PLO.

At a time when our people have been voting for peace through their uprising and their representatives in the PNC, at a time when our PNC has been voting for peace, stressing its response to the prevailing trend which is being strengthened by the era of a new detente in international relations to resolve world conflicts by peaceful means, the Israeli government is nurturing aggressive and expansionist tendencies and religious fanaticism in order to stress its adherence to the option of aggression and of ignoring our peoples’ right. The Palestinian side, for its part, has formulated clear-cut and responsible political stands that are in line with the will of the international community, in a bid to help convene an international peace conference and to ensure its success. The courageous international support, as demonstrated by the recognition of the state of Palestine, which we appreciate, constitutes irrefutable evidence of the soundness of our course, the credibility of our decisions and their compatibility with the international will for peace.

Despite our great appreciation for the free US voices which have hastened to explain and support our positions and decisions, the US administration still has no unified criterion to apply to the parties to the conflict, requiring us alone to adopt positions that cannot be resolved (Arabic: la yumkin hasmaha) before negotiations and dialogue start within the framework of an international conference. I would like to state that acknowledging the equality and rights of the two parties to the conflict on a mutual basis is the sole prelude to answering the clarifications requested by any quarter.

If policies and deeds are any indication of intentions, the Palestinian side has a better reason to worry and demand clarifications and assurances about its destiny and future with regard to the state of Israel, which is armed with the most modern weapons, including nuclear weapons.

Mr President, members: Our PNC reiterated its adherence to UN resolutions endorsing the right of nations to resist foreign occupation, imperialism and racial discrimination, as well as the right of nations to struggle for freedom. The PNC reiterated its rejections of terrorism; it reiterated its rejection of terrorism of all kinds, of terrorism of all kinds, including state terrorism, including state terrorism. In this respect, the PNC underlined its commitment to its own previous resolutions, to the resolutions of the Arab summit in Algiers in 1988, to UN Resolutions 159/42 of 1987 and 40/61 of 1985, and to the Cairo declaration issued on 7th November 1985 in this regard.

Our position, Mr President, is clear and unambiguous. However, in my capacity as Chairman of the PLO, I declare from here once more, declare from here once more: I condemn terrorism in all its forms, but at the same time I salute all those in front of me in this hall who have been accused by their executioners and the colonialists of being terrorists during the battles for the liberation of their land from the yoke of colonialism. They are today the faithful leaders of their people and sincerely devoted to the principles and values of justice and freedom.

I reverently salute the martyrs who have fallen at the hand of terrorism and terrorists, chief among them being my life-long comrade, my deputy, Khalil al-Wazir, alias Abu Jihad, and the martyrs of the massacres which were inflicted on our people in many areas, towns, villages and camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and in South Lebanon.

Mr President: members, the situation in our Palestinian homeland can no longer be tolerated. The masses of our people, our heroes, are leading the way and holding high the torches of freedom. They die every day so that the occupiers will leave and so that peace will be established in their free and independent homeland and in the entire region. Therefore, the PNC based its resolutions on a realistic understanding of the conditions of both the Palestinians and the Israelis. The goal of these resolutions is to establish a climate of tolerance between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

The UN has a historic and singular obligation towards our people, their cause and their rights. Over 40 years ago, the UN issued Resolution 181 setting up two states in Palestine, as I have mentioned – one to be an Arab Palestinian state and the other a Jewish state. Today, despite the historic injustice that has been committed against our people, we still see that this resolution continues to provide international legitimacy to the right of the Arab Palestinian people to sovereignty and national independence. Therefore, the acceleration of the peace process in the region requires additional efforts by all the parties concerned and by international powers, particularly the United states and the Soviet Union, both of which have a great responsibility towards the issue of peace in our region. The UN, the permanent members of the UN Security Council and all international groups and organisations have a vital and essential role to play at the current stage.

I hereby present the following Palestinian peace initiative in my capacity as Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee, which assumes the tasks of the provisional government of the state of Palestine: (1) Serious work be undertaken to convene the preparatory committee of an international conference for peace in the Middle East under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General in accordance with the Gorbachev-Mitterrand initiative, which has been supported by many countries and which President Mitterrand was pleased to present to your assembly at the end of last September, prior to convening an international conference, which is supported by all the world’s countries with the exception of the government of Israel.

(2) Proceeding from our faith in the UN’s vital role and the international legitimacy, we believe that the UN should assume temporary supervision of our Palestinian land; UN forces should be deployed to protect our people; and, at the same time, the UN forces should supervise the withdrawal of the Israeli forces from our country.

(3) The PLO will work to reach a comprehensive peaceful settlement between the parties involved in the Arab-Israeli struggle, including the state of Palestine and Israel, as well as the other neighbouring states, within the framework of an international conference for peace in the Middle East in order to realise equality and a balance of interests, particularly the right of our people to freedom and national independence, and the respect of the right to life and the right of peace and security for everyone, namely, all the parties involved in the struggle in the area, in accordance with Resolutions 242 and 338.

In the event that these bases are recognised within the framework of such a conference, we would have made a major stride towards a just solution which would pave the way for an agreement covering all the security and peace arrangements.

Mr President: I hope that it is clear that, just as our Palestinian people are eager to attain their legitimate national right to self-determination and their return, and to secure an end to the occupation of their Palestinian land, of their homeland, our Palestinian people are also eager to safeguard the peace process so as to achieve these goals within the framework of an international conference under UN auspices and in accordance with its Charter and resolutions.

I stress that we are a people who yearn for peace like all the peoples on earth; perhaps more enthusiastically, because of our long suffering over the years, because of the harsh life that confronts our people and children, and because of their deprivation of an enjoyable, normal life without wars, tragedies, agonies, displacements and harsh sufferings in their daily life.

Let voices be raised in support of the olive branch, the policy of peaceful coexistence and the climate of international detente. Let hands unite in defence of a historic opportunity, which may not be repeated, to put an end to a long tragedy which has claimed the sacrifices of thousands of souls and resulted in the destruction of hundreds of towns and villages. When we extend our hand with an olive branch, a branch of peace, we do so because this branch stems from the tree of the homeland and freedom planted in our hearts.

Mr President, members: I have come to you in the name of our people to extend my hand so that we may establish a real, just peace. It is from this premise that I call on the leaders of Israel to come here, to come here, under UN auspices to create this peace. I also tell them that our people want dignity, freedom and peace. They want peace for their state just as they want it for all the countries and parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

I hereby address greetings to all Israeli factions, forces and sections led by the forces of democracy and peace. I tell them: move away from fear and intimidation so that we can make peace, make peace, make peace; move away from the spectre of the wars of this conflict which have been raging for 40 years; and away from the flare-up of coming wars whose only fuel will be their children and our children. Come, let us make peace. Come let us create peace – the peace of the brave – and move away from the arrogance of the strong and the weapons of destruction, and away from occupation, coercion, humiliation, killing and torture. Say: people of the book, come to common terms to establish peace in the land of peace – the land of Palestine. Glory be to God in the heavens, peace on Earth and joy to the people. God, you are peace, peace comes from you and peace returns to you.

Make us live in peace, O Lord; and admit us to paradise, the house of peace.

Finally, I tell our people: the dawn is coming and victory is coming. I see the homeland represented in your sacred stones. I see the flag of our independent Palestinian state flying over the hills of the dear homeland. Thanks and God’s peace and blessing be with you.