Abbas UN speech: Annotated extracts
- 23 September 2011
- From the section Middle East
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has submitted his bid to the United Nations for recognition of a Palestinian state and made a speech, to rapturous applause, to the General Assembly. The BBC's diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus interprets the key phrases in his address.
MAHMOUD ABBAS: "The Question of Palestine is intricately linked with the United Nations via the resolutions adopted by its various organs and agencies and via the essential and lauded role of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East - UNRWA - which embodies the international responsibility towards the plight of Palestine refugees, who are the victims of al-Nakba [Catastrophe] that occurred in 1948.
"We aspire for and seek a greater and more effective role for the United Nations in working to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in our region that ensures the inalienable, legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people as defined by the resolutions of international legitimacy of the United Nations."
JONATHAN MARCUS: From the outset, he makes clear that this UN route, although forced upon the Palestinians, in their view by lack of progress elsewhere, is nonetheless an entirely natural and legitimate step, as the UN has been intimately involved in the Palestine dossier from the outset.
MAHMOUD ABBAS: "A year ago, at this same time, distinguished leaders in this hall addressed the stalled peace efforts in our region. Everyone had high hopes for a new round of final status negotiations, which had begun in early September in Washington under the direct auspices of President Barack Obama and with participation of the Quartet, and with Egyptian and Jordanian participation, to reach a peace agreement within one year.
"We entered those negotiations with open hearts and attentive ears and sincere intentions, and we were ready with our documents, papers and proposals. But the negotiations broke down just weeks after their launch."
JONATHAN MARCUS: This paragraph underlines the Palestinians' view that it is the failures of the so-called peace process that has brought them to this moment.
MAHMOUD ABBAS: "Settlement activities embody the core of the policy of colonial military occupation of the land of the Palestinian people and all of the brutality of aggression and racial discrimination against our people that this policy entails.
"This policy, which constitutes a breach of international humanitarian law and United Nations resolutions, is the primary cause for the failure of the peace process, the collapse of dozens of opportunities, and the burial of the great hopes that arose from the signing of the Declaration of Principles in 1993 between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel to achieve a just peace that would begin a new era for our region."
JONATHAN MARCUS: This is the core of Mr Abbas' case - Israel is busy creating new facts on the ground, making the establishment of a Palestinian state more difficult as the years go by.
MAHMOUD ABBAS: "Yet, because we believe in peace and because of our conviction in international legitimacy, and because we had the courage to make difficult decisions for our people, and in the absence of absolute justice, we decided to adopt the path of relative justice - justice that is possible and could correct part of the grave historical injustice committed against our people.
"Thus, we agreed to establish the State of Palestine on only 22% of the territory of historical Palestine - on all the Palestinian Territory occupied by Israel in 1967."
JONATHAN MARCUS: In Mr Abbas' view, Palestinians have already made and have been prepared to make difficult concessions. Their aspirations, he says, are limited in territorial terms to the Palestinian areas held by Egypt and Jordan since 1948 and captured by Israel in the 1967 War.
MAHMOUD ABBAS: "The goal of the Palestinian people is the realisation of their inalienable national rights in their independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, on all the land of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, which Israel occupied in the June 1967 war, in conformity with the resolutions of international legitimacy and with the achievement of a just and agreed upon solution to the Palestine refugee issue in accordance with Resolution 194, as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative which presented the consensus Arab vision to resolve the core the Arab-Israeli conflict and to achieve a just and comprehensive peace."
JONATHAN MARCUS: Mr Abbas makes no mention here of the sorts of land swaps or territorial adjustments that Israel has insisted upon, and which have been backed by successive US presidents, most recently Barack Obama.
MAHMOUD ABBAS: "The PLO and the Palestinian people adhere to the renouncement of violence and rejection and condemning of terrorism in all its forms, especially State terrorism, and adhere to all agreements signed between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel."
JONATHAN MARCUS: Whatever happens, the Palestinians renounce violence; seeking recognition is the next stage in an essentially political struggle.
MAHMOUD ABBAS: "I am here to say on behalf of the Palestinian people and the Palestine Liberation Organization: We extend our hands to the Israeli government and the Israeli people for peacemaking. I say to them: Let us urgently build together a future for our children where they can enjoy freedom, security and prosperity.
"Let us build the bridges of dialogue instead of checkpoints and walls of separation, and build cooperative relations based on parity and equity between two neighbouring States - Palestine and Israel - instead of policies of occupation, settlement, war and eliminating the other."
JONATHAN MARCUS: This is by far the best turn of phrase in the speech and certainly the best sound-bite: "bridges of dialogue" versus "checkpoints and walls of separation".
The speech, which was strong on setting out the Palestinians' historic case and clearly played well among his supporters, included a strongly-worded appeal for dialogue with Israel in skilfully-worded terms.