We are not starting from Zero

“We are not starting from zero. We have the legacy of previous negotiations between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Government of Israel during which we already explored all possibilities and diagnosed all issues”, said President Mahmoud Abbas in the re-launching ceremony of the direct negotiations in presence of U.S. Secretary of state Hillary Clinton and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the U.S. Department of State.

The speech reads:

Mrs. Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State,

Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister,

Ladies and Gentlemen,           

First, allow me to thank you, Secretary Clinton, Senator Mitchell and your teams for the diligent efforts made over the past months to re-launch the permanent status negotiations between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Government of Israel.      

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we launch these negotiations today, we recognize the many obstacles that face us and the difficulties that may arise during these negotiations, which are to conclude within a year and lead to an agreement that achieves a just and lasting peace based on international law and legitimacy.         

However, what inspires us to succeed in these negotiations and what builds our confidence is that the path to achieving peace is clear. It is the path of international law.

The parameters of a just and lasting peace are already established under relevant UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, Quartet statements, the positions of the European Union, and the Arab Peace Initiative. Collectively, these represent for us the international consensus that has formed around the terms of reference, the principles and goals of the negotiations.

We, Ladies and Gentlemen, are not starting from zero. We have the legacy of previous negotiations between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Government of Israel during which we already explored all possibilities and diagnosed all issues.           

We will address all permanent status issues (Jerusalem, refugees settlements, borders, security, water, and the release of all Palestinian prisoners) to bring an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including an end to the occupation of all Palestinian territory that began in 1967, the establishment of the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, and security and safety for the two peoples and for all others in the region.

 We reiterate our commitment to carry out all our obligations, including on security and incitement, we call upon Israel to stop all settlement activities, lift its siege on the Gaza Strip in its entirety, to stop all acts of incitement and to abide by its other obligations.                        

 Ladies and Gentlemen,                

Today, I reiterate what I emphasized in the White House meeting yesterday before President Obama, President Mubarak and King Abdullah. The Palestine Liberation Organization is taking part in these negotiations in good faith and with absolute seriousness and determination to achieve a just peace, which will guarantee the freedom and independence of the Palestinian people.  We will not relinquish our rights and claims, including our rights to the land, and we will continue to insist on a just solution for Palestinian refugees in accordance with international law.

With you, we wish to inaugurate a new era of peace, justice, security and prosperity for all in our region.

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