Chairman Yasser Arafat

Address at the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement Signing Ceremony

delivered 28 September 1995, Washington, D.C.

 

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President Clinton  Foreign Minister Peres  President Mubarak  King Hussein bin Talal  Prime Minister Rabin

 

[as prepared for delivery]

President William Clinton, President of the United States; Your Majesty King Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt; Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, Prime Minister of Spain and President in Office of the European Council; Mr. Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel; your excellencies; ministers and ambassadors; ladies and gentlemen:

We are gathered today under the sponsorship of President Clinton, who has generously offered to host the signing of this agreement. It has been two years since we met at the White House to sign the Declaration of Principles which we and our Israeli partners had agreed to in Oslo. We meet again today to make new headway in giving hope to this historic process -- the process of realizing a credible peace, reconciliation, and co-existence between the Palestinian and Israeli people, and the peace of the brave, which we achieved on Egyptian land at Taba under President Mubarak’s auspices.  A significant portion of Palestinian national rights reverts today to the Palestinian people through their control of the cities, villages, and populated areas. Recovery of this portion is a step in the implementation of the interim agreement, the signing of which we are gathered here to witness.  It is also a step which paves the way to free and democratic Palestinian elections capping, thereby, the political components required for the establishment of an independent Palestinian national entity on the Palestinian territories.

These steps, which required tremendous efforts as well as exhausting and relentless work throughout the past months, do not make us oblivious of the fact that added diligence lies ahead to implement this agreement on our land in the West Bank. We still carry on our shoulders many other tasks, such as moving to the permanent status negotiations.  The permanent status negotiations will deal with such issues as settlements, the delineation of the borders, the rights of Palestinian refugees as determined by the international legitimacy, and the fundamental issue concerning the status of Jerusalem, which our people, irrespective of their faith -- Muslims, Christians, or Jews -- consider to be the heart and soul of their entity and the center of their cultural, spiritual, and economic life. I would say that the sanctity of Jerusalem for us all dictates that we make it the joint cornerstone and the capital of peace between the Palestinian and the Israeli people, inasmuch as it is a beacon for believers all over the world.  We urge you all to recognize the importance of this historic interim step. It demonstrates the irreversibility of the peace process. Its distinct significance lies in the verdict passed by history, the international community, and human civilization at the turn of the century -- that a just and comprehensive peace be established on this sacred land, whereby the Israeli and Palestinian people would co-exist on the basis of mutual recognition of the rights, while enjoying a quality and self-determination without occupation or repeated wars, and, without terrorism.

At this point, I must tell our Israeli partners from this solemn rostrum and in the presence of our brethren and friends who have come here from the region and from all over the world, particularly those who contributed to the realization of this agreement, that our past experience underscores the need to be more credible and committed to our steps in the future. And the commitment should be precise, honest, and mutual. For our part, we will honor our commitments.  That is why the continuation and expansion of the settlement drive, as the situation in the city of Hebron and elsewhere shows, lead to the persistence of tensions. Likewise, continued qualms about a new and dependent Palestinian birth convey to each and every Palestinian the feeling that his or her life shall remain in jeopardy.  Today, standing before you, I tell you with courage and a sense of responsibility that our participation in the great peace process means that we are betting everything on the future. Therefore, we must condemn and foreswear violence totally, not only because the use of violence is morally reprehensible, but because it undermines Palestinian aspirations to the realization of peace and the exercise of our political and national options and the achievement of economic and cultural progress in Palestine and in the region.

From this day on, we do not want to see any waste of, or threat to, any innocent Palestinian life or any innocent Israeli life. Enough killing and enough killing of innocent people.

I urge you, Mr. President, together with all our brethren and friends gathered here, to keep up the drive for a comprehensive and just settlement in our region on all tracks, especially the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, to complete all aspects of the process.  Ladies and gentlemen, we are still striving on two parallel fronts. One is to achieve a just political solution to our problem; the other is to build a homeland on modern and democratic grounds. For us to succeed on both fronts, we are bound to base the emerging Palestinian political system on the principles of liberty, democracy, separation of powers, freedom of expression, and national initiative. We are also bound to continue building Palestinian institutions and the Palestinian national economy. But this enterprise is still in its early stages, and our institutions have yet to mature.

The road ahead remains long, indeed. We look forward to your continued support of our people. And we thank all friendly and brotherly donors for their assistance. Mr. President, the experience of your great country -- the country of freedom, democracy, and human rights -- taught us that freedom is absolutely indivisible. And here, I would like to emphasize to you and to our people and to our devoted friends that our people’s freedom will remain lacking without all our detainees walking free. All the martyrs, the wounded, and the victims shared one dream.  They dreamt of freedom and a just peace for their children, for Israeli children, and for the future generations on both sides. In keeping with that dream and with that correct vision, we shall continue along this path -- the path and reconciliation of the brave, notwithstanding its difficulties.

In conclusion, Mr. President, I thank you deeply for your devotion to this process and the historic reconciliation. I greatly appreciate your personal involvement and the role played by your able aides and by members of your Administration who helped us all along to overcome and settle difficulties.

I am very grateful to my brother, His Excellency President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak, for his great and sincere efforts and for his fruitful involvement until the Taba Agreement was crowned with success. I hail the support of the custodial of the two holy shrines, King Fahd, and the stand and support of His Majesty King Hassan II. I especially thank my brother, His Majesty King Hussein, for his support, for his efforts, and for his invaluable counseling.

I thank President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali for his diligence and efforts.  I also thank my brethren, the Arab leaders, for lending us a willing hand. I appreciate the role of the Russian sponsor and that of President Yeltsin, who spared no efforts or advice to push the peace process closer to its historic destination.

I appreciate, too, the role of permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. I expressed my appreciation to Norway, a friendly country that has guided us throughout the process. I thank the presidency in office and the member states of the European Union who exerted maximum efforts and extended great support throughout this march. I thank Japan, a friendly country whose backing was vital to our efforts. I thank the friendly and brotherly nations which helped realize this historic event, particularly the non-aligned movement, the African countries, and the Islamic nations.

I am also grateful and thankful to Mr. Rabin, the Prime Minister of Israel; and Mr. Peres, the Israeli Foreign Minister; and their able aides and assistants for all their tireless efforts they exerted with us to reach this joint agreement. I tell them, let us nurture this peace of the brave for the sake of our grandchildren, of our people, and of the region as a whole.

Thank you very much, Mr. President. I wish to thank you and the First Lady, and I wish to thank your country and your people. My best wishes and happiness and prosperity for all of you.

Thank you.


Text Source: Office of Public Communication, Bureau of Public Affairs he U.S. Government. Accessed 9 July 2012 online at: http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ERC/briefing/dispatch/1995/html/Dispatchv6no41.html

U.S Copyright Status: Text = Public domain.

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