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Yasser Arafat's 1988 UN Speech Featured

December 13th, 1988

In 1988, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) decided to renounce terrorism in order to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That same year, Yasser Arafat, leader of the PLO, made a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, which was meeting exceptionally in Geneva, and proposed a peace plan to the Israeli authorities present in the room.

Legend photo: Yasser Arafat's Speech Before the Forty-Third Session of the United Nations General Assembly - 13 December 1988. Archives United Nations, Geneva.

Created in 1964 in Jerusalem, the PLO brings together several Palestinian resistance movements, whose objective is the creation of an independent Palestinian state. Following the Six Day War, which resulted in Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the movement hardened and the number of armed actions increased. In 1969, the Egyptian Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestinian nationalist movement, became chairman of the PLO's Executive Committee. With the help of the armed wing of Fatah, the PLO carried out hundreds of armed actions against the Israeli state, before giving up terrorism in 1988.

Since 1969, Yasser Arafat has sought international recognition for the PLO. In 1974, for the first time, the UN placed the Palestinian question on the agenda of the General Assembly, despite strong opposition from Israel. On this occasion, Yasser Arafat was invited to speak. It was the first time that a non-governmental organization took part in a UN plenary assembly.

Yasser Arafat presented the goals of the PLO and defended the creation of a Palestinian state as the only solution to peace. The impact of this visit was significant for the Palestinian resistance movement, as the UN passed a resolution recognizing the right of Palestinians to self-determination and in a second resolution granted the PLO observer status at the UN.

On November 15, 1988, the independence of Palestine was proclaimed by the Palestinian National Council, established in Algiers. The UN partition plan of 1947 was also accepted, with the division of historic Palestine into two states, one Palestinian and one Jewish. A month later in Geneva, at the UN General Assembly, Yasser Arafat made a speech that reiterated the independence of Palestine and confirmed the PLO's renunciation of all forms of terrorist violence. Arafat presented the new contours of PLO policy: acceptance of all UN resolutions and affirmation of the will to compromise. Arafat also explicitly referred to UN Security Council Resolution 242, which recognizes the rights of all states to sovereignty, and likewise backed the idea of an international conference for peace in the Middle East, favored by the UN and the USSR but opposed by Israel.

This assembly was originally scheduled to take place in New York, but when the American authorities refused to provide a visa to Yasser Arafat, the UN passed a resolution requesting that the assembly be held in Geneva.

On December 15, 1988, Palestine's proclamation of independence was recognized by the UN General Assembly with 104 votes in favor and 36 abstentions. Only the United States and Israel voted against independence. In 2019, 138 countries recognized the State of Palestine.

The geneveMonde team invites you to discover here the text of the speech delivered by Yaser Arafat to the UN General Assembly in 1988. This document, which comes from the United Nations Archives in Geneva, is a remarquable archive, that is of great interest for the understanding of the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, of which the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 marks the beginning, and of the Palestinian national liberation movement, of which the PLO is a central chapter.

See the video of his arrival to the UN assembly (in French) here

Text of Yasser Arafat's speech, delivered at the UN in Geneva in 1988

The President (interpretation from Spanish) Taking into consideration the request of the Palestine Liberation Organization that the Chairman of the Executive Committee of that Organization participate in the debate on item 37 of the agenda of the General Assembly at its forty-third session; taking into consideration the opinion of the Legal Counsel of the United Nations and taking into consideration the procedure adopted by the General Assembly for its 2282nd meeting, held on 13 November 1974, I invite Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, to address the General Assembly with regard to agenda item 37.

Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, was escorted into the Assembly Hall.

The President (interpretation from Spanish): On behalf of the General Assembly, I wish to extend a warm welcome to Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization. I now invite him to address the General Assembly.

Mr. Arafat (interpretation from Arabic): It never occurred to me that my second meeting with this Assembly since 1974 would take place in the hospitable city of Geneva. I had thought that the new political stance and postures evolved by our Palestinian people in the course of the Algiers meeting of the Palestine National Council (PNC), all of which have been made public and all of which have been welcomed and extremely well received internationally, made it necessary for me to travel to the world Organization's Headquarters in New York to brief the Assembly on our resolutions and our conceptualizations on the issue of peace in our homeland, as formulated by our Palestine National Council, the highest legislative authority in the Palestinian body politic.

Therefore, my meeting here with you today, in Geneva in the wake of an arbitrary United States decision which barred me from going to the Assembly in New York, is a source of pride and happiness. I am proud to be with you and among you. To be in the General Assembly is to be in the foremost world forum for the issues of justice and peace in the world. I am happy because I am in Geneva, where justice and neutrality are a guidepost and a constitution in a world where the arrogance of power drives some to lose their sense of neutrality and justice. The resolution adopted by your august Assembly, with 154 Member nations voting to move the session here, was not a victory over the United States decision, but an unprecedented landslide triumph for the international unanimity in favour of justice and peace. It was an unprecedented referendum and proof positive that the conscience of humanity has taken our people's just cause to its heart.

That stand will for ever be a source of faith and assurance to every people that suffers injustice, oppression and occupation, and like our Palestinian people, struggle for freedom, dignity and survival.

Our Palestinian people will never forget the stand that this august Assembly and those friendly States have taken on the side of right and justice in defence of the very values and principles for the preservation of which the United Nations came into being. That stand will for ever be a source of faith and assurance to every people that suffers injustice, oppression and occupation, and like our Palestinian people, struggle for freedom, dignity and survival.

To all the States, forces, international organizations and world figures that have backed our people and supported their national rights, particularly our friends in the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, the socialist countries, the non-aligned States, the Islamic States, the African States, the Asian States, the Latin American States, and all other friendly States, I extend our sincerest thanks. I also thank the States of Western Europe and Japan for their latest stands towards our people and invite them to take further steps to work out their resolutions in a positive way in order to pave the way for peace and a just settlement in our region, the Middle East.

I reiterate our solidarity with and support for the liberation movements in Namibia and South Africa in their struggle, and our support for the African front-line States against the aggression of the South African regime.

I seize this opportunity to express my gratitude to those friendly States which have taken the initiative in supporting us, in endorsing our Palestine National Council resolutions and in recognizing the State of Palestine.

And I will not miss this opportunity warmly to thank His Excellency the Secretary-General, Mr. Javier Perez de Cuellar, and his assistants for their unremitting efforts to achieve humanity's aspirations after international detente and the resolution of its problems, particularly with relation to the cause of Palestine. I also extend my thanks and appreciation to the Chairman and other members of the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for their efforts on behalf of our people's cause. I also salute the non-aligned nations' Committee of Nine on the Palestine Question for all their constructive contributions to our people's cause.

To you, Sir, I extend my warmest congratulations on your election to the presidency of the Assembly. I have full confidence in your wisdom and insight. I also congratulate your predecessor on his skilful handling of the proceedings of the previous session.

Lastly, I extend warm greetings and thanks to the Swiss Government and people for making this meeting possible and for all the excellent facilities they have provided.

Fourteen years ago, on 13 November 1974, I received a gracious invitation from you to brief this august Assembly on the cause of our Palestinian people. As I stand here among you now, after all those eventful years, I see that new peoples have taken their places in your midst, thereby crowning their victories in their battles for freedom and independence. To the representatives of those peoples, I extend the warm congratulations of our own people and declare that I return to you with a stronger voice, a more resolute determination and greater confidence to reiterate my conviction that our struggle will bear fruit and that the State of Palestine, which we proclaimed at our Palestine National Council, will take its place among you to join hands with you in consolidating the Charter of this Organization and the universal Declaration of Human Rights by putting an end to the tragedies besetting humanity and upholding the principles of right, justice, peace and freedom for all.

It is a tree that bears the promise of victory over oppression, injustice and occupation.

Fourteen years ago, when your voices resounded in the General Assembly Hall: "Yes to Palestine and the people of Palestine! Yes to the Palestine Liberation Organization! Yes to the inalienable national rights of the people of Palestine!" There were those who imagined that your resolutions would have little import. They failed to realize that those resolutions were among the mainstreams that watered the olive branch I carried that day, and made that branch, which we have watered with our blood, sweat and tears, grow into a tree firmly rooted in the ground and reaching for the sky. It is a tree that bears the promise of victory over oppression, injustice and occupation. Thus you gave us hope that freedom and justice will triumph, and we, in return, gave you a generation of our people that has dedicated its life to the realization of that dream. I speak of the generation of the blessed intifadah that today defends the honour of the homeland with the very stones of its soil and thus earns its belongingness to a people thirsting for freedom and independence.

I bring you greetings from those sons of our heroic people, from our men and our women, from the masses of the blessed intifadah, which is now entering its second year with great momentum and painstaking organization, using a civilized, democratic approach to weather and confront occupation, oppression, injustice and the barbaric crimes committed daily by the Israeli occupiers.

I bring you greetings from our young men and women in the gaols and collective detention camps of occupation, greetings from the children of stones who are challenging an occupation force armed with warplanes, armour and weapons, thus reviving the image of Palestinian David confronting the heavily armed Israeli Goliath.

At the conclusion of my address in our first encounter, I, as Chairman of the' Palestine Liberation Organization and leader of the Palestinian Revolution, reaffirmed that we had no wish to see a single drop of Jewish or Arab blood shed, that we had no wish for the fighting to continue for one more minute. I appealed to you then to spare us all those ordeals and agonies and speed up the laying of the foundations of a just peace based on securing the rights, hopes and aspirations of our people and the equal rights of all peoples.

I said then that I was calling upon you to stand by the struggle of our people to exercise their right to self-determination and enable our people to return from the compulsory exile into which they were forced at gunpoint. I asked you to help put an end to the injustice dished out to successive generations of our people over several decades, so that they may live as free and sovereign people on their native soil and in their homes, and enjoy all their national and human rights.

The dream we had then was the establishment of a democratic State of Palestine wherein Moslems, Christians and Jews would live as equals...

The last thing I said from this rostrum was that war breaks out from Palestine and peace starts in Palestine. The dream we had then was the establishment of a democratic State of Palestine wherein Moslems, Christians and Jews would live as equals, who enjoy the same rights and have the same obligations in a unified integrated community just like any other people in this contemporary world of ours.

Our amazement was great indeed at the interpretation that Israeli officialdom chose to put on that Palestinian dream whose fountainhead was none other than the teachings of the monotheistic religions that illuminated the Palestine sky and the cultural and humanistic values that call for coexistence in a free democratic society. The interpretation was that the dream was an evil design to destroy and obliterate their identity.

We had to draw the inescapable conclusion from that response. We had to take cognizance of the chasm between reality and the dream. We set out, in the Palestine Liberation Organization, to look for alternative realistic and achievable formulas capable of resolving the issue on the basis of possible rather than absolute justice while securing the rights of our people to freedom, sovereignty and independence; ensuring peace, security and stability for all and sparing Palestine and the Middle East wars and battles that have been going on for 40 years.

Were we not the ones who took the initiative of relying on the Charter and resolutions of the United Nations, the Declaration of Human Rights and international legitimacy as the basis for the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict? Did we not welcome the Vance-Gromyko communiqué of 1977 as a move that could form the basis of a proposed solution to this conflict? Did we not agree to participate in the Geneva Conference on the basis of the American-Egyptian statement of 1977 in order to promote the prospects of a settlement and peace in our region? Did we not endorse the Fez Arab peace plan in 1982 and later the call for an international peace conference under the auspices of the United Nations in conformity with its resolutions? Did we not support the Brezhnev plan for peace in the Middle East? Did we not welcome and support the Venice Declaration by the European Community on the basics of a just peace in the area? Did we not welcome and support the joint initiative of Presidents Gorbachev and Mitterrand on a preparatory committee for the international conference? Did we not welcome scores of political statements and initiatives by African, Islamic, non-aligned, socialist, European States and groups of States which aimed at finding a settlement based on the principles of international legitimacy that would safeguard peace and end the conflict?

And what was Israel's posture in relation to all this? When we put this question, we must keep in mind that not a single one of those initiatives, plans or communiqués lacked political balance or overlooked the claims and interests of any of the parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Israel's posture in relation to all this has been to escalate further its settler expansionist schemes, to fan the flames of conflict with more destruction, devastation and bloodshed and the expansion of the fronts of confrontation to Include Lebanon, which was invaded by the armies of occupation in 1982. That invasion involved the slaughtering and massacring of the Lebanese and Palestinian peoples, including the Sabra and Shatila horrors. Up to the present, Israel has continued to occupy part of South Lebanon. Lebanon continues to face daily raids and air, sea and land attacks on its cities and villages and on our camps in the South.

"It is equally painful and distressing that the American Government should persist in refusing to recognize the right of 6 million Palestinians to self-determination, a right which is sacred to the American people and other peoples on this planet".

It is painful and distressing that the American Government alone should continue to back and support those Israeli aggressive and expansionist schemes and support Israel's continued occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories, its ongoing crimes and its pursuance of the iron-fist policy against our women and children. It is equally painful and distressing that the American Government should persist in refusing to recognize the right of 6 million Palestinians to self-determination, a right which is sacred to the American people and other peoples on this planet.

Should I remind them of the position of President Wilson, author of the two universal principles of international relations, namely, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and the right of peoples to self-determination? When the Palestinian people were consulted by the King-Crane commission in 1919, they chose the United States as the Mandatory Power. Circumstances having prevented that, the Mandate was given to Britain. My question to the American people is: Is it fair that the Palestinian people should be deprived of what President Wilson prescribed?

Successive American Administrations have been aware that the only birth certificate upon which the State of Israel was established has been General assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, endorsed at the time by the United States and the Soviet Union. It provides for the establishment of two States in Palestine, one Palestinian Arab and the other Jewish.

How then can the American Government justify a position whereby it acknowledges and recognizes the half of that resolution that pertains to Israel and rejects the half pertaining to the Palestinian State? How does the United States Government explain its lack of commitment to the implementation of a resolution it has endorsed on more than one occasion in the Assembly, namely. General Assembly resolution 194 (III), which provides for the right of the Palestinians to return to the homes and properties from which they were evicted and calls for compensating those who may not wish to exercise that right?

The United States Government knows that neither the United States nor anyone else has the right of fragmenting international legitimacy and the provisions of international law.

The unremitting struggle of our people for their rights has been going on for several decades now. In waging that struggle, our people have offered hundreds of thousands of martyrs and wounded and endured all kinds of tragic suffering. This, however, has not weakened our people's resolve. Rather, it has strengthened their determination to hold on to their Palestinian homeland and their national identity.

The leaders of Israel, in their excitement, deluded themselves into believing that, after our exit from Beirut, the sea was going to swallow the Palestine Liberation Organization. Little did they expect the march into exile to turn into a procession of return to the homeland, to the real arena of the conflict, to occupied Palestine. The valiant popular intifadah erupted within our occupied land, the intifadah that has come to stay until the achievement of our goals of freedom and national independence.

I take pride in being one of the sons of those people who are writing with the blood of their children, their women and their men the most glorious epic of national resistance and who, for the sake of sustaining their intifadah and making it grow until it can impose its will and prove that right can prevail over might, are performing daily miracles that verge on the mythical. We salute with deep pride our people of the intifadah as the makers of a unique democratic revolutionary experiment. Theirs is the faith that could not be crushed by Israel's military machine) that could not be intimidated by the hail of all sorts it of bullets, the burial of people alive, the breaking of bones, the inducement of miscarriages or the usurpation of water resources. Theirs is the resolve that could not be weakened by detention, internment, exile, deportation, collective punishment, the demolition of homes, the closing down of universities, schools, trade unions, associations, institutions and newspapers, or the laying of siege to camps, villages and towns. Those brutal measures have only served to strengthen their faith and resolve, thus spreading the revolution to every house and making it take root in every inch of our national soil.

A people with such a heritage and such a history cannot be defeated.

A people with such a heritage and such a history cannot be defeated. All the forces of repression, tyranny and terror cannot sway it from its deep-rooted faith in its right to its homeland and in such values as justice, peace, love, coexistence and tolerance. Just exactly as the revolutionary's gun has protected us from physical liquidation and the destruction of our national identity in the hotbeds of confrontation, we are fully confident of our ability to protect our green olive branch in the hotbeds of political confrontation.

The world-wide embrace of our just cause, pressing for the realization of peace based on justice, clearly demonstrates that the world has come to realize, unequivocally, who the executioner is and who the victim is, who the aggressor is and who the victim is, who the fighter for freedom and peace is and who the terrorist is.

The day-to-day practices of the occupation army and the gangs of fanatic armed settlers against our people, our children and our women, have unmasked the ugly face of Israeli occupation and exposed its true aggressive nature.

This growing world-wide awareness has reached Jewish groups within Israel itself and without. Their eyes have been opened to the reality of the problem and the essence of the conflict, particularly since they have witnessed the inhuman, day-to-day Israeli practices that undermine the tolerant spirit of Judaism itself.

It has become difficult, nay, near impossible, for a Jew to reject racial persecution and uphold freedoms and human rights while remaining silent about Israel's crimes against Palestinian human rights, the Palestinian people and the Palestinian homeland, particularly the ugly day-to-day practices of the occupiers and the gangs of armed settlers.

We distinguish between the Jewish citizen whom the Israeli ruling circles have continuously sought to disinform and mislead and the practices of the leaders of Israel.

We even realize that within and outside Israel there are courageous and honourable Jewish people who do not condone the Israeli Government's policy of repression, massacre, expansion, settlement and expulsion and who recognize that our people have equal rights to life, freedom and independence. On behalf of the Palestinian people, I thank them all for their courageous and honourable stance.

Our people do not want a right that is not theirs or that is not vested in them under international legitimacy and international law. They do not seek freedom at the expense of anyone else's, nor do they want a destiny which negates that of another people. Our people refuse to feel superior to, and refuse to be less than, any other people. Our people want equality with all other peoples to have the same rights and the same obligations. I call upon all the peoples of the world, especially those who experienced Nazi occupation and considered it their duty to put paid to the practice of oppression and injustice by one people against another and help all those who fall victim to terrorism, fascism and nazism. I call upon all those peoples to face up today to the responsibilities put upon them by history towards our long-suffering people, who only want a place for their children under the sun, in their homeland – a place where they can live as free people in a free land, like all other children in the world.

It is cause for optimism that our struggle should culminate in the ongoing intifadah in an international climate marked by a serious and sustained quest for international detente, accord and progress. We are heartened by the successes of the United Nations and its Secretary-General and their effective contribution to the settling of many problems and the defusing of hotbeds of tension in the world in the context of this new international detente.

No one here would dispute the fact that the Palestine problem is the paramount problem of our contemporary world. It is the oldest on the United Nations agenda. It is the most intricate and complex."

Surely, it is impossible to consolidate this new, positive international climate without addressing all the problems and hotbeds of tension around the globe with the aim of formulating the dictates of the human conscience into more accurate and responsible criteria for the evaluation of the actions of men and nations. Such criteria should have the transparency that would enable us all to face up to the challenges and new responsibilities of the coming century, in terms of averting wars and destruction and working for more freedom, well-being, peace and progress for all mankind.

No one here would dispute the fact that the Palestine problem is the paramount problem of our contemporary world. It is the oldest on the United Nations agenda. It is the most intricate and complex. Of all the regional issues, it is the issue that poses the most serious threat to international peace and security. Hence, it has a priority among the issues which command the attention of the two super-Powers and, indeed, all the countries of the world. Therefore, it is necessary to make the required effort to define a course for its resolution on a basis of justice. This, in itself, would be the greatest guarantee of peace in the Middle East.

We in the Palestine Liberation Organization – in our capacity as the leadership responsible for the people of Palestine and their destiny, in all faithfulness to the struggle of our people and respect for the sacrifices of our martyrs; in our desire to contribute to the prevailing climate of coexistence and detente, and our awareness of the importance of participating in the peaceful political efforts to find a political solution that would put an end to the tragedies of war and fighting and pave the way to peaceful coexistence under international law – summoned our Palestine National Council to an extraordinary session in Algiers from 12 to 15 November 1988 with the purpose of defining and clarifying our position as a main party to the Arab-Israeli conflict, a party without whose participation and agreement that conflict cannot be resolved.

I am pleased to inform the Assembly, with great pride, that our Palestine National Council, through a totally free exercise of democracy, has again demonstrated its ability to shoulder its national responsibilities and has adopted serious, constructive and responsible resolutions which pave the way for us to reinforce and highlight our desire to find and contribute to a peaceful settlement that would secure the national and political rights of our people and ensure peace and security for all.

The first and decisive resolution of our Palestine National Council was the proclamation of the establishment of the State of Palestine, with the Holy City of Jerusalem, Al-Quds al-Sharif, as its capital. The State of Palestine was declared by virtue of the Palestinian Arab people's natural, historic and legal right to its homeland, Palestine, and of the sacrifices of its successive generations in defence of the liberty and independence of their homeland; pursuant to the resolutions of the Arab summit conferences; by the authority of international legitimacy, as embodied in the resolutions of the United Nations since 1947; and in exercise by the Palestinian Arab people of their right to self-determination, political independence and sovereignty over their soil, and in conformity with your successive resolutions.

It is important, while repeating this historic proclamation before the international community, now that it has become one of the official United Nations documents, to reaffirm that this is an irreversible decision and that we will not relent until it succeeds in casting off the occupation, enabling our Palestinian people to' exercise their sovereignty in their State, the State of Palestine of the Palestinians, wherever they nay be, so that they may develop their national and cultural identity and enjoy full equality in rights. Their religious and political beliefs and their human dignity shall be safeguarded under a democratic parliamentary system of government built on the freedom of opinion, the freedom to form political parties and where the rights of the minority will be protected by the majority and the decisions of the majority will be respected by the minority. That democratic system will be based on the percepts of social justice and equal rights, freedom from ethnic, religious, racial or sexual discrimination under a constitution that will guarantee the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in full allegiance to the centuries-old spiritual and cultural Palestinian heritage of religious tolerance and coexistence.

The State of Palestine is an Arab state; its people are an integral part of the Arab nation and of that nation's heritage, its civilization and its aspiration after the goals of social progress, unity and liberation. The State of Palestine is committed to the Charter of the League of Arab States, the Charter of the United Nations, 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 it shall work with all States and peoples to attain a permanent peace built on justice and respect of rights.

Our State, God willing, will have its provisional Government at the earliest possible opportunity.

It is a State that believes in the settlement of international and regional disputes by peaceful means in accordance with the Charter and resolutions of the United Nations. It rejects the use of and the threat to use, force, violence or terrorism against its territorial integrity and political independence and, equally, against the territorial integrity of any other State, without prejudice to its natural right to defend its territory and independence.

It is a State that believes that the future can only bring security to those who are just or have returned to justice. This is the State of Palestine which we have proclaimed and which we shall endeavour to embody so that it can take its place among the States of the world and share in and creatively contribute to the shaping of a free world in which justice and peace would prevail.

Our State, God willing, will have its provisional Government at the earliest possible opportunity. The Palestine National Council has mandated the PLO Executive Committee to assume the functions of that government in the interim.

In order to give the aforementioned decision a concrete form, our Palestine National Council adopted a series of resolutions. I would like to highlight the roost salient of those resolutions, which underline our determination to earnestly pursue the path of an equitable peace settlement and to exert the maximum effort to ensure its success.

Our PNC stressed the need to convene an international conference on the subject of the Middle East and its essence, the question of Palestine, under the auspices of the United Nations and with the participation of the permanent members of the Security Council and all the parties to the conflict in the region, including the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, on an equal footing, with the provision that the international conference should be convened on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and should guarantee the legitimate national and political rights of the Palestinian people first and foremost among which is their right to self-determination.

Our PNC also reasserted the need for Israel's withdrawal from all the Palestinian and Arab territories it had occupied since 1967, including Arab Jerusalem; the establishment of the Palestinian State; and the cancellation of all measures of attachment and annexation and removal of the settlements established by Israel in the Palestinian and Arab territories since 1967, as called for in the Arab summit resolutions of Fez and Algiers.

Our PNC also reaffirmed the necessity of seeking to place the occupied Palestinian territories, including Arab Jerusalem, under United Nations supervision for a limited period, in order to protect our people and to provide an atmosphere conducive to a successful outcome for the international conference, the attainment of a comprehensive political settlement and the establishment of security and peace for all peoples and States in the Middle East, through mutual acceptance, and in order to enable the State of Palestine to exercise its effective authority over those territories, as called for by the resolutions of the Arab summits.

Our PNC called also for the solution of the Palestine refugee problem in accordance with United Nations resolutions on the subject. It also stressed that freedom of worship and the practice of religious rites for all faiths should be assured at the holy places in Palestine. The PNC also confirmed its previous resolution with regard to the privileged and special relationship between the fraternal peoples of Jordan and Palestine and that the future relationship between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the State of Palestine and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan would be established on the basis of a confederacy and of free and voluntary choice by the two fraternal peoples in corroboration of the historical ties and vital common interests which linked them.

The PNC reaffirmed the need for the Security Council's establishment and assurance of arrangements for security and peace among all the States in the region.

It is important for me here to point out that these resolutions reflect clearly, both in content and wording, our firm belief in peace and freedom and our total awareness and deep appreciation of the climate of international detente and the eagerness of the international community to reach balanced solutions that address the requirements and fundamental interests of the parties to the conflict. Those resolutions also attest to the earnestness of the Palestinian people's position on the question of peace: that they are committed to peace and believe that it should be secured and guaranteed by the Security Council under the aegis of the United Nations.

The resolutions constitute a firm, unambiguous rebuttal to all arguments, prejudices, stands and pretexts used by some States to cast doubt on the position and policy of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

While our people, through their intifadah and their representatives in the PNC, were voting for peace and, thereby, confirming their positive responsiveness to the prevailing mood of detente in international relations and the growing tendency to settle world conflicts by peaceful means, the Israeli Government went on fanning the flames of aggression, expansionism and religious bigotry, thereby announcing its insistence on opting for belligerence and the denial of our people's right.

The Palestinian side, for its part, has formulated clear and responsible political positions, in consonance with the will of the international community, in order to help convene the International Peace Conference and ensure the success of its proceedings. This gratifying and courageous international backing, as expressed in the recognition of the State of Palestine, is but further proof of the soundness of our course and the credibility of our resolutions, which are fully in harmony with the international will for peace.

While we greatly appreciate the free United States voices that have explained and supported our position and resolutions, we note that the United States Administration remains uncommitted to even-handedness in its dealings with the parties to the conflict. It continues to demand from us alone the acceptance of positions which cannot be determined prior to negotiation and dialogue within the framework of the International Conference.

I would point out here that the recognition of the equality and the mutual rights of both parties to the dispute is the only way to answer the many questions being posed, regardless of their source. If policies as practised on the ground are any reflection of the policy-makers' intentions, then it is the Palestinian side that has more cause to worry and demand reassurances about its fate and its future, facing as it does a State of Israel that is bristling with the latest in arms, including nuclear weapons.

I condemn terrorism in all its forms, and at the same time salute those sitting before me in this Hall who, in the days when they fought to free their countries from the yoke of colonialism, were accused of terrorism by their oppressors and who today are the faithful leaders of their peoples, stalwart champions of the values of justice and freedom.

Our Palestine National Council has reaffirmed its commitment to the United Nations resolutions that uphold the right of peoples to resist foreign occupation, colonialism and racial discrimination, and their right to struggle for independence. It has also reaffirmed its rejection of terrorism in all its forms, including State terrorism, emphasizing its commitment to its past resolutions in this regard, to the resolution of the Arab summit in Algiers in 1988, to General Assembly resolutions 42/159 of 1987 and 40/61 of 1985, and to what was stated on this subject in the relevant Cairo Declaration of 7 November 1985.

This is a position that is clear enough and completely unambiguous. And yet, as chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, I hereby declare once more: I condemn terrorism in all its forms, and at the same time salute those sitting before me in this Hall who, in the days when they fought to free their countries from the yoke of colonialism, were accused of terrorism by their oppressors and who today are the faithful leaders of their peoples, stalwart champions of the values of justice and freedom.

I also offer a reverent salute to the martyrs who have fallen at the hands of terrorism and terrorists, foremost among whom is my lifetime companion and deputy, the martyr-symbol Khalil al-Wazir, and the martyrs who have fallen in the massacres to which our people have been subjected in various cities, villages and camps in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon.

The situation in our Palestinian homeland can abide no further abeyance. Here are our people and our children in the vanguard of the march, carrying the torch of liberty, and giving their lives daily in order to end the occupation and lay the foundations of peace in their free, independent homeland and in the region as a whole.

For this reason, the Palestine National Council adopted its resolutions from a standpoint of realism, taking into account the circumstances of the Palestinians and the Israelis and the need to foster a spirit of tolerance between them.

The United Nations bears a historic, exceptional responsibility towards our people and its rights. More than 40 years ago, the United Nations, in General Assembly resolution 181 (II), decided on the establishment of two States in Palestine, one Palestinian Arab and one Jewish. Despite the historic wrong that was done to our people, it is our view today that the said resolution continues to meet the requirements of international legitimacy, which guarantees the Palestinian Arab people's right to sovereignty and national independence.

Therefore, the acceleration of the tempo of the peace process in the region requires an exceptional effort on the part of all the parties concerned and of the international parties, particularly the United States and the Soviet Union, which bear a special responsibility towards the cause of peace in our region.

The United Nations, the permanent members of the Security Council and all international blocs and bodies have a vital role to play at this stage.

Therefore, in my capacity as Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee which, at present shoulders the functions of the provisional government of the State of Palestine, I present the following Palestinian peace initiative:

First, that a serious effort be made to convene, under the supervision of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the preparatory committee of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East – in accordance with the initiative of President Gorbachev and President Mitterrand, which President Mitterrand presented to the Assembly towards the end of last September and which was supported by many States, in order to pave the way for the convening of the International Conference, which commands universal support, with the exception of the Government of Israel;

Secondly, on the basis of our belief in international legitimacy and the vital role of the United Nations, that actions be undertaken to place our occupied Palestinian land under temporary United Nations supervision, and that international forces be deployed there to protect our people and at the same time supervise the withdrawal of the Israeli forces from our country;

Thirdly, that the PLO will work for the achievement of a comprehensive settlement among the parties concerned in the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the State of Palestine, Israel and the other neighbouring States, within the framework of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East, on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1974), so as to guarantee equality and the balance of interests, especially our people's rights to freedom and national independence, and respect for the right of all the parties to the conflict to exist in peace and security.

If those principles are endorsed at the International Conference, we shall have come a long way towards a just solution, and that will make it possible to reach agreement on all security and peace arrangements.

I hope it is clear to everyone that our Palestinian people, determined as they are to gain their legitimate national rights to self-determination, return and the ending of the occupation of the Palestinian homeland, are equally determined to strive for those goals by peaceful means within the framework of the International Conference, under the sponsorship of the United Nations and in accordance with its Charter and resolutions.

I assure you that, like all other peoples on earth, we are a people that yearn for peace – and perhaps with greater enthusiasm, considering our long years of suffering and the harsh conditions that plague our people and our children, who are deprived of living a normal life free from war, free from tragedy, free from the torment of exile, free from homelessness and daily anguish.

So let the voices of those who are for the olive branch, peaceful coexistence and international entente be raised. Let all hands join in defence of a historic – possibly unique – opportunity to put an end to a tragedy that has lingered for too long and cost thousands of lives and the destruction of hundreds of villages and cities.

If we offer the olive branch of peace, it is because that branch sprouts in our hearts from the tree of our homeland, the tree of freedom.

I have come to you in the name of my people, offering my hand so that we can make real peace, peace based on justice. On that basis I ask the leaders of Israel to come here, under the sponsorship of the United Nations, so that together we can forge that peace. I say to them, as I say to you, that our people, who seek dignity, freedom and peace for themselves and security for their State, want the same thing for all the States and parties involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Here, I would address myself specifically to the Israeli people in all their parties and forces, and especially to the forces among them which advocate democracy and peace. I say to them: Come, cast away fear and intimidation, Let us make peace. Leave behind the spectre of the wars that have raged continuously over the past 40 years. Set aside all threats of wars to come, whose fuel could only be the bodies of our children and yours. Come, let us make peace. Let us make the peace of the bold, of the courageous, far from the arrogance of power and the weapons of destruction, far from occupation and oppression and humiliation and murder and torture.

"Say: 0 People of the Book! Come

To common terms …": (The-Holy Koran, 111:64) so that we can build peace in the land of peace, the land of Palestine.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men"(The Holy Bible, Luke 2:14)

"0 Lord, Thou art the peace, and the peace is of You, and the peace shall return unto You. Let us live, 0 Lord, in peace and enter Heaven, Thy house, the house of peace." (The Torah)

Finally, I say to our people:

"The dawn approaches. Victory is at hand. I see the homeland in your holy stones. I see the flag of our independent Palestine fluttering over the hills of our beloved homeland."

Thank you. Peace be upon you, and God's mercy and His blessings.

Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, was escorted from the Assembly Hall.

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Mar 14th, 2023
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