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Statement before the United Nations Security Council 06 Jan. 2009 [Arabic]

Statement by H.E. Mr. Mahmoud Abbas

Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization

President of the Palestinian Authority before the United Nations Security Council

New York,

06 January 2009

(Original: Arabic)

I have come bearing a message from a wounded people who are being subjected to a new tragedy of destruction, killing, siege, unremitting violence and lack of respect for the most basic human rights.

The massacre today in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) school at the Jabaliya refugee camp is new proof of the heinous crimes being committed against our people. I come to bear witness to the suffering of the people of Gaza. Children fall before their mothers. Roofs fall on entire families. The cries of the innocents, in their agony, rise. Death and destruction spread throughout every village and every camp.

Gaza today is witnessing a new Palestinian catastrophe. It has been over 60 years since our first catastrophe. The Israeli machine of destruction continues to kill and to commit the most heinous of crimes. It continues to do so despite unprecedented international unanimity in calling for an end to this massacre of innocent civilians, who do not deserve such brutality or such blind aggression.

Before laying out the details of possible solutions to the impasse we face, I call on this Security Council to take the necessary first step to save our people in Gaza. This Council must adopt a resolution calling for an immediate and full cessation of Israeli aggression. The cannons must fall silent so that the voice of dialogue can be heard and a political settlement to this major crisis and this human tragedy can be found. Any delay in ending the fighting and killing will only deepen the tragedy that we have all lived in the past few days. Any delay will make all our people, particularly the young, feel that placing hope in peace and relying on international legitimacy and commitment to international law are all pipe dreams that will never bear fruit and that the present and future offer nothing but more extremism, violence and destructive wars.

The choice before the members of the Security Council is clear-cut. Any message they choose to send to the peoples of our region — indeed, to all peoples of the world — calling for an end to the aggression will reiterate and underscore the fact that the United Nations will not ignore the tragedy of our people today or allow the Middle East to fall victim to a cycle of bloodshed, extremism, violence and new hatred.

The widows and mothers of Gaza who walk with their children in the streets; the thousands of wounded in hospitals; the corpses under the roofs of mosques, schools and homes; the mothers and fathers who cannot bury their children under the hail of bombs and fire; the Arab and Islamic peoples and, indeed, public opinion around the world will accept nothing less than an urgent intervention by the Security Council to halt the firing and stop the aggressor.

That is my message, which I believe cannot be subject to any compromise, procrastination or delay. There is an urgent need to lay a firm foundation upon which we can build towards a comprehensive political settlement of this destructive and bloody conflict. Let me state that a commitment to respect any agreement we may reach is necessary to avoid the tragedy being repeated. It means providing effective and sufficient protection for all our people and establishing an international force that will help them regain security and peace, contribute to ending the unjust siege that has suffocated Gaza for so long, assist us in opening all border crossings — particularly those between the Gaza Strip and Israel and at Rafah between the Gaza Strip and Egypt — in accordance with international agreements and ensure a comprehensive, reciprocal and permanent ceasefire.

In that regard, I would like to express my appreciation and support for the plan set in motion today by Presidents Mubarak of Egypt and Sarkozy of France.

Our people in the West Bank, in Al-Quds Al-Sharif and in the Gaza Strip have suffered enough under Israeli occupation, the settlements, the separation wall, the hundreds of checkpoints and the detention of over 11,000 of our people in Israeli jails. It is enough. All those present are aware of that and of our belief in international legitimacy. We seek and defend international legitimacy to confront the policy of occupation and its measures, to put an end to Israel’s stranglehold on our future and to ensure our right to independence and self-determination.

That is why we seek above all the application of international law and agreements with regard to the borders and crossing points. We do not want anyone to feel threatened. No one’s security should be threatened and we want no one to threaten our security. I do not believe that, in the context of the settlement we seek, the Council can condone the ongoing unjust siege and blockade imposed on our people in Gaza, where all elements of a normal life are negated. How can a people — any people — remain deprived of food, medicine, electricity, water and all necessities for development, construction, movement and travel?

A lasting end to the siege is non-negotiable. It is essential if peace is to prevail. Let me stress that when the aggression against our people stops, we shall relentlessly continue to work to overcome our internal Palestinian crisis by restoring national unity, based on the resolutions adopted by the Council of the League of Arab States, which provide for a national unity Government that would oversee simultaneous legislative and presidential elections. The only way to restore unity is through dialogue.

In that regard, we would like to express our sincere appreciation for the efforts being made by President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak of sisterly Egypt to encourage national reconciliation and unity and for the unanimous resolutions of the League of Arab States on the need to pursue efforts in that regard.

I should like to emphasize that we will accept no formula that would impose the status quo through separation and allow steadfast Gaza to remain an entity separate from the body of Palestine. The Gaza Strip has undergone all the stages of our national struggle and has fought hard to maintain our Palestinian national unity. It was the birthplace of our national liberation movement and has held high the flame of independence and freedom. How can we accept a fate for Gaza other than that of being an integral and proud part of a united Palestinian nation — one independent Palestinian State, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital?

I should like, Sir, to thank you, your friendly country and the entire international community for their sincere messages of peace, calling for an immediate end to the aggression. I would like to pay tribute to the important role played by the agencies of the United Nations, particularly UNRWA, to save our people and to ensure that they receive the basic essentials of life. I appeal to all to provide the necessary assistance to those agencies, to all civil and international organizations that are saving the lives of our wounded people and to those seeking to convey an accurate picture of the new catastrophe to the world. I should like to thank all Arab and friendly countries that were quick to provide humanitarian and medical assistance. Let me express the hope that such support will grow to contain the huge consequences of the tragedy we are facing. I should like to express my appreciation for the efforts being made by Egypt and Jordan to ensure that this assistance reaches its targets.

The experiences of the past few decades have proved that military aggression, however massive, cannot be a viable and lasting solution to conflict. The continued suffering of our people through killing and destruction will not bring our people to its knees. That people, like any other, will accept nothing less than freedom and justice. We shall remain committed to the path of just peace, committed to continuing the political process and true to the commitments we have undertaken, based on the balanced solution set out in the Arab Peace Initiative and under international law and resolutions of international legitimacy.

We know that some Powers wish to abort the two-State solution. They wish to bury the chances for peace under the rubble of the war against steadfast Gaza. We put our trust in this Council’s role and in its determination to prevent such nefarious circles from harming the interests of our peoples.

The resolution to be adopted by the Security Council on the cessation of aggression and war against Gaza must reiterate the need for the political process to continue under genuine and effective international supervision in order to ensure that an independent Palestinian State will be created within the 1967 borders and with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital; that a just and agreed solution will be found to the issue of Palestinian refugees in accordance with General Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 1948; and that all detainees and prisoners will be released.

Like all the rest of the Palestinian people everywhere, the people of Gaza are a people of peace. They have fought for peace in the past and will continue to fight for peace in the future. Let us give them the peace that they deserve today and put an end to the genocide and destruction. Let us not allow the killing of one more Palestinian child. Let us not allow one more Palestinian mother to cry for her children. We must not allow it. We must put an end to the massacre of my people. Let my people live and let my people be free.