"We wish to live like other peoples, in freedom and dignity" / "Wir wollen leben wie andere Völker - in Freiheit und Würde"
Speech by President Mahmoud Abbas to the Council of Europe / Im Wortlaut: Die Rede von Palästinenserpräsident Abbas vor dem Europarat
Palästinenserpräsident Mahmud Abbas hat am 6. Oktober 2011 vor dem Europarat für die Anerkennung eines unabhängigen palästinensischen Staates geworben. Zugleich bekräftigte er seine Forderung nach einen Stopp des israelischen Siedlungsbaus in den Palästinensergebieten. Die europäischen Länder hätten den "arabischen Frühling" begrüßt, sagte Abbas. Nun sei der "palästinensische Frühling" gekommen, der Freiheit und ein Ende der israelischen Besatzung fordere. Israel habe seit zwei Jahrzehnten alle Bemühungen für eine friedliche Lösung des Nahostkonflikts zunichte gemacht und auf einem "unannehmbaren Sicherheitskonzept" bestanden, das auf "Expansion und Kolonisierung" basiere. Abbas sagte: "Wir haben uns an die internationale Gemeinschaft gewandt, nachdem der Weg der Verhandlungen verschlossen war, und es war der einzige Weg, die uns übrig blieb." Trotz der viele Provokationen von israelischer Seite, würden die Palästinenser "nicht zulassen, dass sie uns in den Extremismus treiben; diesen Weg werden wir nicht gehen".
Im Folgenden dokumentieren wir die Rede von Mahmoud Abbas im Wortlaut (englisch).
Speech by His Excellency President Mahmoud Abbas
to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
6 October 2011
In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful
President Mevlüt Çavusoglu
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour for me to be with you today, in this historic and venerable House, to speak to
you, elected representatives of the countries of Europe, the living conscience of its friendly
peoples, embodying the values of freedom, justice and human dignity.
I have come to you from Palestine, the land of peace, and the cradle of the three divine
messages and I bring to you a message of peace and love from its people who have been rooted
deeply in this land for thousands of years, devoted to it as their homeland, and continuing,
despite the pain and suffering, their epic journey towards the noble goal of freedom and
Two weeks ago, as President of the State of Palestine and Chairman of the Executive Committee
of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian
people, I asked the Secretary General of the United Nations to accept the accession of the state
of Palestine as a full member of the international organisation and I explained in my speech
before the General Assembly the reasons for a step such as this.
Two decades have passed since the Madrid Peace Conference, and 18 years since the signing of
the Oslo Agreement in Washington, which was supposed to culminate, by May 5 1999 at the
latest, in a final peace agreement terminating in the establishment of an independent Palestinian
state living alongside the state of Israel in peace and security.
Our Palestinian people have been waiting impatiently since that date for implementation of that
agreement, but sadly in vain. How much longer must they wait?
Despite that, we have seized every opportunity to reach a solution through negotiation, we
accepted unreservedly the principle of the road map, despite the observations we had about it,
but we came up against the prevarication of the Israeli government to negotiate on this basis.
Then we accepted the invitation of the former US President George Bush to the Annapolis
negotiations, and those negotiations achieved some progress with the acceptance of the former
Israeli government, under Prime Minister Olmert, to refer to the 1967 borders based on the
principle of equal value and reciprocity in exchange of territory. However, it was not long before
the Israeli government changed, resulting in the cessation of negotiations once again.
When US President Barack Obama was elected, we once again began unreserved co-operation
with his administration, and we agreed to all the suggestions put forward for a resumption of the
negotiations, the latest of which was a round of direct negotiations which Washington initiated in
September 2010 on the condition that it resulted in a peace agreement within one year.
We entered into those negotiations with an open heart, and sincere intentions, however we
came up against the prevarication of the government of Mr Netanyahu to negotiate seriously on
permanent status issues, insofar as they took advantage of the beginning of the negotiations to
embark upon unprecedented intensification of their settlement activity in Jerusalem and other
areas in the occupied West Bank.
That government refused to resume negotiations from the point at which they had ended with
the former government of Mr Olmert, and insisted on returning to point zero, and refused to
apply the terms of reference for the negotiations based on the decisions of international law and
when its representatives sat down at the negotiation table, they refused to discuss the border
issue or any permanent status issues.
With regard to security, we had reached an agreement with the former Israeli government and
the former American administration, and a number of Arab parties on effective measures to
preserve the security of the Palestinians and Israelis via a third-party (NATO). However Mr
Netanyahu rejected all this and insisted on an unacceptable concept of security, based on
expansion and colonisation, including Jerusalem and the settlement areas and lands situated to
the west of the racial separation wall, in addition to the Jordan valley (i.e. more than 40% of the
surface area of the occupied West Bank), and also maintaining military bases inside the West
Bank, and we ask ourselves the following: if these requests are agreed to, where will the
Palestinian state be?
Peace and settlement activity are incompatible and building settlements in occupied territories
and housing settlers there by the occupying forces, this is a flagrant violation of international law
and international humanitarian law, and a clear breach of the Geneva agreements, and the
agreements between the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the state of Israel.
We are convinced of the need for a halt to the settlement activity as it is one of the necessary
conditions for resuming the peace process. This is not a prerequisite but an obligation laid down
in the road map, and the peace process cannot go ahead if it is built solely on compliance by the
Palestinians with their obligations, while Israel flouts all hers.
The settlement expansion has reached a limit representing a serious threat undermining the
material foundations of a two-state solution, and since the signing of the Oslo Agreement the
number of settlers has increased by 300%, and scarcely any day passes without Israel
announcing plans to build thousands of new settlement units.
And what makes things more complicated is the fact that the Netanyahu government is insisting
on laying down new and impossible conditions which have no basis in the terms of reference for
peace or the resolutions adopted under international law, and the demand that the Palestinians
recognise Israel as a “Jewish” state is an unacceptable precondition, because there is a danger
that it will turn the conflict raging in our region into a destructive religious conflict, jeopardising
the future of a million and a half Palestinians living in the state of Israel, removing in advance
the rights of the Palestinian refugees, forming a cover for the expansionist intentions and putting
an end to the opportunities for a two-state solution.
We undertook to respect international law and recognised the state of Israel in accordance with
a negotiated text recorded in letters exchanged between the two late leaders, Yasser Arafat and
Yitzhak Rabin in 1993, and as far as we were concerned this matter was closed and any attempt
to reopen it creates new pretexts for impeding the peace process.
Rather, it is legitimate for us to ask why Israel refuses to recognise our state, the state of
Palestine, if it is really serious about accepting a two-state solution.
We have confirmed our acceptance of international law, when our national Palestinian Council
was set up in 1988, with the adoption of the Palestinian peace programme which embraces a
two-state solution: an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem on
Palestinian lands which Israel occupied in June 1967, i.e. on only 22% of the historical territory
of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security with the state of Israel.
This difficult and painful step was aimed at achieving a historic compromise which would make it
possible to bring about peace between the two peoples.
This programme has become a pillar on which the Arab peace initiative was based, embraced by
the Arab League and other member states of the Islamic Co-operation Organisation. This
initiative reflects the willingness of all these countries to establish normal relations with Israel as
part of a comprehensive and lasting peace to ensure Israel’s withdrawal from all the occupied
Palestinian and Arab territories to the borders as they stood on 4 June 1967, the establishment
of an independent Palestinian state with full sovereignty, with its capital in East Jerusalem,
finding a just and agreed solution to the refugee issue, in accordance with UN Resolution 194,
and ensuring security and peace for all states and peoples in the region.
We have called and are still calling on the Israelis to seize this opportunity open to them which
offers a guarantee for living in peace with the peoples of the region, and which offers them true
security for themselves and their children, as it does for us and our children. Peace is what
makes security, not military power and not domination and geographical expansion. It is not
possible to maintain peace through power, but only through mutual understanding.
In East Jerusalem, the Palestinian inhabitants are subject to a systematic policy of ethnic
cleansing, which includes the demolition of houses, the displacement of populations and the
withdrawal of identity documents, including the people’s elected representatives, with the aim of
forcing them out of their own city; there are restrictions on their freedom to access the holy
sites, and continuing excavations which threaten its foundations, quite apart from the resulting
stranglehold on the city and its isolation from its Palestinian surroundings by means of the ring
of settlements and walls.
The occupying power continues its incursions in areas of the Palestinian National Authority
through raids and arrests; free rein has been given to the armed settler militias, who enjoy the
special protection of the occupation army, attacking the defenceless Palestinian citizens,
targeting their homes, schools, mosques, fields, crops and trees.
It continues to impose its intense blockade on the Gaza Strip, constituting collective sanctions on
the rights of the innocent inhabitants; it continues its targeting of the Strip with assassinations,
air strikes and artillery shelling, persisting with its war of aggression of three years ago, resulting
in mass destruction and huge losses of life and property.
The occupying power is detaining in its prisons more than six thousand Palestinian prisoners,
including 21 elected representatives from various parliamentary groupings who a few days ago
announced a hunger strike in protest at their cruel and humiliating conditions of detention. We
wish to see them free to be with their families, just as Gilad Shalit’s family wishes to see him
free to be once again with them.
Despite the Israeli obstacles, the Palestinian Authority has in recent years worked hard to
implement an intensive programme aimed at promoting and strengthening a culture of peace,
justice, democracy to improve the readiness of Palestinian institutions and prepare them for
independence, and in accordance with the report by the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) of
donor states, and on the basis of the assessments of the World Bank and the International
Monetary Fund and the United Nations Mission, this programme has been completely successful
in upgrading the performance of the Palestinian institutions to a higher level, which is necessary
for administering a successful state.
And the report confirms that Palestine has achieved, in this field, much more than many states
which already enjoy full membership of the United Nations.
On the basis of these achievements, and faced with the increasing suffering of our people under
the occupation, and in the light of the stalemate in the prospects for the negotiations, our only alternative has been to turn to the international community and call on it to take action to open
up new horizons for the peace process, through recognition of the state of Palestine, on the
basis of the 4 June 1967 borders, and accept its accession as a full member of the United
We confirm that by submitting this request, we are not seeking to isolate Israel or delegitimize
it; rather we are seeking to obtain legitimacy for our existence as a people with a right to selfdetermination
like any other people.
Our aim is to delegitimize the occupation, settlement activities and apartheid policies. We can
also confirm that this step of ours is not a substitute for negotiations, but a positive factor in
creating the serious constructive negotiation conditions to bring about fruitful results, and we
reconfirm here today our readiness to return to the negotiating table in accordance with a clear
reference to international legitimacy and on the basis of a complete cessation of settlement
This explains our positive position on the latest Quartet statement, which redefined the terms of
reference for the peace process, especially the two-state principle on the basis of the 1967
borders, and reconfirmed the obligations of both parties under the road map. Israel’s
compliance with these requests will open the way for a resumption of the peace process.
Today 128 member states of the United Nations have recognised the state of Palestine on the
basis of the 4 June 1967 borders, and we are proud that 17 of them are Council of Europe
member states. Palestine has diplomatic relations with 24 other Council of Europe member
states and many of these countries, especially those belonging to the European Union, have
confirmed their willingness to recognise the state of Palestine at the appropriate time. We say to
you in all sincerity: now is the appropriate time and we appreciate the resolution adopted
recently by the European Parliament in this connection and call for it to be implemented.
We also very much appreciate and are proud of the resolution adopted by the Parliamentary
Assembly this past Tuesday calling on the six Council of Europe member states which are
members of the Security Council to support Palestine’s request to become a full member of the
Europe has invested a great deal of effort and money in supporting the construction of
Palestinian institutions and has given our people considerable aid which it will remember with
gratitude and appreciation. Recognition of the state of Palestine and support for its efforts to
become a member of the United Nations is a means of protecting its achievements thanks to
those efforts and that investment, and it is also a means of strengthening the position of Europe
and its leading role in promoting the peace process.
Today we are living in the era of the Arab spring, and we can see the courage of the Arab
peoples, expressing their desire for freedom, democracy and social justice. We Palestinians
have always been at the heart of the movement of Arab peoples aspiring to freedom, and we
have always been committed to democratic traditions, respecting pluralism and the freedom of
opinion and expression, and this has long been a source of pride for us and a source of
inspiration for our brothers from other Arab nations. Today we are at the heart of the Arab
spring: we say that the hour of the Palestinian spring has struck.
And if the essence of the Arab spring was the people’s desire for freedom, then the essence of
the Palestinian spring is to become free of the occupation and achieve freedom and
independence, security and stability, and peace in the region.
The promise of our spring was demonstrated by the wonderful sight of hundreds of thousands of
people coming out onto the streets of the towns and villages of Palestine and in the Diaspora
refugee camps expressing in one voice their wish for Palestine to become state No. 194 of the
United Nations, and this movement remained peaceful and civilised, despite Israeli attempts at
provocation. We today confirm our determination to maintain the peaceful nature of our
movement by the people, because we reject violence, and we reject terrorism in all its forms,
especially state terrorism, and the terrorism of armed settlers. We shall disappoint their hopes
of pushing us towards extremism.
Our people will continue their peaceful resistance against the occupation and settlement
activities and against the racial separation wall, providing in this way an inspiring model of the
power of defenceless people to confront bullets, tear-gas bombs and bulldozers.
The world which celebrated the Arab spring today stands before a test of its credibility: will this
celebration stop at the borders of Palestine? Or will it manage to overcome double standards
and open its arms to embrace the Palestinian spring? Will it allow Israel to remain a state above
the law and above accountability? Will it allow it to continue to reject the resolutions of the
Security Council and the General Assembly and the International Court of Justice and violate
international law? Our people are waiting for the answer and part of this answer lies with you,
elected representatives of the people of Europe. Our people urge you to live up to your
In the midst of this relentless struggle for independence, we shall continue to exert every
possible effort to build up our society, consolidate our democratic institutions, and get our house
in order. However, we shall strive to protect what has already been achieved in this regard and
build on it.
We are particularly proud of the fact that in recent years we have been able to eradicate
illiteracy almost totally in Palestine. Our people have helped build up many countries of the
world, a people that venerates science, culture and creativity, and we have made valuable
progress in extending the education infrastructure at all levels in our country: we now have 49
universities and institutes catering for 5% of the total population, and this work will be pursued
so as to provide education opportunities for all our children.
Thanks to the appreciated support we have received from the Arab and friendly countries,
especially the countries of Europe, we have implemented a number of infrastructure projects,
focusing in particular on developing the health services and with special attention to rural and
marginalised areas. We have worked and shall continue to work on strengthening judicial
authority, the rule of law and maintaining the security and dignity of our citizens.
We have made great strides in the field of women’s participation in public life and in decisionmaking
bodies, the executive, the legislative and the judiciary, and in local authority institutions.
In this connection, we signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women (CEDAW) in order to achieve full gender equality.
We have developed a system for monitoring, accountability and administrative and financial
reform with the aim of establishing transparency, integrity and good governance, striving to
align ourselves with the highest international standards in this field.
In building up our national authority and laying the foundations of our future state, we have
chosen the parliamentary democratic system, based on respect for pluralism, equality between
citizens, women and men, the rule of law, and protection of freedoms and human rights, and
despite the difficulties and external interference and restrictions of the occupation which has
placed obstacles and mines on our path to democracy, we have resolved to pursue our
commitment to the democratic option, to protecting freedom of organisation and party and trade
union work, to strengthening the role of civil society institutions, to protecting freedom of
opinion and expression and freedom of publishing and the press and to protecting individual and
Our success in signing the national reconciliation agreement in Cairo on 4 May last constituted a
major step towards ending the divisions which had split the unity of our national institutions and
had inflicted serious damage on our cause. The essence of this agreement is the formation of a
transitional government from among independent national figures which is preparing to run
presidential, parliamentary and local elections by May 2012 at the latest.
The reconciliation agreement is a positive achievement for the peace process and not the
opposite, and is indispensable for protecting and strengthening Palestinian democracy.
What unites Palestinians and Europeans goes beyond links between geographical neighbours on
the two shores of the Mediterranean, and goes further than mere trading relations or human
interconnections or what has been the result of thousands of years of cultural interaction.
Above all, what unites us are the joint values to which our peoples are committed, the values of
freedom, brotherhood, equality and justice between all human beings, which the peoples of
Europe have championed for centuries, and for which today the Arab peoples, and first and
foremost the Palestinians, are struggling.
We look with admiration at what Europe has achieved in the field of establishing the foundations
of pluralist democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and we look forward to
being able to benefit from your experience in this area, so as to develop our own fledgling
democracy of which we are very proud. And we look with admiration at this ancient city of
Strasbourg which was the site of conflict between the countries of Europe and has become today
the centre of the institutions of a united Europe and support for peace.
And in this context, I cannot but express my pride at the partnership agreement which Salim al-
Za’nun, Speaker of the Palestinian National Council, signed two days ago, which granted the
National Council, the parliament of the Palestinian people in the homeland and the Diaspora,
partner for democracy status with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and we
are particularly proud that Palestine, after Morocco, is among the first Arab countries to be
granted this status, which will have the most positive effect in strengthening the bonds of
friendship and joint co-operation between our peoples and in encouraging the path towards
democracy in our Arab region.
I would like to express to you the gratitude of the Palestinian people for the generous support
they have received from the countries of Europe to help them build their economy and
institutions, and we hope that this role will be strengthened still further through the political role
played by Europe in promoting the peace process in our region.
We have always stressed that we want our European friends to be players and not only payers.
United Nations Resolution 181 adopted in 1947 announced the setting up of two states, one
state, Israel, has come into existence, but the other, Palestine, has not yet seen the light of day.
We have come here to ask for this light for our state. This is our legitimate right guaranteed to
us by international law. But this does not mean that it is a substitute for negotiations, rather it
confirms the necessity of negotiations in order to reach a solution regarding borders, security,
refugees, water, settlements, Jerusalem, freeing the prisoners, and also an end to the conflict in
accordance with the substance of the Arab peace initiative, to ensure that Israel can live in an
ocean of peace that includes all Arabs and Muslims.
We wish to live like other peoples, in freedom and dignity and we are not seeking to isolate
anyone. We wish to protect both the Palestinian and Israeli people from this occupation and
colonisation which are destroying the future of both peoples. They have to choose between
colonisation and peace. We have chosen peace.
You supported the Arab spring which was seeking democracy and freedom. Now the Palestinian
spring has arrived asking for freedom and an end to the occupation. We deserve your support.
We place our trust in you and are confident that you will not abandon us and leave us all on our
We are depending on you.
Quelle: Website des Europarats; http://www.coe.int
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