Speech by Yasser Arafat

Speech by Yasser Arafat at the Arab summit in Beirut, 27-28 March, 2002.

Israel sought to impose conditions for Mr Arafat's travel to Beirut. When it emerged that even if Israel allowed him to go it would not necessarily allow him to return to Palestine, he decided not attend the summit and delivered his speech by a video link.

Full text of the speech, as provided in English by thePalestinian presidential website:

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

"We will, without doubt, help Our apostles and those who believe, (both) in this world's life, and on the Day when the Witnesses will stand forth." -- Sadaqqa Allahu Al-Athim.

Your Majesties, Excellencies, Royal Highnesses assembled now in Lebanon: Our Arab summit convenes here, in Lebanon, on the land of this country that embraces glory, and here in Beirut, its capital, forever towering in magnanimity and pride. It is the Beirut that has humiliated the invaders and taught all aggressors unforgettable lessons; here among its genuine Arab-Lebanese people, the makers of the most magnificent steadfastness and forms of unity with our people and our nation, and the achievers of the most glorious deeds of victory over the invading occupiers.

Our Arab nation gathers here in Lebanon. I would have liked to be among them, but you are aware of the circumstances that prevented this from happening. Yes, it is the Lebanon for whom we rejoice for regaining its well-being, stability, development and prosperity.

This is the third Arab summit that we are convening in the course of a year and a half in the life of our Palestinian people's blessed third Intifada. It is the genuine chapter in the book of our Pan-Arab, national and liberation struggle. It is an addition to our Arab summits that symbolizes our genuine Arab solidarity. It is the most legitimate and most effective place to review the issues of our glorious Arab nation. It is the place where consensus is made on the best possible means to maintain our Arab unity, elevate its status among nations, guarantee the pride of its peoples, their freedom, progress and the defense of our Christian and Islamic holy places.

If the cause of Palestine has been one of the fundamental and important causes of this genuine Arab national framework, so it has also been for our twin, the Islamic Conference as well as for the Non-Aligned Movement and the other friendly states, at the forefront of which are Europe, Russia, China, Japan and the U.N. We take pride in these blessed Pan- Arab efforts made by our Arab nation for us, as well as in the support, in all its meanings and forms, given to us by all brothers and friends, the world over.

Had it not been for this Arab, Islamic and international friendly and truly honest crucible, this cause would not have been able to survive and to progress despite all the hindrances, the difficulties and the challenges of all the conspiracies that our Palestinian people and Arab nation face -- conspiracies whose chapters are still unfolding, not only in Palestine but also in many other regions of our Arab homeland.

Masses of our Arab nation, friends the world over and in Palestine, I am addressing you from the land of Palestine, the land of peace, the holy land -- the Terra Sancta -- the first of the two Qiblas and the third of the holy mosques, the land of the nocturnal journey of Prophet Muhammad (may God's peace be upon him) and the place of the nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Peace be upon him), I have come to you as well from the midst of its people, faithful to their Arab nation and who have been generous in an unlimited way to their cause, to their rights and to their holy places.

I am certain that you are following by the hour the minutes of this glorious struggle and this popular steadfastness in this unswerving Jehad in the face of this Israeli military escalation and strangulating siege that our children, women and men, our mighty people of the land of steadfastness are facing (and they are steadfast until the day of judgment).

I address you, while our people are still burying their martyrs and healing the wounds of their children, their youth, their elderly and their women; while facing the winter of this year under the ruins of their homes which were destroyed and in the midst of the debris of all that we have built during the last few years, in terms of infrastructures that were also repeatedly destroyed by the treacherous occupying forces.

As for our farmers who have preserved the covenant of the land for thousands of years, they are witnessing the uprooting of more than 50% of the olive trees, planted by our fathers and our forefathers, which the Israeli military machine is turning into colonial settlements and camps for the massing of tanks and armored vehicles. As for our refugee camps, villages, towns and cities, they are also suffering under a tight closure and a total siege in unprecedented, humiliating, racist cantons.

In addition to all that, our people, women, men and children are enduring humiliation at these military checkpoints of the Israeli occupation forces.

Majesties, Excellencies and Highnesses, meeting now in Beirut, you are following all this, and I hope that you are actually following this war that has been declared against us, a war that did not leave any religious, educational, medical, cultural or security institution or places without inflicting upon them heavy human losses, that have, so far, exceeded 47,000 martyrs and injured as well as causing heavy losses to our official and people's institutions and even to our steadfast refugee camps, towns, cities and villages.

It is a war that has destroyed the infrastructures of our people, their factories, farms and houses. Even hospitals, schools as well as churches and mosques were not spared. The international assessment of the losses inflicted upon our people, has so far exceeded 7.5 billion U.S. dollars.

In this war even internationally prohibited weapons were used by the government of Israel and its occupation army, including depleted uranium, gazes and even poisonous waste.

Despite all this, our people, in all their affiliations and forces, are holding to their firm positions, faith and steadfastness in the defense of our Christian and Islamic holy places as well as in the defense of our land and existence and in the defense of the Palestinian and Arab honor. We are full of confidence in this faith and firmness of our people and Arab nation. We are all confident in the inevitability of victory, as well as in the inevitability of achieving our national and Pan-Arab goals, for which we, as an Arab nation, have suffered massive numbers of martyrs, injured, prisoners and detainees, in the course our nation's defense and in the defense of our holy places and rights, including the right of return, the right to self-determination and the establishment of the independent state of Palestine, with holy Jerusalem as its capital.

This is our goal. It is as well the goal of our Arab nation. It is a goal that has received wide ranging international support, backing, approval and consensus.

Beloved brothers, we are continuing on the road of this legitimate goal without abandoning the choice of permanent, just and comprehensive peace, and the political initiatives which the world respects and because of which it has given us its support, backing and protection starting from the Madrid Conference and land for peace, and on the basis of the resolutions of international legality 242, 338, 425, 194 on the refugees, and the recent U.N. Security Council Resolution 1397 on the establishment of permanent and comprehensive peace in the whole area, and all of which in turn are in harmony and in keeping with the resolutions of the Arab summits.

We have co-operated with all the efforts that aim at rescuing the march of peace, since the meetings of Cairo, Sharm El Sheikh, Camp David, Paris, Athens, Taba and Portugal and in other places. We have in all responsibility accepted the Mitchell Recommendations and the Tenet Understandings. We have declared to the whole world that we support any Arab or international effort that aims at closing the file of aggression, occupation, colonial settlement and bloodshed, for the sake of opening the file of negotiations, peace and the achievement of the yearned for solution. In this regard, we spared no effort in cooperating with General (Anthony) Zinni, the Special Envoy of President Bush, whom I thank for this initiative, as well as with the envoys of the European Union, the Russian Federation, the U.N., the Non-Aligned countries and other friendly states.

In the framework of this cooperation, we have repeatedly declared a unilateral ceasefire. Despite all difficulties and provocations, we have provided all mediators with more than three weeks of total calm, while in fact, what was required was not more than one week.

In spite of our seriousness, as testified to by our brothers and by the quadripartite U.S.- Russian-European and U.N. Commission, yet the insistence of the government of Israel on adopting the illusion of its capability to humiliate and oppress our Palestinian people has always undermined the efforts of calming, through its military escalation, the strangulating siege and by putting new obstacles before moving towards negotiations on any political track, in order to continue the occupation, the colonial settlement and hindering the peace process in the whole area.

Beloved brothers, I would like to tell you in frank and precise terms that we want our national, firm and inalienable rights, the rights that are supported by international legality, the rights of our refugees, our right to self-determination and to the establishment of our independent state, on the whole territory which was occupied in 1967, with holy Jerusalem as its capital.

We do not want to see this occupation and the illegal settlements. We want the peace of the brave for our children and for their children, for a bright future where they can live and learn side by side, in peace, security and tranquility.

This is what we want. This is what has been approved by our Arab nation, in its Arab and Islamic summits. This is what we have promised our people and pledged to achieve, God willing.

This is what the world expects from the peace of the brave that I signed with my late partner Rabin who paid with his life for this peace.

Here I wish to underline the participation of a Christian religious delegation from Al Quds Assharif (Holy Jerusalem) in this summit convening in Beirut. This delegation has also participated in the previous summits that convened in Amman, Cairo and Qatar, as well as in all Islamic Summits and at the Jerusalem Committee meetings in Morocco.

This is matter of great pride for us.

"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of goodwill." Beloved brothers, We have to study the state of the [Muslim] nation (the Ummah), its preoccupations, pains and hopes. We have to give concentrated attention to the joint Arab mechanisms of action.

Indeed we do want to know how this joint Arab action would be.

While we all understand the dimensions and contents of the accelerating international changes, and while deeply understanding what has been termed as the post-11 September world, in other words after the terrorist acts of aggression against New York and Washington, condemned first by us and then by the rest of the world, we have to put our feet squarely on the map of the new world -- in all its colorings, complications and intricacies. Our Arab discourse and our Arab policies have to match the caliber of our status in this world as well as the volume of our interests and the interests that the world has with us.

As our nation has always been, through the various stages of history, the bearer of a civilization capable of positive interaction with other civilizations, it is today more capable to discourse with the new world.

It has to be an effective partner in forming its orientations and approaches. We all understand that there are great challenges that block this legitimate longing of ours. Yet through the unity of our political line and sound, methodical and persistent joint Arab mechanisms of action, we will by-pass and overcome these challenges.

The world has to realize this sad reality facing our people, the reality that we are indeed the victims of occupation, colonial settlement and terrorism.

We are against the killing of civilians on both sides.

Isn't the Israeli occupation of our land, people and of our Christian and Islamic holy places the apex of terrorism? Isn't the collective punishment, the strangulating siege and the military escalation adopted by the government of Israel as a permanent official policy against our people, the worse kind of terrorism, occupation and contrary to all decisions and resolutions of international legality, especially since it is the only remaining occupation in this century? The whole world continues to condemn the Israeli occupation of the whole Palestinian and Arab territories, be it in the Golan Heights or in South Lebanon.

Now, while the world is looking forward to this Arab summit, I would like, on behalf of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership, to affirm that we welcome the enlightened and courageous initiative put forward by the Saudi crown prince, H.R.H. Abdallah Ben Abdel Azziz Al Saud, for the peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

God willing, this initiative will be translated, during this Arab summit, into an Arab initiative for the peace of the brave, between us and the Israeli people and the Jews world wide.

On this particular day, which coincides with the first day of the Jewish Passover, the day of their liberation, we wish them a happy Passover, and remind them that a new era and new freedom for our Palestinian people will inevitably come true.

I also hope that our Arab summit will solve, in the spirit of Arab fraternity and Arab genuineness, the Iraqi-Kuwaiti situation so that the Kuwaiti-Iraqi harmony will regain its former strength, and so that stability in our area and stability in our situation and in our security as an Arab nation, in each and every country, be regained and our genuine Arab unity be reconsolidated.

The international environment is ready to accept these initiatives for a permanent and just solution to the Arab-Israeli struggle on all tracks and levels taking into consideration, the U.S. vision declared by President Bush on the establishment of the independent state of Palestine, and we express our thanks to him. This was bolstered by the recent U.N. Security Council resolution 1397 proposed as well by the U.S.A, in the name of President Bush, and we again express our thanks to him.

We have also to take into consideration that 161 member states in the U.N. General Assembly voted in favor of the establishment of this Palestinian state. This is in addition to the positions adopted by the European states, Russia, the U.N., the Non-Aligned states, China, Japan, other friendly states as well as the Islamic and African states and the G-8 member states.

All these together form an unprecedented international consensus vis-a-vis our cause and the establishment of our independent Palestinian state.

In conclusion, I would like to tell you, in the name of our steadfast and persevering Palestinian people, in the name of our innocent martyrs, in the name of our injured and handicapped, in the name of the defenders of our refugee camps, our towns, cities and villages, in the name of your vanguards, defending the honor, esteem and pride of our Arab nation, in the name of them all, in the name of Palestine, I would like to tell you all, in their name and in the name of Palestine, that our people, our Arab nation and the world are expecting your decisions and awaiting your moves. They continue to depend on this Ummah (Muslim nation) and on its leaders. It is the Ummah (Muslim nation) of whom the Almighty God said: We are the best of peoples evolved for humankind.

Enjoining what is right, Forbidding what is wrong.

Let us be worthy of those who pin their hopes on us. May God bless you with success.

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

And to enter your Temple As they had entered it before.

Sadaqqa Allahu Al Athim.

May peace, God's Mercy and Blessings be upon you.