viernes, 23 de septiembre de 2011

Statement by H.E. Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu Prime Minister of the State of Israel 23 September 2011

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel has extended its hand in peace from the moment it was 
established 63 years ago.  On  behalf of Israel and the Jewish people, I extend that 
hand again today. I extend it to the people of Egypt and Jordan, with renewed 
friendship for neighbors with whom we have made peace. I extend it to the people of 
Turkey, with respect and good will. I extend it to the people of Libya and Tunisia, 
with admiration for those trying to build a democratic future. I extend it to the other 
peoples of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, with whom we want to forge a 
new beginning. I extend it to the people of Syria, Lebanon and Iran, with awe at the 
courage of those fighting brutal repression.  
But most especially, I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a 
just and lasting peace. 
Ladies and gentlemen, in Israel our hope for peace never wanes. Our scientists, 
doctors, innovator apply their genius to improve the world of tomorrow. Our artists, 
our writers, enrich the heritage of humanity. Now, I know that this is not exactly the 
image of Israel that is often portrayed in this hall. After all, it was here in 1975 that 
the age-old yearning of my people to restore our national life in our ancient biblical 
homeland -- it was then that this was branded shamefully, as racism. And it was here 
in 1980, right here, that the historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt wasn't 
praised; it was denounced! And it's here, year after year that Israel is unjustly singled 
out for condemnation. It's singled out for condemnation more often than all the 
nations of the world combined. Twenty-one out of the 27 General Assembly 
resolutions condemn Israel -- the one true democracy in the Middle East.  
Well, this is an unfortunate part of the U.N. institution. It's the  -- the theater of the 
absurd. It doesn't only cast Israel as the villain; it often casts real villains in leading 
roles:  Gadhafi's Libya chaired the U.N. Commission on Human Rights; Saddam's 
Iraq headed the U.N. Committee on Disarmament.   You might say: That's the past. 
Well, here's what's happening now -- right now, today,  Hezbollah-controlled 
Lebanon now presides over the U.N. Security Council. This means, in effect, that a 
terror organization presides over the body entrusted with guaranteeing the world's 
You couldn't make this thing up.  
So here in the U.N., automatic majorities can decide anything. They can decide that 
the sun sets in the west or rises in the  west. I think the first  has already been preordained. But they can also decide -- they have decided -- that the Western Wall in 
Jerusalem, Judaism's holiest place, is occupied Palestinian territory.  2 
And yet even here in the General Assembly, the truth can sometimes break through. 
In 1984 when I was appointed Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, I visited the 
great rabbi of Lubavich. He said to me -- and ladies and gentlemen, I don't want any 
of you to be offended because from personal experience of serving here, I know there 
are many honorable men and women, many capable and decent people, serving their 
nations here -- But here's what the rebbe said to me. He said to me, you'll be serving 
in a house of many lies. And then he said, remember that even in the darkest place, 
the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.  
Today I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that 
for too long has been a place of darkness for my country. So as Israel's prime minister, 
I didn't come here to win applause. I came here to speak the truth.   The truth is -- the 
truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth is that I want peace. The truth is that in the 
Middle East at all times, but especially during these turbulent days, peace must be 
anchored in security. The truth is that we cannot achieve peace through U.N. 
resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that 
so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants peace 
with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. And the truth 
is you shouldn't let that happen.  
Ladies and gentlemen, when I first came  here 27 years ago, the world was divided 
between East and West.  Since then the Cold War ended, great civilizations have risen 
from centuries of slumber, hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty, 
countless more are poised to follow, and the remarkable thing is that so far this 
monumental historic shift has largely occurred peacefully. Yet a malignancy is now 
growing between East and West that threatens the peace of all. It seeks not to liberate, 
but to enslave, not to build, but to destroy.  
That malignancy is militant Islam. It cloaks itself in the mantle of a great faith, yet it 
murders Jews, Christians and Muslims alike with unforgiving impartiality. On 
September 11
 it killed thousands of Americans, and it left the twin towers in 
smoldering ruins. Last night I laid a wreath on the 9/11 memorial. It was deeply 
moving.  But as I was going there, one thing echoed in my mind: the outrageous 
words of the president of Iran on this podium yesterday. He implied that 9/11 was an 
American conspiracy. Some of you left this hall. All of you should have.  
Since 9/11, militant Islamists slaughtered countless other innocents -- in London and 
Madrid, in Baghdad and Mumbai, in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, in every part of Israel. I 
believe that the greatest danger facing our world is that this fanaticism will arm itself 
with nuclear weapons. And this is precisely what Iran is trying to do.  
Can you imagine that man who ranted here yesterday -- can you imagine him armed 
with nuclear weapons? The international community must stop Iran before it's too late. 3 
That would be a tragedy. Millions of Arabs have taken to the streets to replace 
tyranny with liberty, and no one would benefit more than Israel if those committed to 
freedom and peace would prevail. 
This is my fervent hope. But as the prime minister of Israel, I cannot risk the future of 
the Jewish state on wishful thinking. Leaders must see reality as it is, not as it ought to 
be.  We must do our best to shape the future, but we cannot wish away the dangers of 
the present.  
And the world around Israelis definitely becoming more dangerous. Militant Islam 
has already taken over Lebanon and Gaza. It's determined to tear apart the peace 
treaties between Israel and Egypt and between Israel and Jordan. It's poisoned many 
Arab minds against Jews and Israel, against America and the West. It opposes not the 
policies of Israel but the existence of Israel.  
Now, some argue that the spread of militant Islam, especially in these turbulent times 
-- if you want to slow it down, they argue, Israel must hurry to make concessions, to 
make territorial compromises. And this theory sounds simple. Basically it goes like 
this: Leave the territory, and peace will  be advanced. The moderates will best 
rengthened, the radicals will be kept at bay. And don't worry about the pesky details 
of how Israel will actually defend itself; international troops will do the job.  
These people say to me constantly: Just make a sweeping offer, and everything will 
work out. You know, there's only one problem with that theory. We've tried it and it 
hasn't worked.  In 2000 Israel made a sweeping peace offer that met virtually all of 
the Palestinian demands. Arafat rejected it. The Palestinians then launched a terror 
attack that claimed a thousand Israeli lives.  
Prime Minister Olmert afterwards made an even more sweeping offer, in 2008. 
President Abbas didn't even respond to it.  
But Israel did more than just make sweeping offers. We actually left territory. We 
withdrew from Lebanon in2000 and from every square inch of Gaza in 2005. That 
didn't calm the Islamic storm, the militant  Islamic storm that threatens us. It only 
brought the storm closer and made it stronger.  
Hezbollah and Hamas fired thousands of rockets against  our cities from the very 
territories we vacated.  See, when Israel left Lebanon and Gaza, the moderates didn't 
defeat the radicals, the moderates were devoured by the radicals. And I regret to say 
that international troops like UNIFIL in Lebanon and EUBAM in Gaza didn't stopthe 
radicals from attacking Israel.  4 
We left Gaza hoping for peace.  
We didn't freeze the settlements in Gaza, we uprooted them. We did exactly what the 
theory says: Get out, go back to the 1967 borders, dismantle the settlements.  
And I don't think people remember how far  we went to achieve this. We uprooted 
thousands of people from their homes. We pulled children out of -- out of their 
schools and their kindergartens. We bulldozed synagogues. We even -- we even 
moved loved ones from their graves. And then, having done all that, we gave the keys 
of Gaza to President Abbas.  
Now the theory says it should all work out, and President Abbas and the Palestinian 
Authority now could build a peaceful state in Gaza. You can remember that the entire 
world applauded.  They applauded our withdrawal as an act of great statesmanship. It 
was a bold act of peace.  
But ladies and gentlemen, we didn't get peace. We got war. We got Iran, which 
through its proxy Hamas promptly kicked out the Palestinian Authority. The 
Palestinian Authority collapsed in a day -- in one day.  
President Abbas just said on this podium that the Palestinians are armed only with 
their hopes and dreams.  Yeah, hopes, dreams and 10,000 missiles and Grad rockets 
supplied by Iran, not to mention the river of lethal weapons now flowing into Gaza 
from the Sinai, from Libya, and from elsewhere.  
Thousands of missiles have already rained down on our cities. So you might 
understand that, given all this, Israelis rightly ask: What's to prevent this from 
happening again in the West Bank? See, most of our major cities in the south of the 
country are within a few dozen kilometers from Gaza. But in the center of the country, 
opposite the West Bank, our cities are a  few hundred meters or at most a few 
kilometers away from the edge of the West Bank.  
So I want to ask you. Would any of you -- would any of you bring danger so close to 
your cities, to your families? Would you act so recklessly with the lives of your 
citizens? Israelis prepared to have a Palestinian state in the West Bank, but we're not 
prepared to have another Gaza there. And that's why we need to have real security 
arrangements, which the Palestinians simply refuse to negotiate with us.  
Israelis remember the bitter lessons of Gaza. Many of Israel's critics ignore them. 
They irresponsibly advise Israel to go down this same perilous path again. Your read 
what these people say and it's as if nothing happened -- just repeating the same advice, 
the same formulas as though none of this happened.  5 
And these critics continue to press Israel to make far-reaching concessions without 
first assuring Israel's security. They praise those who unwittingly feed the insatiable 
crocodile of militant Islam as bold statesmen. They cast as enemies of peace those of 
us who insist that we must first erect a sturdy barrier to keep the crocodile out, or at 
the very least jam an iron bar between its gaping jaws.  
So in the face of the labels and the libels, Israel must heed better advice. Better a bad 
press than a good eulogy, and better still would be a fair press whose sense of history 
extends beyond breakfast, and which recognizes Israel's legitimate security concerns.  
I believe that in serious peace negotiations, these needs and concerns can be properly 
addressed, but they will not be addressed without negotiations. And the needs are 
many, because Israel is such a tiny country. Without Judea and Samaria, the West 
Bank, Israel is all of 9 miles wide.  
I want to put it for you in perspective, because you're all in the city. That's about twothirds the length of Manhattan. It's the distance between Battery Park and Columbia 
University.  And don't forget that the people who live in Brooklyn and New Jersey are 
considerably nicer than some of Israel's neighbors.  
So how do you -- how do you protect such a tiny country, surrounded by people 
sworn to its destruction and armed to the teeth by Iran? Obviously you can't defend it 
from within that narrow space alone. Israel needs greater strategic depth, and that's 
exactly why Security Council  Resolution 242 didn't require  Israel to leave all the 
territories it captured in the Six-Day War. It talked about withdrawal from territories, 
to secure and defensible boundaries. And to defend itself, Israel must therefore 
maintain a long-term Israeli military presence in critical strategic areas in the West 
I explained this to President Abbas. He answered that if a Palestinian state was to be a 
sovereign country, it could never accept  such arrangements. Why not? America has 
had troops in Japan, Germany and South Korea for more than a half a century. Britain 
has had an an air base in Cyprus. France  has forces in three independent African 
nations. None of these states claim that they're not sovereign countries.  
And there are many other vital security issues that also must be addressed. Take the 
issue of airspace.  Again, Israel's small  dimensions create huge security problems. 
America can be crossed by jet airplane in six hours. To fly across Israel, it takes three 
minutes. So is Israel's tiny airspace to be chopped in half and given to a Palestinian 
state not at peace with Israel?  
Our major international airport is a few  kilometers away from the West Bank. 
Without peace, will our planes become targets for antiaircraft missiles placed in the 
adjacent Palestinian state? And how will we stop the smuggling into the West Bank? 6 
I bring up these problems because they're not theoretical problems. They're very real. 
And for Israelis, they're life-and- death matters. All these potential cracks in Israel's 
security have to be sealed in a peace agreement before a Palestinian state is declared, 
not afterwards, because if  you leave it afterwards, they won't be sealed. And these 
problems will explode in our face and explode the peace.  
The Palestinians should first make peace with Israel and then get their state. But I also 
want to tell you this. After such a peace agreement is signed, Israel will not be the last 
country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations. We 
will be the first.  
And there's one more thing. Hamas has been violating international law by holding 
our soldier Gilad Shalit captive for five years.  
They haven't given even one Red Cross visit. He's held in a dungeon, in darkness, 
against all international norms. Gilad Shalit is the son of Aviva and Noam Shalit. He 
is the grandson of Zvi Shalit, who escaped the Holocaust by coming to the -- in the 
1930s as a boy to the land of Israel. Gilad Shalit is the son of every Israeli family. 
Every nation represented here should demand his immediate release.  If you want to 
pass a resolution about the Middle East today, that's the resolution you should pass.  
Ladies and gentlemen, last year in Israel in Bar-Ilan University, this year in the 
Knesset and in the U.S. Congress, I laid out my vision for peace in which a 
demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state. Yes, the Jewish state. After 
all, this is the body that  recognized the Jewish state  64 years ago. Now, don't you 
think it's about time that Palestinians did the same?  
The Jewish state of Israel will always protect the rights of all its minorities, including 
the more than 1million Arab citizens of Israel. I wish I could say the same thing about 
a future Palestinian state, for as Palestinian officials made clear the other day-- in fact, 
I think they made it right here in New York -- they said the Palestinian state won't 
allow any Jews in it. They'll be Jew-free -- Judenrein. That's ethnic cleansing. There 
are laws today in Ramallah that make the selling of land to Jews punishable by death. 
That's racism. And you know which laws this evokes.  
Israel has no intention whatsoever to change the democratic character of our state. We 
just don't want the Palestinians to try to change the Jewish character of our state.  We 
want to give up -- we want them to give up the fantasy of flooding Israel with millions 
of Palestinians.  7 
President Abbas just stood here, and he said that the core of the Israeli-Palestinian 
conflict is the settlements. Well, that's odd. Our conflict has been raging for -- was 
raging for nearly half a century before there was a single Israeli settlement in the West 
Bank. So if what President Abbas is saying was true, then the -- I guess that the 
settlements he's talking about are Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa, Be'er Sheva.  Maybe that's 
what he meant the other day when he said that Israel has been occupying Palestinian 
land for 63 years. He didn't say from 1967; he said from1948. I hope somebody will 
bother to ask him this question because it illustrates a simple truth: The core of the 
conflict is not the settlements.  The settlements are a result of the conflict..  
The settlements have to be --it's an issue that has to be addressed and resolved in the 
course of negotiations. But the core of the conflict has always been and unfortunately 
remains the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state in any border.  
I think it's time that the Palestinian leadership recognizes what every serious 
international leader has recognized, from Lord Balfour and Lloyd George in 1917, to 
President Truman in1948, to President Obama just two days ago right here: Israel is 
the Jewish state.  
President Abbas, stop walking around this  issue. Recognize the Jewish state, and 
make peace with us. In such a genuine peace, Israel is prepared to make painful 
compromises. We believe that the Palestinians should be neither the citizens of Israel 
nor its subjects. They should live in a free state of their own. But they should be ready, 
like us, for compromise. And we will know that they're ready for compromise and for 
peace when they start taking Israel's security requirements seriously and when they 
stop denying our historical connection to our ancient homeland.  
I often hear them accuse Israel of Judaizing Jerusalem. That's like accusing America 
of Americanizing Washington, or the British of Anglicizing London. You know why 
we're called "Jews"? Because we come from Judea.  
In my office in Jerusalem, there's a -- there's an ancient seal. It's a signet ring of a 
Jewish official from the time of the Bible. The seal was found  right next to the 
Western Wall, and it dates back 2,700 years, to the time of King Hezekiah. Now, 
there's a name of the Jewish official inscribed on the ring in Hebrew. His name was 
Netanyahu. That's my last name. My first name, Benjamin, dates back a thousand 
years earlier to Benjamin -- Binyamin -- the son of Jacob, who was also known as 
Israel. Jacob and his 12 sons roamed these same hills of Judea and Samaria 4,000 
years ago, and there's been a continuous Jewish presence in the land ever since.  
And for those Jews who were exiled from our land, they never stopped dreaming of 
coming back: Jews in Spain, on the eve of  their expulsion; Jews in the Ukraine, 
fleeing the pogroms; Jews fighting the Warsaw Ghetto, as the Nazis were circling 
around it.  They never stopped praying, they never stopped yearning. They whispered: 
Next year in Jerusalem. Next year in the promised land.  8 
As the prime minister of Israel, I speak for a hundred generations of Jews who were 
dispersed throughout the lands, who suffered every evil under the Sun, but who never 
gave up hope of restoring their national life in the one and only Jewish state.  
Ladies and gentlemen, I continue to hope that President Abbas will be my partner in 
peace. I've worked hard to advance that peace. The day I came into office, I called for 
direct negotiations without preconditions. President Abbas didn't respond. I outlined a 
vision of peace of two states for two peoples. He still didn't respond. I removed 
hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints, to ease freedom of movement in the 
Palestinian areas; this facilitated a fantastic growth in the Palestinian economy. But 
again -- no response. I took the unprecedented step of freezing new buildings in the 
settlements for 10 months. No prime minister did that before, ever. Once again -- you 
applaud, but there was no response. No response.  
In the last few weeks, American officials have put forward ideas to restart peace talks. 
There were things in those ideas about borders that I didn't like. There were things 
thereabout the Jewish state that I'm sure the Palestinians didn't like.  
But with all my reservations, I was willing to move forward on these American ideas.  
President Abbas, why don't you join me?  We have to stop negotiating about the 
negotiations. Let's just get on with it. Let's negotiate peace.  
I spent years defending Israel on the battlefield. I spent decades defending Israel in 
the court of public opinion. President Abbas, you've dedicated your life to advancing 
the Palestinian cause. Must this conflict continue for generations, or will we be able 
our children and our grandchildren to speak in years ahead of how we found a way to 
end it? That's what we should aim for, and that's what I believe we can achieve.  
In two and a half years, we met in Jerusalem only once, even though my door has 
always been open to you. If you wish, I'll come to Ramallah. Actually, I have a better 
suggestion. We've both just flown thousands of miles to New York. Now we're in the 
same city. We're in the same building. So let's meet here today in the United Nations. 
Who's there to stop us? What is there to stop us? If we genuinely want peace, what is 
there to stop us from meeting today and beginning peace negotiations?  
And I suggest we talk openly and honestly. Let's listen to one another. Let's do as we 
say in the Middle East: Let's talk "doogri". That means straightforward. I'll tell you 
my needs and concerns. You'll tell me yours. And with God's help, we'll find the 
common ground of peace.  
There's an old Arab saying that you cannot applaud with one hand. Well, the same is 
true of peace. I cannot make peace alone. I cannot make peace without you. President 
Abbas, I extend my hand -- the hand of Israel -- in peace. I hope that you will grasp 9 
that hand. We are both the sons of Abraham. My people call him Avraham. Your 
people call him Ibrahim. We share the same patriarch. We dwell in the same land. Our 
destinies are intertwined. Let us realize the vision of Isaiah --(Isaiah 9:1in Hebrew) -- 
"The people who walk in darkness will see a great light." Let that light be the light of 

Hamas to Abbas: Don't beg for a state

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh on Friday urged President Mahmoud Abbas not to "beg" for a Palestinian state at the United Nations.

Speaking to reporters after morning prayers in Gaza City, Haniyeh said Abbas' bid for full membership of the United Nations "harms the dignity of the Palestinian people.

"We want a state but it should have full sovereignty and not at the expense of Palestinian rights."

He added: "We support the principle of statehood but liberation comes first, we do not want to beg for a state."

Abbas says he will submit an application for full UN membership to the Security Council after addressing the General Assembly on Friday. Washington has vowed to veto the bid.

If the resolution fails, Palestinians should focus on implementing national unity and using the "Arab spring" to benefit the Palestinian cause, Haniyeh said.

"We have reservations about going to the UN because we believe it's under American control and the political orientation for the UN is useless," he added.

"We tell the president that you should come back to the Palestinian people in order to launch strategic and national dialogue and not to run behind the mirage."

"The Palestinian people have been fighting and resisting and struggling for more than 60 years, offering up thousands of martyrs, thousands of prisoners ... for the sake of liberating the land," he added.

"The state will not come about through this bargaining and this political blackmail," he said.

Abbas says he is turning to the United Nations for statehood recognition because almost two decades of on-off peace talks with Israel have failed to produce a lasting treaty.

Full text: Abbas' address to the General Assembly

A full transcript of President Abbas' address to the 66th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Sept. 23, as released by the Palestinian Authority news agency. 

Mr. President of the General Assembly of the United Nations,

Mr. Secretary-General of the United Nations,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I wish to extend my congratulations to H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser on his assumption of the Presidency of the Assembly for this session, and wish him all success.

I reaffirm today my sincere congratulations, on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian people, to the government and people of South Sudan for its deserved admission as a full member of the United Nations, wishing them progress and prosperity.

I also congratulate the Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, on his election for a new term at the helm of the United Nations. This renewal of confidence reflects the world’s appreciation for his efforts, which have strengthened the role of the United Nations.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Question 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.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

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.

After this, we did not give up and did not cease our efforts for initiatives and contacts. Over the past year we did not leave a door to be knocked or channel to be tested or path to be taken and we did not ignore any formal or informal party of influence and stature to be addressed. We positively considered the various ideas and proposals and initiatives presented from many countries and parties. But all of these sincere efforts and endeavors undertaken by international parties were repeatedly wrecked by the positions of the Israeli government, which quickly dashed the hopes raised by the launch of negotiations last September.

The core issue here is that the Israeli government refuses to commit to terms of reference for the negotiations that are based on international law and United Nations resolutions, and that it frantically continues to intensify building of settlements on the territory of the State of Palestine.

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.

The reports of United Nations missions as well as by several Israeli institutions and civil societies convey a horrific picture about the size of the settlement campaign, which the Israeli government does not hesitate to boast about and which it continues to execute through the systematic confiscation of the Palestinian lands and the construction of thousands of new settlement units in various areas of the West Bank, particularly in East Jerusalem, and accelerated construction of the annexation Wall that is eating up large tracts of our land, dividing it into separate and isolated islands and cantons, destroying family life and communities and the livelihoods of tens of thousands of families. The occupying Power also continues to refuse permits for our people to build in Occupied East Jerusalem, at the same time that it intensifies its decades-long campaign of demolition and confiscation of homes, displacing Palestinian owners and residents under a multi-pronged policy of ethnic cleansing aimed at pushing them away from their ancestral homeland. In addition, orders have been issued to deport elected representatives from the city of Jerusalem. The occupying Power also continues to undertake excavations that threaten our holy places, and its military checkpoints prevent our citizens from getting access to their mosques and churches, and it continues to besiege the Holy City with a ring of settlements imposed to separate the Holy City from the rest of the Palestinian cities.

The occupation is racing against time to redraw the borders on our land according to what it wants and to impose a fait accompli on the ground that changes the realities and that is undermining the realistic potential for the existence of the State of Palestine.

At the same time, the occupying Power continues to impose its blockade on the Gaza Strip and to target Palestinian civilians by assassinations, air strikes and artillery shelling, persisting with its war of aggression of three years ago on Gaza, which resulted in massive destruction of homes, schools, hospitals, and mosques, and the thousands of martyrs and wounded.

The occupying Power also continues its incursions in areas of the Palestinian National Authority through raids, arrests and killings at the checkpoints. In recent years, the criminal actions of armed settler militias, who enjoy the special protection of the occupation army, has intensified with the perpetration of frequent attacks against our people, targeting their homes, schools, universities, mosques, fields, crops and trees. Despite our repeated warnings, the occupying Power has not acted to curb these attacks and we hold them fully responsible for the crimes of the settlers.

These are just a few examples of the policy of the Israeli colonial settlement occupation, and this policy is responsible for the continued failure of the successive international attempts to salvage the peace process.

This policy will destroy the chances of achieving a two-State solution upon which there is an international consensus, and here I caution aloud: This settlement policy threatens to also undermine the structure of the Palestinian National Authority and even end its existence.

In addition, we now face the imposition new conditions not previously raised, conditions that will transform the raging conflict in our inflamed region into a religious conflict and a threat to the future of a million and a half Christian and Muslim Palestinians, citizens of Israel, a matter which we reject and which is impossible for us to accept being dragged into.

All of these actions taken by Israel in our country are unilateral actions and are not based on any earlier agreements. Indeed, what we witness is a selective application of the agreements aimed at perpetuating the occupation. Israel reoccupied the cities of the West Bank by a unilateral action, and reestablished the civil and military occupation by a unilateral action, and it is the one that determines whether or not a Palestinian citizen has the right to reside in any part of the Palestinian Territory. And it is confiscating our land and our water and obstructing our movement as well as the movement of goods. And it is the one obstructing our whole destiny. All of this is unilateral.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

In 1974, our deceased leader Yasser Arafat came to this hall and assured the Members of the General Assembly of our affirmative pursuit for peace, urging the United Nations to realize the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people, stating: “Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand”.

In 1988, President Arafat again addressed the General Assembly, which convened in Geneva to hear him, where he submitted the Palestinian peace program adopted by the Palestine National Council at its session held that year in Algeria.

When we adopted this program, we were taking a painful and very difficult step for all of us, especially those, including myself, who were forced to leave their homes and their towns and villages, carrying only some of our belongings and our grief and our memories and the keys of our homes to the camps of exile and the Diaspora in the 1948 Al-Nakba, one of the worst operations of uprooting, destruction and removal of a vibrant and cohesive society that had been contributing in a pioneering and leading way in the cultural, educational and economic renaissance of the Arab Middle East.

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.

We, by taking that historic step, which was welcomed by the States of the world, made a major concession in order to achieve a historic compromise that would allow peace to be made in the land of peace.

In the years that followed - from the Madrid Conference and the Washington negotiations leading to the Oslo agreement, which was signed 18 years ago in the garden of the White House and was linked with the letters of mutual recognition between the PLO and Israel, we persevered and dealt positively and responsibly with all efforts aimed at the achievement of a lasting peace agreement. Yet, as we said earlier, every initiative and every conference and every new round of negotiations and every movement was shattered on the rock of the Israeli settlement expansion project.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I confirm, on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, which will remain so until the end of the conflict in all its aspects and until the resolution of all final status issues, the following:

1. The goal of the Palestinian people is the realization 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. To this we adhere and this is what we are working to achieve. Achieving this desired peace also requires the release of political prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons without delay.

2. 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.

3. We adhere to the option of negotiating a lasting solution to the conflict in accordance with resolutions of international legitimacy. Here, I declare that the Palestine Liberation Organization is ready to return immediately to the negotiating table on the basis of the adopted terms of reference based on international legitimacy and a complete cessation of settlement activities.

4. Our people will continue their popular peaceful resistance to the Israeli occupation and its settlement and apartheid policies and its construction of the racist annexation Wall, and they receive support for their resistance, which is consistent with international humanitarian law and international conventions and has the support of peace activists from Israel and around the world, reflecting an impressive, inspiring and courageous example of the strength of this defenseless people, armed only with their dreams, courage, hope and slogans in the face of bullets, tanks, tear gas and bulldozers.

5. When we bring our plight and our case to this international podium, it is a confirmation of our reliance on the political and diplomatic option and is a confirmation that we do not undertake unilateral steps. Our efforts are not aimed at isolating Israel or de-legitimizing it; rather we want to gain legitimacy for the cause of the people of Palestine. We only aim to de-legitimize the settlement activities and the occupation and apartheid and the logic of ruthless force, and we believe that all the countries of the world stand with us in this regard.

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 peace-making. 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 neighboring States - Palestine and Israel - instead of policies of occupation, settlement, war and eliminating the other.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Despite the unquestionable right of our people to self-determination and to the independence of our State as stipulated in international resolutions, we have accepted in the past few years to engage in what appeared to be a test of our worthiness, entitlement and eligibility. During the last two years our national authority has implemented a program to build our State institutions. Despite the extraordinary situation and the Israeli obstacles imposed, a serious extensive project was launched that has included the implementation of plans to enhance and advance the judiciary and the apparatus for maintenance of order and security, to develop the administrative, financial, and oversight systems, to upgrade the performance of institutions, and to enhance self-reliance to reduce the need for foreign aid. With the thankful support of Arab countries and donors from friendly countries, a number of large infrastructure projects have been implemented, focused on various aspects of service, with special attention to rural and marginalized areas.

In the midst of this massive national project, we have been strengthening what we seeking to be the features of our State: from the preservation of security for the citizen and public order; to the promotion of judicial authority and rule of law; to strengthening the role of women via legislation, laws and participation; to ensuring the protection of public freedoms and strengthening the role of civil society institutions; to institutionalizing rules and regulations for ensuring accountability and transparency in the work of our Ministries and departments; to entrenching the pillars of democracy as the basis for the Palestinian political life.

When division struck the unity of our homeland, people and institutions, we were determined to adopt dialogue for restoration of our unity. We succeeded months ago in achieving national reconciliation and we hope that its implementation will be accelerated in the coming weeks. The core pillar of this reconciliation was to turn to the people through legislative and presidential elections within a year, because the State we want will be a State characterized by the rule of law, democratic exercise and protection of the freedoms and equality of all citizens without any discrimination and the transfer of power through the ballot box.

The reports issued recently by the United Nations, the World Bank, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) and the International Monetary Fund confirm and laud what has been accomplished, considering it a remarkable and unprecedented model. The consensus conclusion by the AHLC a few days ago here described what has been accomplished as a “remarkable international success story” and confirmed the readiness of the Palestinian people and their institutions for the immediate independence of the State of Palestine.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is no longer possible to redress the issue of the blockage of the horizon of the peace talks with the same means and methods that have been repeatedly tried and proven unsuccessful over the past years. The crisis is far too deep to be neglected, and what is more dangerous are attempts to simply circumvent it or postpone its explosion.

It is neither possible, nor practical, nor acceptable to return to conducting business as usual, as if everything is fine. It is futile to go into negotiations without clear parameters and in the absence of credibility and a specific timetable. Negotiations will be meaningless as long as the occupation army on the ground continues to entrench its occupation, instead of rolling it back, and continues to change the demography of our country in order to create a new basis on which to alter the borders.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a moment of truth and my people are waiting to hear the answer of the world. Will it allow Israel to continue its occupation, the only occupation in the world? Will it allow Israel to remain a State above the law and accountability? Will it allow Israel to continue rejecting the resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations and the International Court of Justice and the positions of the overwhelming majority of countries in the world?


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people in the homeland and in the the Diaspora, to say, after 63 years of suffering of the ongoing Nakba: Enough. It is time for the Palestinian people to gain their freedom and independence.

The time has come to end the suffering and the plight of millions of Palestine refugees in the homeland and the Diaspora, to end their displacement and to realize their rights, some of them forced to take refuge more than once in different places of the world.

At a time when the Arab peoples affirm their quest for democracy - the Arab Spring - the time is now for the Palestinian Spring, the time for independence.

The time has come for our men, women and children to live normal lives, for them to be able to sleep without waiting for the worst that the next day will bring; for mothers to be assured that their children will return home without fear of suffering killing, arrest or humiliation; for students to be able to go to their schools and universities without checkpoints obstructing them. The time has come for sick people to be able to reach hospitals normally, and for our farmers to be able to take care of their good land without fear of the occupation seizing the land and its water, which the wall prevents access to, or fear of the settlers, for whom settlements are being built on our land and who are uprooting and burning the olive trees that have existed for hundreds of years. The time has come for the thousands of prisoners to be released from the prisons to return to their families and their children to become a part of building their homeland, for the freedom of which they have sacrificed.

My people desire to exercise their right to enjoy a normal life like the rest of humanity. They believe what the great poet Mahmoud Darwish said: Standing here, staying here, permanent here, eternal here, and we have one goal, one, one: to be.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

We profoundly appreciate and value the positions of all States that have supported our struggle and our rights and recognized the State of Palestine following the Declaration of Independence in 1988, as well as the countries that have recently recognized the State of Palestine and those that have upgraded the level of Palestine’s representation in their capitals. I also salute the Secretary-General, who said a few days ago that the Palestinian State should have been established years ago.

Be assured that this support for our people is more valuable to them than you can imagine, for it makes them feel that someone is listening to their narrative and that their tragedy and the horrors of Al-Nakba and the occupation, from which they have so suffered, are not being ignored. And, it reinforces their hope that stems from the belief that justice is possible in this in this world. The loss of hope is the most ferocious enemy of peace and despair is the strongest ally of extremism.

I say: The time has come for my courageous and proud people, after decades of displacement and colonial occupation and ceaseless suffering, to live like other peoples of the earth, free in a sovereign and independent homeland.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to inform you that, before delivering this statement, I submitted, in my capacity as the President of the State of Palestine and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, to H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, an application for the admission of Palestine on the basis of the 4 June 1967 borders, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, as a full member of the United Nations.

I call upon Mr. Secretary-General to expedite transmittal of our request to the Security Council, and I call upon the distinguished members of the Security Council to vote in favor of our full membership. I also call upon the States that did not recognized the State of Palestine as yet to do so.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The support of the countries of the world for our endeavor is a victory for truth,freedom, justice, law and international legitimacy, and it provides tremendous support for the peace option and enhances the chances of success of the negotiations.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Your support for the establishment of the State of Palestine and for its admission to the United Nations as a full member is the greatest contribution to peacemaking in the Holy Land.

I thank you.

lunes, 19 de septiembre de 2011

Debating the UN bid for Palestinian statehood

Experts discuss what may happen with the Palestinian bid for UN statehood and what it means for all concerned.

A delegation of Palestinian leaders has flown to New York for the opening of the UN General Assembly, beginning on September 19, to request UN membership for a Palestinian state.

Senior members of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) have said they will go to the Security Council. The bid is opposed by Israel and the United States, with the latter threatening to veto any bid for full UN membership.

This diplomatic high-wire act to statehood has garnered international attention and controversy. Experts and stakeholders say the outcome of the bid is unknown. They agree that it marks a change in strategy from previous bi-partisan negotiations, which have failed thus far to bring about a Palestinian state.

Many are sceptical of the move, and several questions remain unanswered. Will it bring an end to the Israeli occupation? Will it alter the US' diplomatic role in the region? Will it get Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table? Or will it inspire a grassroots Palestinian mobilisation?

Al Jazeera speaks to stakeholders, academics, analysts, and activists asking them what they thought of the upcoming bid. What is the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's [PLO's] statehood strategy at the UN, and what are the possible repercussions for all those concerned? 
Avi Shlaim
The background to the UN bid is the Palestinian experience in the last twenty years, since the beginning of the American process of sponsoring Madrid [Conference] in 1991.Shlaim is a professor of international relations at the University of Oxford and a fellow at Saint Antony's College. He was born in Baghdad in 1945 and grew up in Israel. He is a globally renowned scholar on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Let us look at [the UN statehood bid] from what America has done and what Israel has done. The Americans are much further off now than in the immediate aftermath in the two years following the Oslo peace process [in 1993]. Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister, was assassinated in 1995 and it all went downhill from there. US President George W Bush was a complete nightmare for the Palestinians. He gave Sharon a complete free hand [over] the Palestinians.

The option for the Palestinians of just sitting back and doing nothing isn’t a very good one. The bid for statehood is not changing anything on the ground, but in the international arena. It will change the terms of the debate and tilt the balance of power internationally against Israel and in favour of Palestinians. It is mainly a symbolic act. It will change the dynamic in a very symbolic way.

Until now America and Israel control this process. The basis of negotiations was on Israeli terms. The Palestinians had to negotiate with Israel on its own terms. It will change the foundation and change the ground rules. It has become crystal-clear that the occupation is illegal and Israel is building on territory of a sovereign state.

Why are Israel and the US so hysterical about the UN bid if it doesn’t make a difference? They are hysterical about it because until now, for the past 20 years, they have had everything their way. There was the American-sponsored peace process, which was leading nowhere slowly, and Israel was carrying on with its expansionist agenda and pretending to be involved in a peace process. Now this has ended. There is no pretending.

Hassan Jabareen
Jabareen is a lawyer and the founder and general director of Adalah, a legal centre for Arab minority rights in Israel. He also has taught at Israeli law schools since 1998 as an adjunct lecturer on the legal status of Palestinian citizens of Israel. 

The bid for statehood will be considered an internationally embarrassing legal move in the history of the Palestinian national movement.  It is not whether I am for or against the bid, but by my legal analysis the PLO didn’t think through all the legal scenarios of the UN bid and what the legal consequences are.
A resolution which may be accepted by the UN General Assembly in September 2011 should be read legally with the partition Resolution 181 of 1947. To note, Resolution 181 of 1947 cannot contradict the new resolution of September 2011. The rule of interpretation in international law states that the last rule trumps the previous rule or the rules should be read together, harmoniously.
The 1947 Resolution 181 calls for two states, a Jewish state and an Arab state. Despite the fact that the Arabs were against the resolution, it formed the legal basis for Israel as a sovereign state. This is why the Declaration of Independence of Israel relied strongly on this resolution. Based on the Partition Plan, the Jewish state was supposed to be on the border of 1947, which then was about 50 per cent of Palestine. Today, Israel is recognised as a sovereign state, yet there is no recognition of Israel's borders. To note, the International Court of Justice's position regarding the [separation] wall states that the Green Line is a ceasefire border - but it does not mean that it is an internationally recognised legal border.

The upcoming move may make legal revisions to the resolution from 1947 regarding geographical aspects. Therefore, the Jewish state will be on the borders of the Green Line, 75 per cent of Palestine, rather than 50 per cent, as designated by the partition resolution of 1947.

How will the statehood bid affect the status of the refugees?  Resolution 194 of 1948 states that the Palestinians have the right to return and the right for compensation. One interpretation is that resolution 194 continues to be valid. Another interpretation is that the September 2011 resolution created two ethnic states: Israel as a Jewish state and not as a Jewish-Arab state and Palestine as a Palestinian state and not a Palestinian-Jewish state. In order to keep the order of ethnicity, the right to return, should be exercised in the new state of Palestine but without losing the right for compensation.
How will the resolution possibly affect the Palestinian citizens of Israel? One might argue that if with the resolution of September 2011 based on the order of ethnicity of two states for two peoples, then the group rights of the Palestinians in Israel, such as cultural rights and language rights, should be exercised in the new state (of Palestine) as the former foreign minister of Israel Tzipi Livni suggested a couple of years ago.
International human rights law is stronger than UN resolutions. It mandates that every state should treat its citizens equally and that every refugee should return to his ot her homeland. Thus, the September 2011 resolution may create a new struggle between international human rights law, which the Palestinians ironically will fight to uphold, and UN resolutions which affect international relations between states.
Daniel Levy
Levy is a former advisor to Israeli cabinet ministers and is now a US-based analyst. He currently directs the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation and is an editor of Foreign Policy's Middle East channel.
This action undertaken by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation at the UN is not taken in the context of strategy, but because it has stumbled into it and is trying to reclaim some political ground. I think the bid is taking place in a strategic vacuum, and therefore my analysis of what might happen at the UN is based on this being a consequence of political frustration and anxiety, rather than intentionality.

The move is not something that is born of a trenchant critique and reassessment of a failed way of going about advancing their causes. Going to the UN would make more sense as step one in a multi-pronged strategy to bring about a national achievement.

Despite an absence of clear intentionality, if Palestinians do proceed, just winning a vote in the General Assembly, then it gives them a little more recourse to international organisations. None of this is automatic.
The only viable Palestinian path to full UN membership is via the Security Council, and that route is blocked by the certainty of a US veto. Failure at the Security Council may itself be a drawn-out process. Any application would almost certainly have to be considered by a technical committee of the whole and that could take time.
Even if they go to the Security Council, the Palestinians would then deny themselves the option of going for a win at the General Assembly during this window of heightened UN attention. They might otherwise find their entire UN moment sidestepped by extended committee deliberation.
Noura Erakat
Erakat is a human rights attorney and writer. She is currently an adjunct professor of international human rights law in the Middle East at Georgetown University and is the US-based Legal Advocacy Coordinator for the Badil Centre for Palestinian Refugee and Residency Rights.
One of the greatest concerns and the reason that [the statehood bid] has created polarisation in the Palestinian community has been that it is not clear what the objective of the statehood bid by the PLO is.
One can say that, theoretically, it is self-evident that this is something Palestinians have been working for explicitly for, their own state, since 1988 - since the PLO conference at Algiers. There was no PLO meeting to go to the UN; it was just an executive decision by the president to go through with statehood. It generates a lot of scepticism of why statehood? Why now? And what is the strategy?

The act [of applying for statehood] would basically be saying "we are now severing our diplomatic relations with the US and trying something different".

I have heard rumblings that there is a strong preference to go to the General Assembly rather than the Security Council. I am 110 per cent convinced that the current Palestinian leadership is not prepared to do that [go to the Security Council]. It is not whether or not the Palestinians prefer it [a state] or what it means, but the Palestinian leadership is not prepared to do this. They have been approaching statehood with extreme tunnel vision.

We should be asking: What is the right strategy more broadly at this juncture of Palestinian national determination? The aftermath of the Palestine Papers, what can confidently be called the failure of the peace process and the two-state solution, and the context of the Arab Spring, should inform what tactics and other strategies are, including statehood. In-so-far as one is concerned, whatever we do at the UN is not productive. We are setting ourselves up for more risks that we seem unlikely to be prepared for. 

Dan Gillerman
Gillerman was Israel's 13th Permanent Representative to the UN. He served in the UN from January 2002 through 2008. Gillerman is currently in New York for the 66th opening of the General Assembly.
I think Palestinians' main objective is to try and get as many countries around the world to … recognise them. But I think it is also very much a sort of sign of protest and demonstration, because they probably feel that this is what the people expect of them. Quite frankly, I think they are making a big mistake. I know for a fact that many Palestinians, many Palestinian leaders, and even Prime Minister [Salman] Fayyad thinks it is a very bad idea. That in no way will [it] result in having their own state, but at the same time, may create very high expectations among their people.

There will be much drama at the UN, which is a theatre anyways, and, after the drama, the average Palestinian in Nablus or Ramallah or Jenin will wake up, look around him, and realise nothing has changed and will be very frustrated. That frustration could lead to violence and the derailment of any Palestinian prospect of returning to the negotiating table and continuing the peace process.

I was an ambassador at the UN for nearly six years, and I can tell you that personally I would be very happy to raise my arm and vote for a Palestinian state. I think the Palestinians deserve their own state and should have their own state. Israeli leaders have repeatedly expressed their desire for a Palestinian state, but the way to achieve that is not through a unilateral declaration of independence, with nothing more than a big act at the UN, but by negotiations and agreements. At the end of the day, they may get UN recognition, but they will not get a state.

"Basically there are two things in life that people shouldn't do in public - make love and make peace - and they should both be done with your eyes slightly shut and the lights slightly dim."
 Dan Gillerman
One reason the peace process did not progress is that the current US administration has created among the Palestinians very high expectations. They [the US] have … first demanded an open freeze on settlements, and then demanded a return to the 1967 border. As Mahmoud Abbas said to many world leaders, Obama has perched him up on a high tree and run away with a ladder. How can he be less Palestinian than the president of the US?

Unfortunately, what we are witnessing today is speechmaking taking over from peacemaking. I think one of the problems is that the peace process has become so public and it has really turned from a peace process into a press conference. I think basically there are two things in life that people shouldn't do in public - make love and make peace - and they should both be done with your eyes slightly shut and the lights slightly dim. What we do need is a very secret, discreet, and quiet back channel that will bring both parties together to the negotiating table and reach an agreement on Palestinian statehood. 

Husam Zomlot
Zomlot is a senior official in Fatah's Department of Foreign Relations. He grew up in the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza before studying at Birzeit University in Ramallah and holds a PhD from the London School of Economics. He is currently in New York representing the PLO at the 66th UN General Assembly. 
I am supporting the bid and am part of the machine for several reasons. We have been engaged with the international community for many years and are ready for the state to come.
The bid in the very large idea has really been a contract between us, the Palestinians, and the international community, whereby by the end of it there will be a state.
According to the World Bank and IMF [International Monetary Fund] and according to UN organisations, we have done the job that prepares us for a state. We can assume the responsibility of middle-income countries. Now it is time for the other part of contract, the international community, who have contributed monetarily, to recognise us. If the state doesn’t come about bilaterally, it should multi-laterally.
There are three main benefits that have directed or inspired our move - legal, political, and strategic. Legally, this will establish a legal parity, as a state. The main idea is for defence, to prevent an attack. There is a lot of talk about the ICC and how as a state we can pursue cases through them. Our intention is not only to pursue cases, but to stop a crime from happening. Legally, a Palestinian state is a deterrent weapon. We are not going to engage in attacks like Israel does. Our deterrent is international law. Soldiers at checkpoints will think twice before hurting a lady at the border.
"In political terms we have won half of the exercise. We have reinforced forcefully on the international agenda the need for a Palestinian state."
 Husam Zomlot
In political terms we have won half of the exercise. We have reinforced forcefully on the international agenda the need for a Palestinian state. It is an important cause, and nothing will guarantee it is a priority. Now every single activist and journalist has been speaking about Palestine. Thus our political cause has already been achieved.
Strategically, our interest is to challenge the status quo. You may ask: "How this will challenge the status quo? How has Israel sustained the status quo for nearly twenty years?" The bilateral process has led nowhere, and one of the tools to sustain the status quo was negotiations themselves. We stopped that, and we stopped that strategically. Negotiations under the previous terms were just prolonging negotiations. The terms of reference were created and accepted by Israel before we even started. We are not going back to the old days of nonsense.
Our destination is for full membership at the UN. We are going to go to the UN the fastest route - the fastest route that will take us to our final destination.