"ending the occupation of all Palestinian occupied territories in 1967,
including East Jerusalem"
"to our brave prisoners -- my sisters, brothers, children -- wherever you
are, have confidence in the future and tomorrow, because future Palestine is
coming, because this is the promise of the whole world to you."[Dr. Aaron
Lerner - IMRA: The "moderate" PA position is that anyone who murders an
Israeli during the course of the negotiations should not go to prison.]
Abbas Addresses the Annapolis Conference
CQ Transcripts Wire
Tuesday, November 27, 2007; 12:19 PM
SPEAKER: PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):
In the name of God, the compassionate, (SPEAKING IN ARABIC) with great hope,
but it is accompanied with great worry that this new opportunity might be
But the meanings of your message are well known and they carry your personal
bridge and commitment by your great country and its determination to embrace
the Palestinian and Israeli peace and the Arab-Israeli peace to be converted
in the arena of negotiations to be the first and foremost arena for making
And that this initiative would culminate your term of office is an
outstanding achievement which would add a new shining star in the skies of
the world, the world of the future free of violence, oppression and bigotry.
And also we would like to applaud you, Mr. President, for choosing this
charming city, Annapolis, as a venue for convening this international
In addition to its beauty and distinctive location, it bears the symbol of
freedom; the most sublime value in our life.
"Freedom" is the single word that stands for the future of the Palestinians
and captures the meanings of all their generations. It is their sunshine and
it is the life that inspires their future. It is the last word voiced by the
martyrs and victims, and it is the lyric (ph) of their prisoners.
I must also pay tribute to the role played by Dr. Condoleezza Rice and her
aides. For without here relentless resolve and determination and her vision
vis-a-vis all aspects of conflict in our region, we would not have been
Dr. Rice took important strides with us in order to affirm that the path of
peace is the only choice and it is irreversible. And that the path to
negotiations for peace and to achieve peace is the right path.
It is important for me to indicate here that this distinguished
participation and large participation from sister Arab and Islamic
countries, the quartet, and the group of great industrial countries, and the
permanent members of the Security Council of the United Nations, and many
prominent European and Asian countries, as well as non-aligned countries and
African states and from South America, in a unique conference in the history
of the conflicts would provide impetus and protection, in addition to the
fact that it carries the meanings of encouragement to pursue the path of
Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations and move that forward and the need to
reach the solution of two states, based on ending occupation and the
establishment of the state of Palestine side by side to the state of Israel,
and the resolution of all issues relating to the Palestinian- Israeli
conflict, Arab-Israeli conflict in all their aspects, as an indispensable
qualitative step, so that comprehensive and normal peace relations would be
established in our region.
ABBAS (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I am proud that this Arab and Islamic
contribution and this broad international that this Arab and Islamic
contribution and this broad international participation in the work of this
conference is a testimony to the fact that sister and friendly states are
standing by us, the people of Palestine, as a leadership, and for our
efforts to achieve peace.
It is a support of our approach that calls for a balanced historical
settlement that would ensure peace and security for our independent state
and for Israel, as well as for all countries in the region.
This Arab and Islamic participation in today's meeting is also an
affirmation that the Arab peace initiative was not a step without
well-defined targets, but indeed it was a bold strategic plan that aims
changing the nature of relations in the region and to usher in a new era
But to achieve that does not depend on the Arab and Islamic position by
itself, but requires meeting this position by a reciprocal strategic
willingness that would basically lead to ending the occupation of all
Palestinian occupied territories in 1967, including East Jerusalem, as well
as the Syrian Golan and what remains of occupied from Lebanese territories,
and to resolve all other issues relating to the conflict, especially the
Palestinian refugees question in all its political, humanitarian, individual
and common aspects, consistent with Resolution 194, as emphasized by the
Arab peace initiative and the participation of sister states that host
refugees and carry huge burdens in this regard.
I am not making an overstatement, Mr. President, if I say that our region
stands at a crossroad that separates two historical phases, pre-Annapolis
phase and post-Annapolis phase.
In other words, this extraordinary huge opportunity provided today by the
Arab, Islamic and international position, and the overwhelming support from
the public opinion in both the Palestinian and Israeli societies for the
need to exploit the occasion of this conference that would launch the
negotiating process and not to do away with the potential that it carries, I
say that this opportunity might not be repeated. And if it were to be
repeated, it might not enjoy the same unanimity and impetus.
Mr. President, what we are facing today is not just the challenge of peace,
but we are facing a test of our credibility as a whole: the United States,
members of the quartet, and all members of the international community,
Israel, the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority,
the Arab and Islamic group, as well.
It is a test that would leave its indelible impact on the future of the
region and on the relationship among its peoples and the international
powers that are entrusted in the peace, stability of our region on the other
We came with this perspective to Annapolis today. And, therefore, we do
recognize the volume of this possibility that we are bearing and the gravity
of the burden that we must shoulder.
We do recognize, and I presume that you share me this view, that the absence
of hope and overwhelming despair would feed extremism. Therefore, we have a
common duty to spread genuine hope in order to achieve full transformation
toward complete peace (inaudible) and long term during your term of office,
Mr. President, thanks to your support and understanding.
Tomorrow, we have to start comprehensive and deep negotiations on all issues
of final status, including Jerusalem, refugees, borders, settlements, water
and security and others.
We have to support this negotiating process in concrete and direct steps on
the ground that would prove that we are moving in an irreversible path
toward negotiated, comprehensive and full peace, and to ensure ending all
settlement activities, including natural growth, and reopening closed
Jerusalem institutions, removal of settlement outposts, removal of road
blocks, and freedom of prisoners, and to facilitate our mission in the
authority to enforce law and the rule of law.
Here, I must defend in all sincerity and candor, and without wavering, the
right of our people to see a new dawn, without occupation, without
settlement, without separation walls, without prisons where thousands of
prisoners are detained, without assassinations, without siege, without
barriers around villages and (inaudible).
I look forward, Mr. President, to see that our prisoners have been set free
and returned to exercise their role in supporting peace and to stand by us
in our mission to build our statehood and our homeland.
It is my duty to say that, to have peace, we need the fate of the city of
Jerusalem to be a critical component in any peace accord that we might
We need East Jerusalem to be our capital and to establish open relations
with western Jerusalem, and to ensure for all the faithful from all
religions their right to exercise their rituals and to access holy shrines
without any discrimination and on the basis of international and
In this regard, I wish to emphasize that we shall pursue our obligations
under the road map, in order to combat chaos, violence, terrorism, and to
ensure security, order and the rule of law.
The government of the Palestinian National Authority works tirelessly and
without any wavering under extremely conditions to achieve this noble goal
that represents, first and foremost, a Palestinian national interest before
it becomes a political requirement that is imposed by signed accords or the
Our people distinguish completely between emphasis on the danger of
terrorism and using it as a pretext to maintain the status quo and to pursue
the current practices that we suffer from every day.
There must be a chance given to us to build our civilian security and
And the international community must sponsor this opportunity so that our
authority and our government would fully fulfill their mandates.
I must emphasize that our determination to end occupation emanates from our
vision that we would remove the most important reasons for terrorism in our
region and worldwide without underestimating the need to fight terrorism
under all circumstances and from any source. Because it is a comprehensive
threat that threatens the future of every people and imperils human
civilization, its gains and achievements, and brings dire consequences on
all of us.
Here, I must applaud the tireless efforts undertaken by Mr. Tony Blair, who
continues to work in order to build and enhance building Palestinian
institutions and to complete great projects at the economic level in order
to improve the living conditions and the terms of peace. And in that
endeavor, he continues to submit very constructive ideas.
And I wish to pay tribute to the role of the European Union, Japan and our
Arab brothers who made commitments to support these economic projects and
building the future Palestinian state institutions.
Mr. President, I would like to take this opportunity to address the mind and
conscience of every citizen in Israel from this rostrum.
I'm speaking on the basis for our recognition that, despite the importance
of international and regional support for the success of the peace process,
but the most determining factor for the making peace and stability and its
sustainability at the end of the day is the public opinion in Palestine,
Israel and their legitimate leaders.
I start by saying that, despite our disagreements on critical issues, but
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert showed desire for peace that I have perceived
during our bilateral discussions, and that genuinely contributed to reach
this important step for which we are meeting today in order to launch.
Mr. Prime Minister, I wish that we, together, continue and closely work in
order to achieve a historical mission that we have waited for too long.
Each one of us must pitch in our weight and experience and sense of resolve
in order to overcome the obstacles that we will face and to close the gaps
between our positions in a bid to achieve a solution that would end
occupation and the long years of suffering of the refugees and ensure good
neighbor relations, economic cooperation, humanitarian openness so that all
of them would ensure guarantees for peace that are stronger than any
documents, commitments or pledges, despite the importance of these all.
I say to the citizens of Israel, in this extraordinary day, you, our
neighbors on this small land, neither us nor you are begging for peace from
each other. It is a common interest for us and for you.
Peace and freedom is a right to us, in as much as peace and security is a
right for you and for us.
Time has come for the cycle of blood, violence and occupation to come to an
end. Time has come that both of us should look at the future with confidence
and hope, and that this long-suffering land, which was called the land of
love and peace, would not be worth of its own name.
Peace is not impossible to achieve if there was will and good faith and
every party got its legitimate right.
Those who say that peace-making between us is impossible, actually does not
need except to perpetuate this conflict toward the unknown, but it is, we
all know, in other words, that continuation of bloodshed for many decades to
come. After that, we would not reach the solution proposed today, all of
which we know, all its components and elements. Or the ideal of peace would
be killed in the hearts and minds.
Indeed, peace is possible but it requires our common efforts so that we
could make it and preserve it.
And on this day we stretch our hands to you as equal partners in peace. The
whole world is our witness and the world as a whole is supporting us.
Therefore, we should not lose this opportunity which might not be available
once again. Let us make a peace with a brave (ph) and protect that peace in
the interest of the future of our children and your children.
ABBAS (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): To our friends across the globe, members of the
international quartet, and all participants in this conference, powers and
states outside this conference who have been and continue to lend support
for us, I say to all of you that our people will never, ever forget your
support for it under all circumstances and under our most difficult times.
We look forward that your political presence will continue to be with us
after this conference, in order to support Palestinian-Israeli negotiations
with a view to reach the desired results.
We all hope that the work of this conference would be supported by the
success of the Paris economic conference to be held after a few weeks.
The continuation and success of negotiations would be the real key to change
the face of the entire region.
Allah, the Lord, said in the Koran, in the name of God, the compassionate,
the merciful, all you who believe, enter into peace, all of you, don't
follow the steps of Satan.
Satan is your obvious enemy."
The Lord also said, "If they move toward peace, then you should move to
peace and have faith in the Lord, because God, the Lord, will listen and
support that effort."
And on this occasion, may I record here, as we are here in the United States
of America, the words of former United States President John F. Kennedy, who
said, quote, "Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to
negotiate," end of quotation.
ABBAS (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): To our Palestinian people, to all Palestinians
in Gaza, Jerusalem, the West Bank, and in refugee camps and the diaspora,
may I address these words?
I do recognize that each one of you has his or her personal pain, personal
tragedy as a result of this conflict and as a result of the years of tragedy
and occupation. These are very bitter years.
Don't be depressed, Don't lose confidence and hope, For the whole world
today now is stretching its hand toward us in order to help us put an end to
our tragedy, to our holocaust that has been running for too long, and to
lift the historical injustice that our people suffer.
And we shall be ready as individuals and as a people to overcome pain and
the tragedy when we reach a settlement that would ensure our rights, that
would make us equal with all other peoples in the whole world: the right to
independence and self-determination.
To the Palestinian mothers who are awaiting the return of their children
from prisons, to the Palestinian children who are dreaming of a new life, a
better future -- more prosperous, more safe future, to our brave
prisoners -- my sisters, brothers, children -- wherever you are, have
confidence in the future and tomorrow, because future Palestine is coming,
because this is the promise of the whole world to you.
Be confident that the dawn is coming.
To my people and relatives in the Gaza Strip, you are at the core of my
heart. The hours of darkness will end in the face of your resolve and
determination. For your insistence on the unity of our people in the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip as one geographical political unit without any
divergence, your suffering will end. Right and peace will prevail.
May I close by recalling some words of Abraham Lincoln in one of the darkest
moments of American history? Quote, "Let us strive on to finish the work we
are in, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace
among ourselves and with all nations," end of quotation.
We started with peace and I end on a note of peace and we hope that peace
would prevail. Peace be upon all of you.