National Rights of Palestine Key to Peace - Abbas
Abbas Declares National Rights of Palestine Key to Peace with Israel
By Genevieve Cora Fraser
President Mahmoud Abbas advised the Hamas dominated opening session of the Second Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) that the peace process, which was established by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to build a present and a future for the Palestinian people in a modern state, must be allowed to move forward if there is to be any hope in combating Israeli extremism which is attempting to eliminate the political identity of the Palestinian people and its national rights. Abbas’ comments were in response to statements made by newly elected Hamas members who reject calls for renewed talks with Israel.
“Our achievements would not have been possible, without the insistence of the PLO on national unity, and its adoption of the most effective forms of struggle based on carefully examined and studied policies, governed by the national higher interest for the Palestinian people, and in accordance with international resolutions,” the President reminded legislators. “The PLO was able to carry our cause to the furthest reaches of the world, to all its peoples, until the doors of the United Nations opened for us. On that platform, President Yasser Arafat stood in our name, holding an olive branch, asking the entire world not to drop it. International and regional recognition of our people, the PLO, and our rights followed. This constituted a political reserve from which we still draw strength and effective international presence.”
“Likewise, we launched political initiatives with our Arabs and Muslims brothers, expressed through balanced decisions issued in Arab and Islamic summits. These decisions have placed the national rights of the Palestinian people as the central cause of both the Muslim and Arab worlds, and in a manner that addresses the entire world with the language of the modern age,” Abbas said. “The PLO has led this important historic era despite the presence of its leader, institutions and frameworks in exile.”
In 1988 the PNC met in Algiers and declared the establishment of the State of Palestine in exile through a Declaration of Independence that accompanied the recognition of United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338. Resolution 242 which was adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council in 1967 following the Six Day War called for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights, territories that were occupied in the conflict and “the termination of all claims or states of belligerency". The Resolution also called for the establishment of defensible boundaries for all parties. Resolution 242 was reaffirmed and made binding by UN Security Council Resolution 338, adopted after the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
The Palestinian Declaration of Independence was adopted soon after the outbreak of the first popular uprising (Intifada) in the year 1987. “This political struggle bore fruit when there was an important imbalance in the international arena as a result of the fall of the Soviet Union and the start of the second Gulf War. These events necessitated a rethinking and reformulation of new equations for stability in our region. Had Palestine not been present as a recognized state, and as a PLO that embodies a strong representative political body, the world, with its new powers, would have bypassed us. No-one would have thought of us in the framework of any international or regional arrangements,” Abbas explained to the opening PLC session.
“Seizing the opportunity of this presence, a political process was started and the American-Palestinian dialogue, which was a taboo for many decades, was launched. The peace process was started in Madrid, and we are all aware of its chapters and developments. At the same time, there were secret channels working which led to the Oslo Accords, and the mutual recognition of the PLO and Israel. There were many unfounded rumors regarding these Accords, all of which aim at putting them in question. Most important of these was that the Oslo Accords were signed behind the backs of the Palestinian people, since the negotiations were managed in utmost secrecy,” Abbas stated in an attempt to lay all cards out on the table.
“Political action in secrecy is a familiar process in all or most negotiations carried out between two conflicting parties,” he asserted and reminded the council that the results of the negotiations were made public and presented to representative political institutions for approval. “This happened when we submitted the Accords to the legislative and executive institutions of the PLO, which discussed, voted upon, and endorsed them…. Since then, we have accepted and respected the right of any individual, group or political faction to voice its objection on the Oslo Accords. But we have not and will not accept any questioning of the Accords’ legitimacy. Indeed, from the hour they were endorsed, they became a political reality to which we remain committed.”
“Objectively speaking, while we do not consider Oslo to have incorporated all what we want, the Accords have led to the establishment of the first Palestinian National Authority (PNA) on parts of our homeland. They have permitted the return of thousands of our people from the Diaspora and exile. They have established this Council,” he reminded the legislators.
“While Israel wanted the PLC in the beginning to be merely an administrative council devoid of any legislative, representative, or political content, we imposed it as a body similar in nature to a state’s parliament. We have imposed elections as the means to choosing members, and we have developed its responsibility and mandate to reach what we have reached today in the Basic Law – our temporary constitution pending the endorsement of the permanent constitution of our country.”
Abbas acknowledged that the expectation from the Oslo Accords was that the peace process would end the occupation from all of the occupied territories in 1967, but “extremists’ in Israel mobilized, leading to the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin when we were still at the beginning of the path.”
“In reality, it was not a mere political assassination, but an intentional attempt to halt the peace process that was spearing ahead. It was an attempt to substitute it with a different process consisting of denying the Palestinian partner, imposing unilateral solutions that are based on the logic of force, and imposing a reality with arms while continuing the expansion of settlements,” he stresed.
“The subsequent Israeli policies followed a program and implemented measures aiming at the cancellation of the Oslo Accords. This froze the peace process, unleashed extremism, and destroyed all efforts to create a new atmosphere between the Palestinians and the Israelis. This all paved the way for the era of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who declared an open battle against the Palestinian people, and proceeded to systematically destroy the PA’s institutions and frameworks. During this period, the racist separation Wall was built and settlement activities in the West Bank were doubled. He introduced an iron fist policy against the Palestinian people everywhere, besieging them and their President until the latter’s death,” Abbas stated.
Abbas as Arafat’s successor reassured the gathering, “We are pursuing, with our friends all over the world, the reasons of the late President, our historic leader Yasser Arafat’s death. We will not close this file. The issue of his passing away will remain open until the truth is out.”
In conclusion he emphasized the importance of “completing the dialogue among all factions and parties to activate our organization, renew its structures and frameworks, and improve its performance at all levels. We have started this dialogue a long time ago, and it is time to reach the results hoped for,” he said.