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Monday, October 23, 2000
Document: Speech by Yasser Arafat at the Arab Summit in Cairo - 21 October 2000

[Introductory paragraphs omitted]

Your Majesties, Excellencies, and Highnesses: The direct reason for
holding this extraordinary summit is the wave of savage violence that
our Palestinian people have been subjected to.Document: Speech by Yasser Arafat at the Arab Summit in Cairo - 21 October 2000

[Introductory paragraphs omitted]

Your Majesties, Excellencies, and Highnesses: The direct reason for
holding this extraordinary summit is the wave of savage violence that
our Palestinian people have been subjected to. This wave started when
Sharon desecrated the Al-Aqsa mosque and its compound. With this
premeditated step, that was conducted in concert with the Israeli
Government, Sharon set off a spark that spread from Jerusalem to
every Arab, Muslim, and Christian city and village, including the
cities and villages of Galilee and the Triangle.

This visit was not simply a passing act like those committed by the
settlers against our holy shrines; instead, it created a new
dimension in the Arab-Israeli struggle. I remind you that when he was
defense minister, and a minister in past governments before that,
as well as an army commander, he was barred from visiting such holy
shrines. Therefore, what took place was planned in collusion with the
Israeli Government.

A new, religious, dimension was added to the Arab-Israeli struggle.
Everyone is well aware of the critical nature of this dimension, and
knows how difficult it is to contain it and control its
repercussions. The Israeli delegation detonated this dimension
at the end of our talks in the second Camp David summit. When I say
this step was premeditated, I say it because as soon as Sharon's
intention to conduct this visit was announced, we warned the Israeli
Government of the dangers of what Sharon intended to do. We also
warned the United States of this and informed our brothers, friends,
and international forces of this.

Instead of taking our warning seriously, the Israeli Government
granted Sharon special permission to conduct the visit and even
provided him with full military and security protection. He did not
pay such a visit when he was defense minister and army commander in
past governments. This reveals what was being planned against us.

Our people, who were worshipping in Al-Aqsa, countered Sharon with
their chests and naked fists, and prevented him from conducting this
dangerous visit, forcing him to leave the holy place. The Israeli
Government, however, did not forgive the Palestinian worshippers for
their steadfastness, and committed a new massacre during Friday
prayers in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on the very next day. We all
saw the bloody chapters of this massacre in the media.

Your Majesties, Excellencies, and Highnesses, innocent blood was shed
abundantly on the pure Al-Aqsa land. A new procession of honorable
people of this nation was added to the martyrs who defend the holy
places and who stand fast on this blessed land and defend its purity
with faith and pride. There is no inch of Palestinian territory that
has not been saturated with Arab blood that is dear to all of us. The
blood that was shed in Al-Aqsa definitely unleashed the wrath in the
hearts of our Palestinian masses everywhere in the homeland. The
unarmed citizens rose to express their feelings in a legitimate
spontaneous intifada to uphold Arab, Islamic, and Christian values in
accordance with the Umarite Covenant. The Israelis canceled this
covenant, by claiming sovereignty over Al-Haram al-Sharif and forging
its history and reality and saying it is the place where the temple
was built, by licentiously attacking the worshippers in its mosques
and those defending its honor and sanctity, or by attempting to
Judaize holy Jerusalem and its Christian and Islamic holy places and
imposing a siege on Bethlehem. We have repeatedly warned the
United States, the European countries, and the friendly countries
against the serious consequences of this rejected hypothesis. We also
contacted all the peace-loving forces about this and told them that
this would lead the region to religious wars with untold
consequences. Since the eruption of Al-Aqsa intifada, our unarmed
people have been facing the broadest collective extermination
campaign and barbaric bombardment, coupled with an iron-clad and
stifling siege by the Israeli war machine against more than 3 million

The Israeli Government, supported by some international quarters,
tried to portray the mass extermination campaign against our people
as a military engagement between two military sides, and the
expression of the need to reach a framework for cease-fire between
the two sides unjustly surfaced. However, this attempt failed as
proved by the issuance of the recent UN Security Council Resolution
1322 condemning the Israeli aggression and calling for the formation
of an international investigation committee whose task is to find
mechanisms to prevent the recurrence of this unjust aggression.
Before this resolution, there was the Jerusalem Committee meeting in
fraternal Morocco with the participation of the representatives of
the Jerusalem patriarchs and churches for the first time in Islamic
meetings, as Your Majesty knows. These meetings highlighted
Islamic-Christian unity.

The Arab foreign ministers also met in Cairo. Many initiatives were
made to contain the volatile situation within the framework of this
protracted and complex battle in the political field and on the
ground. All these initiatives were confronted by the Israeli
insistence on pursuing the aggression. Most of the Israeli political
and military leaders admitted that they have been planning for more
than one year to ignite this fire, that has not stopped until now and
which inflicted more than 7,000 wounded and 170 martyrs. The number
of martyrs rose to 193 yesterday, in addition to a large number of
prisoners and missing, not to mention the economic and financial
losses and the banning of our workers from working, thus placing more
than 150,000 workers among the ranks of the unemployed. Large
quantities of agricultural produce were destroyed, houses and
establishments were demolished with missiles, and many colleges and
even command and presidential centers and many other sites were set
on fire and attacked. And do thou be patient, for thy patience is but
from God.

In view of the military escalation, in which Israel used new types of
internationally banned destructive weapons and ammunition, His
Excellency President Muhammed Hosni Mubarak has called for a limited
emergency summit in Sharm al-Sheikh to stop the aggression and
discuss the formation of an international commission of inquiry. The
summit was held under the sponsorship of President Mubarak and the
participation of US President Bill Clinton, His Majesty King Abdallah
II, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and EU representative Javier
Solana. I do not want to go into detail about this summit and
its results, which you have heard from President Hosni Mubarak.

I would like to remind you that following the Paris conference, in
which His Excellency President Chirac participated, we were supposed
to continue the talks at Sharm al-Sheikh under the sponsorship of
President Mubarak. However, Barak did not attend that meeting. He
returned to further kindle the confrontation with our people.

Yesterday he said he will kindle, increase, and double the offensive
on our people with all types of shells and military confrontations,
as you may have read in the papers and news media yesterday.

Your Majesties, Excellencies, and Highnesses: The Sharm al-Sheikh
summit was only a station on a long road. We should continue along
this road not only for the sake of stopping the military aggression
against our people and the blockade imposed on our cities, but also
to put a final end to all causes of aggression, killing, and
suffering. This will happen only when Israel is forced to submit to
international legitimacy, implement the signed agreements, stop
aggression, open the international border posts, lift the siege on
our cities and people, and withdraw from all the occupied Palestinian
and Arab territories, including the Syrian territories and the last
Lebanese territory in Shab'a.

Israel should lift the siege on our cities and people and withdraw
from all the Palestinian and Arab territories, including holy
Jerusalem, the capital of our independent Palestinian state. It
should also solve the issue of refugees justly on the basis of
Resolution 194 and the other international resolutions.

Brothers, I recall at this important meeting the fact that the Arab
summits have always been the first to raise the banner of a just,
permanent, and comprehensive peace. The Arab summits are the advocate
of the loftiest and most important plan for peace in the Middle East,
particularly after the Madrid peace conference.

It is true that part of the just and comprehensive peace has been
achieved on parts of our beloved Arab land, but the territory still
under occupation in Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon made the issue of
peace in the Middle East a constantly explosive issue putting
the region on the verge of danger. All that has been achieved will
collapse if not complemented by what has not been achieved.

This requires us all to examine with a great degree of seriousness
and responsibility the means to provide real support for our Arab
view of peace and our legitimate rights, while reminding the world,
of which we are a vital part, that regional and international
stability depends on fulfilling all Arab rights stipulated by
international legitimacy resolutions. The international community,
especially the peace process sponsors, the EU, China, Japan, Norway,
the nonaligned countries, and all those who support the peace
process, must shoulder their responsibilities toward the peace

The bloody events that resulted from the Israeli aggression against
our Palestinian people have shown that the dangers of the absence of
a just and lasting peace are not limited to a specific geographical
area; instead these dangers spread and threaten international
security and stability.

Allow me dear brothers to say more than this, and address the United
States, not just because it is a peace process sponsor, but also
because it is the world power with distinguished responsibilities on
the universal level and because it is directly interested in all
areas of conflict in our world. The Middle East peace process has
suffered from the absence of the balance needed to offer real chances
for the progress of this process and the reaching of effective
results in it.

The world undoubtedly clearly sees that the Middle East peace sponsor
must not give any leeway in adopting international legitimacy as the
legal bases of rights and obligations. Moreover, the sponsor must not
stop the contributions of states interested in peace in our region.

I would like to draw attention to an issue where political dimensions
mix with morals, where the concept of impartial sponsorship of the
peace process does not go in line with the excessively harsh stands
against the Palestinian people. These stands are embodied
in many of the US Congress's decisions, which adopt a stand hostile
to the Palestinian people and their rights. Despite our extreme
bitterness toward these stands, I objectively note US President Bill
Clinton's positive stands, for whom we have respect and whose
continuous work and initiatives to protect the peace process and push
it forward we appreciate.

Your majesties, your excellencies, your highnesses: Speaking from the
highest Arab forum, I reiterate that despite all the scars and
disappointments of the difficult trek of peace on the Palestinian
track, we choose a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace. I
reiterate that our goals are the liberation of our land, the
establishment of our independent state on the blessed land of
Palestine with holy Jerusalem as its capital, and the return of
refugees based on international legitimacy resolutions, especially
Resolutions 181 and 194.

These goals, which our Palestinian People and Arab and Muslim nations
agree on, and which the entire world and the UN support, must be
realized this year. We have a natural right to self-determination. It
is also the responsibility of our Arab nation and its struggling
peoples, who support us and all Arab causes with strength, to offer
all means of support to achieve these goals. Our people of
revolutionary struggle, the people of the glorious intifada, whose
waves will only stop with victory, pledge to every Arab, Muslim,
Christian, and friend to continue their struggle using all legitimate
means to reach victory.

We call on you to take a true Arab stand of pride that is in line
with the history of this glorious Arab nation, its capabilities, and
the sacrifices of its steadfast peoples in protection of their holy
shrines, land, and future. I would like to thank all our brothers and
friends in the world who support our just struggle and cause. I would
also like to thank them for their help at all levels.

I conclude my speech by conveying the message of my people to you,
the Arab leaders, calling on you to disregard all differences and
reach inter-Arab reconciliation which will put the corner stone for a
new Arab era that is in line with the status of our nation and the
greatness of our pan-Arab goals. This also requires us all to end the
siege imposed on the Iraqi people and make way for real and
comprehensive Arab reconciliation and openness within our single Arab
nation. For the sake of the children of Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon,
Syria, and the rest of the Arab nation, we call on you to entrench
unity and integration.

Let this be our slogan and goal.

And we wished to be gracious to those who were being depressed in the
land, to make them leaders in faith and them heirs, to establish a
firm place for them in the land.

Peace and Allah's blessings be upon you.

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