zaterdag 1 december 2007

Rapport waarschuwt tegen voorstel om nieuwe buitenposten te financieren

Voor leken zoals ik is het onderscheid tussen een nederzetting, een buitenpost en een 'neighborhood' niet altijd duidelijk. Een buitenpost is kleiner en niet door Israël geautoriseerd, en daarom ook voor de Israëlische wet illegaal. Maar veel nederzettingen zijn als buitenpost begonnen, steeds weer confronteerden de kolonisten de regering met 'feiten op de grond', en steeds weer accepteerde zij deze - en soms had zij onofficieel de bouw van nieuwe nederzettingen gestimuleerd.

Ondanks het feit dat de VS in Annapolis wederom duidelijk maakte dat Israël de buitenposten moet ontruimen, iets waar Olmert vantevoren al in had toegestemd, ligt er nu blijkbaar een voorstel van het ministerie van justitie dat neerkomt op financiële steun van de staat voor de bouw van nieuwe buitenposten.

A major contention for Sasson is a clause stating that settlements would be allowed to realize old building plans that have been approved by former governments. "This allows expanding settlements by a letting them form a new 'neighborhood' several kilometers away from the main settlement," Sasson says. "These so-called neighborhoods will in fact become new settlements."

According to Sasson, by approving the proposal the government runs the risk of losing grip on settlements. "The minister who will be asked to vote on this will not know how many settlements we're talking about, where they will spring up and how many people will live there."

De regering is lang geleden al de grip op de nederzettingen verloren. Het is te hopen dat men Sassons kritiek ter harte neemt, en dat desnoods het hooggerechtshof deze wet verbiedt. Hoe een en ander zich verhoudt tot beloften over vrede en twee-staten en verzoening, mag iemand nog eens uitleggen. Net als aan de Palestijnse kant, heeft wat er in Annapolis is afgesproken nog niet veel invloed op de realiteit. Ik stel voor dat men de realiteit aanpast, niet de mooie woorden op vredesconferenties.


Last update - 05:13 30/11/2007

Report warns against proposal for funding of W. Bank outposts

By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent

The author of a highly influential government report on illegal outposts in the West Bank has recently warned the government against approving a new justice ministry proposal that would allow state funding for outposts, Haaretz has learned.

In her letter to the Ministerial Committee on Unauthorized Outposts - a panel which was formed to implement her report on the subject - Tali Sasson says the proposal would constitute "a clear and immediate violation of the prime minister's prior commitments to the president of the United States."

The ministry's proposal, which will come up for discussion in 10 days, advocates cementing Jewish ownership of land that is owned by Palestinians, Sasson said. She also criticized what she called "allowing state funding for illegal outposts." The proposal was drafted in consultation with various parties, including settler and political leaders. One of these leaders was Avigdor Lieberman, who is a member of the committee on outposts and leader of Yisrael Beiteinu.

Political analysts anticipate the committee to vote in favor of the proposal. Kadima's members of the committee - Vice Premier Haim Ramon, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and Minister for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee Jacob Edery - are expected to vote in favor.

"The proposal clearly conflicts with the report's findings and recommendations, and does not agree with the government's decision to form the ministerial committee in March 2005," Sasson wrote in her letter - a copy of which was sent to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz's office.

"The proposal only appears to keep with the spirit of the document. But by stating exceptions to the rules put forth in the report, the proposal suggests turning the exception into the rule and vice versa," Sasson recently told the committee.

A major contention for Sasson is a clause stating that settlements would be allowed to realize old building plans that have been approved by former governments. "This allows expanding settlements by a letting them form a new 'neighborhood' several kilometers away from the main settlement," Sasson says. "These so-called neighborhoods will in fact become new settlements."

According to Sasson, by approving the proposal the government runs the risk of losing grip on settlements. "The minister who will be asked to vote on this will not know how many settlements we're talking about, where they will spring up and how many people will live there."

"We have a whole generation's worth of experience that shows how interested parties have used an exception and every crack. This was done extensively and in an uncontrolled manner," Sasson said. She also protested against the intention of granting the Israel Defense Forces the ability to determine what would constitute a new neighborhood or expansion of an existing one.

"These definitions have distinct political ramifications, and it is not within our interests to involve professional levels in decisions that have such a political flavor," Sasson went on to say.

In her letter, Sasson made a point of stressing that in order to form new settlements, the settlers should obtain the permission of the presiding government, and not the resolutions of governments that came from the circumstances that pertained to the 1970s.

"The committee, under the new proposal, would be allowed to enable the settlers to build in illegal settlements without regulating their legal status - thereby laundering illegal construction in the West Bank," Sasson argued.

Olmert voorziet moeilijke onderhandelingen na Annapolis, maar er is geen alternatief

"If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished,"

Deze opmerking verscheen gisteren in diverse Nederlandse kranten, soms met de opmerking erbij dat zelfs Olmert nu de omstreden vergelijking met Zuid-Afrika maakt, die immers onder antizionisten zo populair is.
Uiteraard vergleijkt Olmert Israël niet met Zuid-Afrika, maar hij heeft het over de gevolgen van een zogenaamde een-statenoplossing. Als Israël de bezette gebieden zou annexeren, zoals met name extremisten in de VS bepleiten, zou het de Palestijnen die daar leven stemrecht en het Israëlische staatsburgerschap moeten geven, anders zou het zijn democratische karakter verliezen. De twee-statenoplossing, en dus een Palestijnse staat, is in het belang van Israël en daarom moet Israël zich inzetten voor vrede.
Dat is een boodschap waar weinig tegenin te brengen is lijkt me, een krachtig pleidooi voor de twee-statenoplossing. Tegenstanders van Israël weten er echter altijd weer een draai aan te geven die Israël in een ongunstig daglicht stelt.

PM to Haaretz: Talks will be tough, require patience
Olmert: Two-state solution, or Israel is finished 
By Aluf Benn, David Landau, Barak Ravid and Shmuel Rosner,
Haaretz Correspondents and AP

WASHINGTON - "If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Haaretz Wednesday, the day the Annapolis conference ended in an agreement to try to reach a Mideast peace settlement by the end of 2008.

"The Jewish organizations, which were our power base in America, will be the first to come out against us," Olmert said, "because they will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents."

Olmert pointed out that he had said similar things in an interview he gave four years ago, when he was deputy prime minister under Ariel Sharon, in which he revealed for the first time his proposal for a withdrawal from most of the occupied territories.

"Since then, I have systematically repeated those positions," he said, adding that people "will say I'm having problems and that's why I'm trying to do [a peace process], but the facts must be dealt with justly."

Olmert said the Annapolis conference "met more than we could have defined as the Israeli expectations, but that will not absolve us of the difficulties there will be in the negotiations, which will be difficult, complex, and will require a very great deal of patience and sophistication."

According to Olmert, "we now have a partner," in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "He is a weak partner, who is not capable, and, as Tony Blair says, has yet to formulate the tools and may not manage to do so. But it is my job to do everything so that he receives the tools, and to reach an understanding on the guidelines for an agreement. Annapolis is not a historic turning point, but it is a point that can be of assistance."

The prime minister said that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni would continue to head up the Israeli negotiating team.

"There will also be people acting on my behalf, who will have a very significant role in this process, and the ones ultimately who will be in charge of this matter will be the leaders on both sides. That is why we announced that we will continue to meet regularly."

General James Jones, who was NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe until 2006, has been appointed the U.S.'s new security coordinator in the territories. According to a senior diplomatic source, Jones will determine whether Israel and the Palestinians have met their commitments in accordance with the "road map" plan, and will draw up security plans for transfering responsibility for additional Palestinian cities from the Israel Defense Forces to Abbas' forces.

On Wednesday, Olmert and Abbas met again separately with President George W. Bush, and later joined him, along with their chief negotiators, Livni and Ahmed Qurei, for a brief ceremony in the White House Rose Garden to inaugurate the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

"One thing I have assured both gentlemen is that the United States will be actively engaged in the process," Bush said. "We will use our power to help you as you come up with the necessary decisions to lay out a Palestinian state that will live side-by-side in peace with Israel." "Yesterday was an important day, and it was a hopeful beginning," Bush said with the leaders at his side. "No matter how important yesterday was, it's not nearly as important as tomorrow and the days beyond. I appreciate the commitment of these leaders, working hard to achieve peace. I wouldn't be standing here if I didn't believe that peace was possible, and they wouldn't be here either if they didn't think peace was possible." Unlike their three-way handshake on Tuesday, the leaders did not shake hands in the Rose Garden.

Olmert also met Wednesday with China's foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, and spoke by phone with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He also briefed the cabinet members by phone.

Olmert departed the U.S. Wednesday night and will be arriving in Israel Thursday afternoon, in time for the Knesset's special session marking the 60th anniversary of the UN partition plan that called for the formation of a Jewish homeland.


Olmert's private conversation with Bush Wednesday centered on blocking the Iranian nuclear threat. Olmert told reporters Wednesday that "there is nowhere I encounter greater understanding for Israel's existential issues than in the Oval Office."

At a meeting earlier this week in Washington, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov informed Defense Minister Ehud Barak that Russia has decided to supply the nuclear fuel rods for Iran's Bushehr power plant.

The fuel will be sent to Iran in special packaging, in keeping with the instruction of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Lavrov told Barak, adding that "it is not so simple to open these packages without it being discovered."

Lavrov's announcement contradicts Russian President Vladimir Putin's promise, during his meeting with Olmert several weeks ago, not to supply the fuel for the reactor in Bushehr.

De betekenis van een natie-staat

Een Joodse staat sluit de rechten van minderheden net zo min uit als Denemarken of Frankrijk. Uit een pas uitgekomen poll blijkt dat Israëlische Arabieren vinden dat de Palestijnse Autoriteit niet in hun naam allerlei concessies mag doen, waaronder Israël als Joodse staat erkennen of instemmen met een landruil (omdat men bang is dat Israël gebied waar voornamelijk Arabieren wonen zal willen afstaan aan de Palestijnse staat, en zij dus in de Palestijnse staat komen te leven). Minister van buitenlandse zaken Tzipi Livni voedde deze angst (die irreëel lijkt, want Israël kan geen burgers tegen hun zin hun staatsburgerschap afnemen), door te zeggen dat wanneer er een Palestijnse staat is, deze ook de nationale aspiraties van de Arabische minderheid in Israël zal vervullen.
Israëlische Arabieren hebben vorig jaar geëist dat Israël een soort binationale staat wordt, waar Arabieren en Joden niet alleen individueel, maar ook als nationale groep, gelijke rechten hebben en gelijke invloed op het karakter en beleid van het land, waaronder een vetorecht voor de Arabische minderheid op een aantal punten. Israël zou dan ophouden een Joodse staat te zijn, en voor alle cruciale zaken zou goedkeuring van de Arabische minderheid noodzakelijk zijn. Ik noem dit weleens het anderhalf staten plan: anderhalve staat voor de Palestijnen, en een halve voor de Joden.
Behalve een recept voor burgeroorlog en een nieuwe regionale oorlog ontzegt het het Joodse volk een basaal recht: dat op zelfbeschikking.  

Last update - 11:59 28/11/2007

For those who have forgotten what a nation-state is 
By David Navon

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni found herself under heavy attack from the Arab Knesset members, backed by her colleague from the coalition, Ophir Pines-Paz, for supposedly expressing the views of the extreme right. And what was all this about? About having said that when a Palestinian state is established, it will also fulfill the national aspirations of the Israeli Arabs.

I could not believe my ears when I heard that. After all, it is for this very purpose that the solution of "two states for two peoples" was meant. Were the two peoples desirous of living in a bi-national state, there would be no reason to partition the land. But nations have been granted the right of self-determination. For that reason, most nation-states were not formed on multi-national territory, but rather as the result of partitioning that kind of territory on the basis of the lines that separate the living areas of members of different peoples and setting up nation-states in the areas where one of the peoples has a majority.

This, of course, does not negate the civil rights of minorities living in a nation-state. But it would be ridiculous if, in the name of equality, that very target for which the people had aspired to set up a state of their own, were lost. An ethnic Hungarian born in Bratislava will have citizenship identical to that of an ethnic Slovak born in Bratislava, but it is clear that the country where both live is a Slovakian state. As a state, it aspires, for example, to nurture the heritage of the Slovakian people, even if it enables the Hungarian minority to maintain its heritage.

An ethnic Turk born in Copenhagen will have the same citizenship as an ethnic Dane born in Copenhagen, but it is clear the country where they live is the state of the Danes. The Danish state will give preference to ethnic Danish repatriates over migrants from Turkey or any other ethnicity. And for that very reason, ethnic Macedonians insist that Macedonia should not be a binational state, as the large Albanian minority is demanding: The Albanian people already have a state of their own, the Macedonians have only Macedonia.

It was on this same basis that the League of Nations assigned the Land of Israel to the Jewish people, and in its partition resolution, the United Nations assigned part of it to the Jewish state even though a great number of Arabs lived there. The establishment of a Palestinian state is supposed to constitute the completion of the partition process. In view of the fact that there is a partition, this means that there will be two nation-states in this land. The State of Israel is the nation-state where the Jewish people fulfill their national aspirations, even though there are millions of Jews living outside of it, and even though one fifth of its citizens are not Jewish.

Its existence, of course, does not negate the right of the members of the minority who reside there, who are not members of the Jewish people, to be equal citizens of the state. But the state is not the state of their people. The state of the people of the Arab minority will be beyond the border. If the state of Palestine is defined as the state that answers the national aspirations of all Palestinians, including those who reside in, say, Belize, then it is also supposed to satisfy the national aspirations of the residents of Umm al-Fahm.

This is apparently what the foreign minister meant to say. She was not talking about a transfer of populations nor about exchanging territories, but rather of the residents of Umm al-Fahm coming to terms with the realization that they are residents of a state that is not the state of their people. Since, after a peace treaty, the state of their people will be on the other side of the border, they can be consoled by this. Scant consolation, but that is the fate of millions of people all over the world whom history has fated to be residents of a state that is the not the state of their people.

We are not referring especially to migrants, but rather to locals who found their place on the wrong side of the border. This is what happened to the German-speaking residents of Alto Adige (South Tyrol?), a region which has been part of Italy since World War I. They aspired to be reannexed by Austria and some of them even engaged in terror, which died down only about 20 years ago. But in the end, they came to terms with the fate of having to live in the Italian state with the realization that their people at least are able to fulfill their national aspirations in the neighboring state.

This analogy, however, is not complete. When the residents of Umm al-Fahm are offered what the South Tyrol residents can merely dream about - namely to be annexed to their people's state - they and the entire leadership of their sector raise their voices in protest. Regardless of the actual proposal, it is interesting to know what the source of this opposition is. If it were a matter of national insurance, it could be solved with ease. Other socio-economic explanations also do not tell the entire story. Perhaps it is that they regard themselves as members of a different people from those in Ramallah and Gaza? A more reasonable explanation than the others is buried in another dream: that one day, Israel will cease to be the state of the Jews.

If that is indeed their dream, no real peace can be established here until everyone recognizes that this peace puts a total end to the conflict between all Arabs and the state of the Jews. If there is no such recognition, it is possible that we shall wake up in another 10 or 20 years to a new violent conflict, this time of the type in Northern Ireland, where a small local underground backed by a political movement in a neighboring country tries to forcefully complete the second stage of the homeland's "liberation," whose first stage was granted by a previous agreement.

The demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state is therefore not superfluous. It is not a matter of honor. We do not need their approval, of course. But recognition is not approval, but rather a certain commitment. That is why, for us, it is an essential condition.

Prof. Navon teaches psychology at the University of Haifa

Zionist Movement in 1947: Between pragmatism & ideology

Op 29 november 60 jaar geleden stemde de Algemene Vergadering van de Verenigde Naties voor deling van het mandaatgebied Palestina in een Joodse en een Arabische staat.
De Arabieren wezen het plan af, de Zionisten accepteerden het wel. Onderstaand artikel gaat in op hoe die beslissing tot stand kwam en op meningsverschillen binnen de Zionistische beweging. Het VN delingsplan uit 1947 voorzag in verschillende enclaves die met smalle corridors met elkaar waren verbonden, en Jeruzalem en Bethlehem zouden onder internationaal toezicht komen. Het Joodse deel omvatte iets meer land (55% tegen 45%), maar daarvan was meer dan de helft woestijn.

Ter informatie: het Peel Commissie plan waar een paar keer naar wordt verwezen voorzag een deling in een zeer kleine Joodse staat (ca. 20% van het mandaatgebied) en een grote Arabische staat (ca. 70%), terwijl het gebied rond Jeruzalem zou worden geinternationaliseerd.

Between pragmatism & ideology

Colin Shindler , THE JERUSALEM POST Nov. 28, 2007

The Zionist leadership was incredibly pessimistic in the spring of 1947 that the handing over of responsibility of the Palestine question to the United Nations would bring any sort of positive results. If it eventually came to a vote, the British were confident that the Zionists would fail dismally to achieve a two thirds majority at the UN. Yet as history records, on 29 November 1947, the General Assembly vote on partition was 33 for, 13 against with 10 abstentions.

Harold Beeley, the advisor on Palestine to the British Foreign Office had told David Horowitz, head of the Jewish Agency's economics department, that without the full weight of the Soviet bloc, the Zionists would fail dismally and the responsibility for Palestine would probably be returned to an emboldened, empowered British authority. In April 1947, the Soviets had voted with the Arabs at the UN. In May 1947, Andrei Gromyko made his famous intervention which argued that the preferred solution was a bi-national state, but if this was not possible, then a partitioned state was the answer. This flew in the face of Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy and the fact that the Soviet Union had been sending Zionists to the Gulag for the past 25 years. The Kremlin wanted to exclude not only the British, but also stop increasing American involvement in the Middle East. Moreover, the powerful Zionist Left, besotted with the USSR, the Kremlin reckoned, could prove to be a political asset in the future.

At the beginning of 1947, it was also believed that the Vatican would not favor a Jewish state on theological grounds. Yet a majority of Latin American states voted for partition. In the last few days before the vote, US president Harry S Truman fully threw his political authority behind the Zionist diplomatic effort.

YET ABOVE all, 1947 indicated a determined common effort, a Zionist popular front, to sink personal and ideological differences and to utilize this almost unexpected opportunity which had arisen. It is no cliché to state that the weight of Jewish history was upon their shoulders.

Before 1947, there had been severe division within Zionist ranks. The co-chairmen of the American Zionist Emergency Committee, Stephen Wise and Abba Hillel Silver, did not see eye to eye. This was further complicated by the opening of a Jewish Agency office in Washington in 1943 by Chaim Weizmann. The office was headed by Nahum Goldmann whose cavalier diplomacy and independent action infuriated Silver.

Goldmann openly espoused partition whereas Silver believed that this was tactically foolish since the British would attempt to whittle down any proposition. He argued that only a maximalist position should be pitched, compromise could come later. Goldmann said that this denied the Jewish reality in 1946. Following the Holocaust, there simply were not enough European Jews that could create a Jewish majority in a non-partitioned state. Although Silver refused to testify before the Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry in 1946, by the autumn of 1947, he too began to use all his talents for support the recommendations of the UN Special Committee on Palestine for a partitioned state.

This movement toward accepting partition affected Zionist parties which 10 years before in 1937 had vehemently opposed the Peel Commission's proposals for the division of Palestine. The Holocaust and its aftermath of wrecked lives and displaced people had created an urgency which relegated ideology to a secondary concern. Golda Meir had opposed partition in 1937, but supported it in 1947. The religious Zionists of Mizrachi moved toward supporting Yehuda Leib Maimon (Fishman) who advocated partition over the revered Meir Bar-Ilan. The Lamifneh faction of Hapoel Hamizrachi included many Jews from Germany, Yosef Burg, Moshe Unna and Ephraim Urbach - they too argued for partition.

There were even dramatic displays of disunity at the world conference of Agudat Yisrael in Marienbad in August 1947. The ultra-orthodox party had been established as a bulwark against Zionism. Its president had told the Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry in 1946 that "for us, the state is not a goal in itself." Yet at the conference, survivors were willing to oppose party leaders and demand to go to Palestine.

The long time belief of the Marxist Zionists, Hashomer Hatzair in a bi-national state, started its slow demise with Gromyko's fateful statements at the UN. Indeed, the movement's initial belief was that he had been misreported. The Communists of Palestine had unfortunately published an editorial on the same day as Gromyko's speech recommending the old line of a federated Arab-Jewish state. Like all dedicated followers of Soviet Communism, they saw the light - and it was good. Achdut Ha'avodah, the party of Yitzhak Tabenkin, Yigal Allon, Moshe Carmel and Yitzhak Rabin, believed that a Jewish socialist society should be constructed before the proclamation of a Jewish state. Tabenkin wanted an extension of the Mandate and believed that the ensuing conflict had been deliberately contrived by the British to obstruct Arab-Jewish cooperation.

THE MAIN group of Zionists which did not move from their ideological beliefs were the nationalists - the Revisionists, the Irgun and Lehi. Ze'ev Jabotinsky had opposed the 1937 partition, labelling the partitioned state as a new "Pale of Settlement." Menachem Begin similarly spoke about the gettoization of the Jews in a statelet along the coast which would be unable to absorb large numbers of Jews.

It would be economically unviable and would have to maintain a large army. The Irgun envisaged that the Negev would be unsuitable for Zionist settlement for decades. Above all, Begin lamented the first partition of Palestine and refused to accept that the East Bank, TransJordan, had been irrevocably lost.

In a memo to the UN in April 1947, the Irgun stated its belief that the Jews constituted a clear majority of the population on both sides of the Jordan. This included "those of our people, numbering millions, who strive to return to it immediately but are unable to realize their right because the British occupation regime… has placed it self in their path."

Begin also invoked "the consciousness of historic unity" of the present with the past. Such "imponderables," he argued, were one of the most real factors in human history. "Their power is supreme and their influence ineradicable."

Most Zionists disagreed with him and made a difficult choice between pragmatism and ideology. Begin never lost his attachment to the East Bank and his distaste for partition, yet he, too, as prime minister, had to distinguish between the dream and the reality.

The writer lectures in Israeli studies at London University. Cambridge University Press will be publishing his History of Modern Israel in 2008.

Welke Arabische leider reikt Livni de hand?

"I have heard some say that Israel should not expect a handshake, and I will not ask for one. But let us imagine what might happen if the worst possible scenario occurs and there is a handshake between an Israeli leader and an Arab leader whose country has no diplomatic relations with Israel, and that handshake is broadcast around the world.
"Then the extremists in the Arab countries will understand that a new era is beginning, that the process is right and that it is being implemented in stages," continued the quote provided by the Foreign Ministry [Livni].
... òf de Arabische leiders zullen nog onpopulairder worden dan ze al zijn, met onrust en spanningen tot gevolg. Sadat is vermoord vanwege de vrede met Israël.
Toch zullen de Arabische leiders hun volken op de één of andere manier moeten voorbereiden op een mogelijke vrede en normalisatie met Israël, en op het feit dat de Palestijnen niet alles zullen kunnen binnenhalen.
Dat is natuurlijk moeilijk zolang ze zelf vinden dat Israël alle Palestijnse eisen moet inwilligen. De VS heeft ze zover gekregen op deze top met Israël te verschijnen, misschien moet de VS ze ook maar eens gaan uitleggen dat de vluchtelingen niet terug kunnen naar Israël, en dat op zijn minst een gedeelte van de Oude Stad van Jeruzalem Israëlisch zal blijven. En vooral dat de Joden een volk zijn met recht op een soevereine staat.

Nov 29, 2007 11:05 | Updated Nov 29, 2007 16:21


FM's complaints of Arab conduct denied



The Foreign Ministry on Thursday denied earlier reports in The Washington Post according to which Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had called on Arab delegates at the Annapolis conference to stop treating her "as a pariah" and asked them why no one would shake her hand or be seen speaking to her.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
Photo: AP

According to a transcript of the speech provided by the Foreign Ministry, Livni did not in fact say any of the statements attributed to her, but rather said:

"I have heard some say that Israel should not expect a handshake, and I will not ask for one. But let us imagine what might happen if the worst possible scenario occurs and there is a handshake between an Israeli leader and an Arab leader whose country has no diplomatic relations with Israel, and that handshake is broadcast around the world."

"Then the extremists in the Arab countries will understand that a new era is beginning, that the process is right and that it is being implemented in stages," continued the quote provided by the Foreign Ministry.

The statements previously attributed to Livni had reportedly been given to The Washington Post by Dutch European Affairs Minister Frans Timmermans.

Livni and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke to the summit's attendees in a closed-door session following the televised addresses by American, Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Many of these represented Arab nations that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Referring to the Arab delegates' attitude towards Livni, Timmermans said they "shun her like she is Count Dracula's younger sister."

Livni had failed in attempts to set up meetings in Annapolis or Washington with colleagues from the Arab world, even though the summit was designed to show international support for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal had stated before the conference that he would not shake the hands of Israeli delegates, dismissing what he called theatric gestures.

Livni, who was interested in meeting some of the 15 representatives from the Arab and Muslim world at the conference who do not have ties with Israel, only held a meeting in Washington with Salaheddin al-Bashir, the Jordanian foreign minister whose country does have full diplomatic ties with Israel. That meeting took place Wednesday in Washington.

The Jerusalem Post has learned that there was also some pre-summit talk of Livni flying to one of the North African countries - Morocco or Tunisia - on her way home from Washington, but that this also failed to materialize.

Meanwhile, Rice, speaking after Livni, reflected on her childhood in the segregated South and said it allowed her to better understand both sides of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Officials in the room at the time told The Washington Post that Rice spoke without notes, recalling "a time of separation and tension."

She told delegates that when a local church was bombed by white separatists, four girls were killed, including one of her classmates.

"Like the Israelis, I know what it is like to go to sleep at night, not knowing if you will be bombed, of being afraid to be in your own neighborhood, of being afraid to go to your church," she said.

She added, however, that as a black child in the South, forbidden to use certain water fountains and shunned from certain restaurants, she was also in a good position to understand the feelings of the Palestinians.

"I know what it is like to hear to that you cannot go on a road or through a checkpoint because you are Palestinian," she said. "I understand the feeling of humiliation and powerlessness."

"There is pain on both sides," Rice concluded. "This has gone on too long."

Israeli officials interpreted Arab nations' refusal to meet with its representatives as evidence that the Arab world had not changed its fundamental policy that there would be no warming of relations with Israel until after a deal, and that normalization was one of the Arab world's major bargaining chips.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, likewise, did not hold any public meetings with any of the Arab representatives, and sufficed with pleasantries and handshakes with a few of them - the representatives from Qatar, Bahrain, Morocco and Pakistan - after delivering his speech Tuesday in Annapolis.

The Arab states present at the conference included Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The Muslim states who participated were Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey.


Uitgestelde AbvaKabo Israël boycot conferentie haalt Haaretz

We hadden kunnen weten waarom de Palestina conferentie van de AbvaKabo voor onbepaalde tijd is uitgesteld: daar zitten natuurlijk de Zionisten achter, niet die paar in Nederland, maar de echte, in bezet Palestina. De Histadroet, de Israëlische vakbond, heeft zijn lange tentakels uitgestoken tot in ons kikkerlandje!
Maar serieus: het was natuurlijk te zot voor woorden dat men de Histadroet überhaupt niet had uitgenodigd, en het is zwak dat de AbvaKabo nu beweert dat het allemaal niks met boycots te maken had, terwijl in de uitnodiging stond dat bespoken zou worden "hoe ABVAKABO FNV tegemoet kan komen aan de oproep van Palestijnse collega's van PGFTU waar het sancties, boycot en moreel verantwoord investeren inzake Israëlische producten of dienstverlening betreft".
Maar in Nederland is de vakbond blijkbaar nog voor enige reden vatbaar, of wilde in ieder geval niet zijn contacten met de Histadroet op het spel zetten. En nu maar hopen dat van uitstel afstel komt.


w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m

Last update - 06:46 28/11/2007
Dutch pro-Palestinian conference shelved after Histadrut intervenes
By Cnaan Liphshiz, Haaretz Correspondent

The Netherlands' largest trade union has shelved its plans to hold a Palestinian solidarity conference Thursday, the 60th anniversary of the UN vote on the Partition Plan. Last week's annulment, which ended concerns of a boycott against Israel, came after the Histadrut labor federation insisted it be invited, Haaretz has learned.

"We regret that the planned event upset certain people," ABVAKABO FNV's spokesman said in a statement explaining why the conference was postponed indefinitely. "We don't aim for a boycott against Israeli products and wish to take no political standpoint."

Another spokesman from the union, which has 365,000 members, told Haaretz, "ABVAKABO didn't decide to rule out a boycott call, nor do we intend to do so."

Dr. Ronny Naftaniel, who heads the pro-Zionist Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), said he harbored deep mistrust for the conference. "The involvement of British trade unions and the role of the Dutch Palestine Committee, which is known for its campaign to boycott Israeli goods, would have turned the meeting into an anti-Israel event," he said.

Naftaniel was also concerned about the designated date - exactly 60 years after the United Nations decision that formed the basis for the State of Israel. "Most probably the conference would have ended with resolutions asking for a boycott of Israeli goods and institutions," he added.

Another cause for concern was the fact that the Histadrut was excluded. Anticipating a boycott vote, CIDI asked its members to register for the Rotterdam conference to tip the balance.

A prominent activist working to block the conference said "a lot of silent diplomacy, involving the Histadrut and Minister Isaac Herzog," was involved in the postponement.

Avital Shapira-Shabirow, who heads the Histadrut's international department, confirmed she spoke with ABVAKABO's spokesman about the conference. "I told him the event was counterproductive and that in any event we should have been invited," Shapira-Shabirow said.

vrijdag 30 november 2007

Gezamelijke verklaring Annapolis was kantje boord

Dit is niet bemoedigend voor de vooruitzichten van de verdere onderhandelingen...
Misschien is het iets cultureels, maar tijdens de Oslo onderhandelingen zou Arafat ook steeds weer zijn teruggekomen op eerdere toezeggingen, en aanvullende eisen hebben gesteld nadat er de avond tevoren overeenstemming leek te zijn. Clinton en Barak werden daar gestoord van (zo heb ik gehoord).

Annapolis joint statement was completed with just minutes to spare 

By Avi Issacharoff and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents

The joint Israeli-Palestinian declaration issued at Annapolis on Tuesday was completed less than half an hour beforehand, Israeli and Palestinian sources told Haaretz.

According to the Palestinian sources, yet another round of Israeli-Palestinian talks on the document broke off at midnight on Monday with no results. At that point, Saeb Erekat replaced Ahmed Qureia, the head of the Palestinian negotiating team, and the talks resumed, but still no progress was made.

The next morning, after the parties already had landed in Annapolis, the talks continued. Finally, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas out of a three-way meeting with U.S. President George Bush and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and pressured him to approve the draft document, the sources said. Eventually, he did so, enabling Bush to read it to the conference.

The Israeli sources noted that Bush was clearly pushing for the document: At his three-way meeting with Abbas and Olmert Tuesday morning, they said, the first words out of his mouth were, "What's happening with the joint declaration?"

But the Israelis had a different version of what had happened: They said the Monday night talks with Erekat produced several agreements, but the next morning, the Palestinians changed their mind. That, said the Israelis, already had happened several times during talks on the declaration, but they were shocked that the Palestinians were doing it again at this late date and on such fundamental issues as a timetable for negotiations and reference to the road map peace plan. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who headed the Israeli team, lost her temper and told Qureia to "take it or get lost," the sources said.

As the difficulties mounted, there were also fierce arguments within the Israeli team: Livni very much wanted a joint declaration, but some members of the team said it was "a waste of time," and suggested she forget about it. Olmert, however, sided with Livni, and the Americans' determination tipped the scales.

Israëlische Arabieren vinden dat Abbas geen concessies kan doen

A survey conducted by the Mada-El- Carmel Institute, or the Arab Center for Practical Social Research, found that most Israeli Arabs feel that Palestinian negotiators lack the mandate to make concessions on key issues in peace talks with Israel, including the right of return, the future of Jerusalem, formal recognition of the state of Israel, as well as other territorial concessions.

Interessant: Israëlische Arabieren zien zich enerzijds duidelijk als Palestijnen, anders zouden ze Abbas er niet op bekritiseren dat hij niet namens hen mag spreken, maar ook als burgers van Israël die hun Israëlische staatsburgerschap willen behouden. Ze zijn er ook gepikeerd over dat Abbas hun niet als aparte groep noemde in zijn speech dinsdag, waarin hij wel de Palestijnen in de diaspora expliciet noemde.

Als het aan de Israëlische Arabieren ligt, kan Abbas dus helemaal geen concessies doen of een deal sluiten met Israël. Dit is een ietwat vreemde houding, want zij stemmen niet voor de PA en Abbas is hun dus officiëel geen verantwoording schuldig. Dat ze een stem willen hebben waar het zaken betreft waar zij direct mee te maken hebben, zoals uitruil van gebieden waar Israëlische Arabieren wonen, is logisch. Als zij mee willen kunnen bepalen wie de Palestijnen vertegenwoordigd, moeten ze op de Westoever gaan wonen.
Het geeft toch de indruk dat men van twee walletjes wil eten: Israëlische sociale voorzieningen en vrijheid, en inspraak bij de Palestijnen alsof men een inwoner van Palestijns gebied is.


Israeli Arabs: Abbas lacks mandate to make concessions
Poll conducted by Arab Center for Practical Social Research finds that the majority of Israeli Arabs distrust Palestinian negotiators to settle on core issues in peace talks with Israel; 65.6% of respondents state that negotiators lack the authority to recognize Israel as a sovereign state; staggering 81% of Israeli Arabs say negotiators cannot concede the rights to Jerusalem
Roee Mandel YNET Published: 11.28.07, 21:48 / Israel News,7340,L-3476905,00.html

A poll conducted among Israeli Arabs finds them unwilling to recognize Mahmoud Abbas' authority to negotiate with Israel on their behalf.

A survey conducted by the Mada-El- Carmel Institute, or the Arab Center for Practical Social Research, found that most Israeli Arabs feel that Palestinian negotiators lack the mandate to make concessions on key issues in peace talks with Israel, including the right of return, the future of Jerusalem, formal recognition of the state of Israel, as well as other territorial concessions.

Professor Nadim Ruchana, who conducted the poll, said: "These results essentially imply that Israeli Arabs are telling Abbas and the PA that they have no right to make decisions that impact upon their future."

The poll, consisting of a representative sample of 500 Israeli Arabs, was conducted just as the Annapolis peace summit was at its peak. It focused on key issues that separate the Israeli and Palestinian sides, namely the right of return for Palestinian refugees, formal recognition by Palestinians of the Jewish state, the future of Jerusalem, as well as bilateral territorial exchanges on the part of both parties.

These results indicate that Israeli Arabs clearly do not trust the Palestinian negotiating team in Annapolis, nor find them competent to make concessions on their behalf. 65.6% of respondents stated that the Palestinian Authority lacks the mandate to formally recognize Israel as a Jewish state. A clear majority (79.8%) indicated that negotiators do not have their mandate to concede on the "right of return" for Palestinians refugees. A staggering 81% of Israeli Arabs stated that the Palestinian team in Annapolis did not have their consent to make any concessions regarding Jerusalem.

42.8%: Let the refugees come home

Some 73% of Arab respondents were also unwilling to allow PA negotiators to make bilateral territorial concessions on their behalf. The reasons for this refusal vary; 56.9% of respondents said that: "Such concessions degrade the Palestinians who are treated like pawns in Israeli hands." An additional 62.6% of those polled feared that making such "territorial swaps" would strip them of their rights as Israeli citizens.

Also, 55.7% of Israeli Arabs noted the "atrocious conditions in the territories" as the reason for their refusal, where as an additional 56% maintained that corruption and poor government in the PA make territorial exchanges a bad idea.

On the issue of the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees, the Israeli-Arab voice is clear: 42.8% of respondents said that Palestinian refuges ought to be allowed to return to Israel; 18.5% felt that displaced Palestinians ought to be given a choice between returning to Israel and receiving monetary compensation.

Finally, 6% of Israeli Arabs felt that the solution to the refugee problem ought to be relocation within Arab countries as well as monetary compensation.

Professor Nadim Ruchama, who conducted the poll, explained that these figures are clearly indicative of mistrust for the PA amongst Israeli Arabs.

Clearly, Israeli Arabs feel that the Palestinian Authority does not speak or act on their behalf. "Abbas addressed all the Palestinian populace at Annapolis Tuesday, but deliberately failed to mention the Israeli-Arab contingent," said Ruchana. "This poll clearly indicates that Israeli Arabs do not find Abbas and the PA competent to make decisions on key issues that directly impact upon their futures. They clearly do not trust Abbas to make key concessions on their behalf in the same way that they did Arafat."

Ruchama went on to say that Israeli Arabs are especially fearful of PA recognition of a Jewish state of Israel. "Israeli Arabs are well aware of Israeli apprehensions regarding a 'two-state solution'. At the same time, they fear that the establishment of a Palestinian state and its recognition of the state of Israel would endanger their rights as Israeli citizens," he said.

"The Israeli Arab populace is essentially telling Abbas that he cannot make territorial swaps with Israel, nor can he officially recognize the Jewish state."

*** Balanced Middle East News ***

Kardinaal van Vaticaan steunt recht op terugkeer Palestijnse vluchtelingen

Het Vaticaan is geen vriend van Israël. Men is blijkbaar ook niet deskundig op het gebied van internationaal recht, want er bestaat geen recht op terugkeer van de bevolking van een land naar een staat waartegen men een oorlog is begonnen. De Palestijnen begonnen deze oorlog omdat ze niet in een Joodse staat wilden leven. Dit willen zij nog steeds niet, en men maakt er geen geheim van dat men wel wil terugkeren naar het land waar men ooit had geleefd, maar niet accepteert dan onder Israëlisch bestuur te moeten leven.

The Vatican, which sent a delegation to Annapolis, supports a Palestinian homeland as well Israel's right to exist in security.

Waarom zegt hij niet dat hij het bestaan van een 'Jewish homeland' accepteert? Omdat hij dat niet meent, of zou hij echt zo naief zijn dat hij niet beseft dat het zogenaamde 'recht op terugkeer' hier strijdig mee is?


Vatican cardinal: Palestinians have right to return to homeland
By Reuters Last update - 16:02 28/11/2007

A senior Vatican cardinal said on Wednesday that all Palestinian refugees had a right to return to their homeland.

Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican department that formulates refugee policy, made the comment as U.S. President George W. Bush was set to revive long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks at a White House summit.

"Palestinian refugees, like all other refugees, have a right to right to return to their homeland," Martino said in response to a question about the 44-nation conference in Annapolis on Tuesday.

Martino did not make clear whether he meant refugees had a right to return to homes in what is now Israel or to an eventual Palestinian state.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have pledged to try to forge a peace treaty by the end of 2008 that would create a Palestinian state.

The issue of the return of Palestinian refugees, along with the status of Jerusalem, is one of the most sticky issues in a peace treaty.

There are some 4.5 million Palestinian refugees in camps in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Successive Israeli governments have made clear they will not accept the right of return of Palestinians who left homes in what is now Israel, saying it would threaten the country's existence.

Some ministers have said that some Palestinians might be allowed to settle in Israel on humanitarian grounds if a final peace settlement is reached.

The Vatican, which sent a delegation to Annapolis, supports a Palestinian homeland as well Israel's right to exist in security.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

donderdag 29 november 2007

Dag na Annapolis bestaat Israël nog steeds niet op Palestijnse TV

"Just a day after Israeli and Palestinian leaders at the Annapolis peace conference pledged to negotiate a peace treaty by the end of 2008, Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority continues to paint a picture for its people of a world without Israel.
An information clip produced by the Palestinian Authority Central Bureau of Statistics and rebroadcast today on Abbas-controlled Palestinian television, shows a map in which Israel is painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag, symbolizing Israel turned into a Palestinian state."

Dit is er een voorbeeld van dat de mooie woorden op vredesconferenties vaak ver van de werkelijkheid verwijderd zijn. Tot nu toe won de werkelijkheid; misschien zou Abbas echt kunnen proberen wat te veranderen wat dit betreft, maar dan moet hij daar wel toe aangezet worden. Olmert sprak in zijn speech in het geheel niet van de ophitsing tegen Israël in de Arabische media, en Bush maakte er ook geen punt van, dus hoe kan Abbas weten dat dit een probleem is voor hun?
Wat hij wel weet is dat het voor de extremisten een probleem zal zijn als ze er niet mee door mogen gaan, en zelf vindt hij wellicht ook wel dat de Palestijnen eigenlijk recht hebben op het hele land; hij vindt sowieso dat miljoenen vluchtelingen naar Israël moeten kunnen immigreren en heeft er ook erg veel moeite mee Israël een Joodse staat te noemen.

Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin - Nov. 28, 2007
View this bulletin online

Day after Annapolis:
Palestinian Authority TV shows"Palestine" map erasing Israel
by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
Palestinian Media Watch:
p:+972 2 625 4140e:
f: +972 2 624 2803w:

Just a day after Israeli and Palestinian leaders at the Annapolis peace conference pledged to negotiate a peace treaty by the end of 2008, Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority continues to paint a picture for its people of a world without Israel.
An information clip produced by the Palestinian Authority Central Bureau of Statistics and rebroadcast today on Abbas-controlled Palestinian television, shows a map in which Israel is painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag, symbolizing Israel turned into a Palestinian state.

The description of all of the state of Israel as "Palestine" is not coincidental, and is part of a formal, systematic educational approach throughout the Palestinian Authority. This uniform message of a world without Israel is repeated in school books, children's programs, crossword puzzles, video clips, formal symbols, school and street names, etc. The picture painted for the Palestinian population, both verbally and visually, is of a world without Israel.

The fact that this campaign continues before the ink on the Annapolis agreement is even dry appears to contradict the central promise of the Palestinians at the Annapolis conference: that Israel has a right to exist.

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Dry Bones over Israël, de Verenigde Naties en het delingsplan

De cartoons van Dry Bones zijn doorgaans ter rechterzijde van het politieke spectrum, maar vaak toch zeer treffend. Onderstaande cartoon stamt uit 1975, het jaar waarin de PLO - zonder voorwaarden - als waarnemer werd toegelaten tot de Verenigde Naties, dat toen tevens Palestijnse politieke steuncomité's oprichtte en de beruchte resolutie aannam die Zionisme tot een vorm van racisme verklaarde. En dan nog vragen waarom Israël de VN niet vertrouwt?

The 1947 Partition Plan (1975)

1975 Dry Bones cartoon - Anniversary of the UN partition plan of 1947.
Today's "Golden Oldie" Dry Bones cartoon was done way back in 1975. More than thirty years ago! To mark the 28th anniversary of the 1947 UN two-thirds majority vote for the partition of western Palestine into a Jewish and and Arab state. A plan which was then rejected by the Arab states.

Today, November 29, 2007 is the 60th anniversary of the UN partition plan vote.

My guess is that if they had a time machine and could go back to revisit that fateful decision of theirs, the Arabs would reject it again! The weakness of the fledgling Jewish State being too tempting to resist attacking.

So what's your opinion? What do you think?

woensdag 28 november 2007

Toespraak van George W. Bush op de Annapolis vredesconferentie

De toespraak van de Amerikaanse president Bush op de Annapolis vredesconferentie.
President Bush Remarks at Annapolis Conference

For Immediate Release
Office of the White House Press Secretary
November 27, 2007
President Bush Attends Annapolis Conference
Memorial Hall
United States Naval Academy
Annapolis, Maryland
11:04 A.M. EST

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you for coming. Prime Minister Olmert, President Abbas, Secretary General Ban, former Prime Minister Blair, distinguished guests: Welcome to one of the finest institutes we have in America, the United States Naval Academy. We appreciate you joining us in what I believe is an historic opportunity to encourage the expansion of freedom and peace in the Holy Land.

We meet to lay the foundation for the establishment of a new nation -- a democratic Palestinian state that will live side by side with Israel in peace and security. We meet to help bring an end to the violence that has been the true enemy of the aspirations of both the Israelis and Palestinians.

We're off to a strong start. I'm about to read a statement that was agreed upon by our distinguished guests:

The representatives of the government of the state of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, represented respective by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and President Mahmoud Abbas in his capacity as Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee and President of the Palestinian Authority, have convened in Annapolis, Maryland, under the auspices of President George W. Bush of the United States of America, and with the support of the participants of this international conference, having concluded the following joint understanding.

We express our determination to bring an end to bloodshed, suffering and decades of conflict between our peoples; to usher in a new era of peace, based on freedom, security, justice, dignity, respect and mutual recognition; to propagate a culture of peace and nonviolence; to confront terrorism and incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis. In furtherance of the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security, we agree to immediately launch good-faith bilateral negotiations in order to conclude a peace treaty, resolving all outstanding issues, including all core issues, without exception, as specified in previous agreements.

We agree to engage in vigorous, ongoing and continuous negotiations, and shall make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008. For this purpose, a steering committee, led jointly by the head of the delegation of each party, will meet continuously, as agreed. The steering committee will develop a joint work plan and establish and oversee the work of negotiations teams to address all issues, to be headed by one lead representative from each party. The first session of the steering committee will be held on 12 December 2007.

President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert will continue to meet on a bi-weekly basis to follow up the negotiations in order to offer all necessary assistance for their advancement.

The parties also commit to immediately implement their respective obligations under the performance-based road map to a permanent two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, issued by the Quartet on 30 April 2003 -- this is called the road map -- and agree to form an American, Palestinian and Israeli mechanism, led by the United States, to follow up on the implementation of the road map.

The parties further commit to continue the implementation of the ongoing obligations of the road map until they reach a peace treaty. The United States will monitor and judge the fulfillment of the commitment of both sides of the road map. Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, implementation of the future peace treaty will be subject to the implementation of the road map, as judged by the United States.

Congratulations for your strong leadership.

The Palestinian people are blessed with many gifts and talents. They want the opportunity to use those gifts to better their own lives and build a better future for their children. They want the dignity that comes with sovereignty and independence. They want justice and equality under the rule of law. They want freedom from violence and fear.

The people of Israel have just aspirations, as well. They want their children to be able to ride a bus or to go to school without fear of suicide bombers. They want an end to rocket attacks and constant threats of assault. They want their nation to be recognized and welcomed in the region where they live.

Today, Palestinians and Israelis each understand that helping the other to realize their aspirations is key to realizing their own aspirations -- and both require an independent, democratic, viable Palestinian state. Such a state will provide Palestinians with the chance to lead lives of freedom and purpose and dignity. Such a state will help provide the Israelis with something they have been seeking for generations: to live in peace with their neighbors.

Achieving this goal is not going to be easy -- if it were easy, it would have happened a long time ago. To achieve freedom and peace, both Israelis and Palestinians will have to make tough choices. Both sides are sober about the work ahead, but having spent time with their leaders, they are ready to take on the tough issues. As Prime Minister Olmert recently put it, "We will avoid none of [the historic questions], we will not run from discussing any of them." As President Abbas has said: "I believe that there is an opportunity not only for us but for the Israelis, too. We have a historic and important opportunity that we must benefit from." It is with that spirit that we concluded -- that they concluded this statement I just read.

Our purpose here in Annapolis is not to conclude an agreement. Rather, it is to launch negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. For the rest of us, our job is to encourage the parties in this effort -- and to give them the support they need to succeed.

In light of recent developments, some have suggested that now is not the right time to pursue peace. I disagree. I believe now is precisely the right time to begin these negotiations -- for a number of reasons:

First, the time is right because Palestinians and Israelis have leaders who are determined to achieve peace. President Abbas seeks to fulfill his people's aspirations for statehood, dignity and security. President Abbas understands that a Palestinian state will not be born of terror, and that terrorism is the enemy standing in the way of a state. He and Prime Minister Fayyad have both declared, without hesitation, that they are opposed to terrorism and committed to peace. They're committed to turning these declarations into actions on the ground to combat terror.

The emergence of responsible Palestinian leaders has given Israeli leaders the confidence they need to reach out to the Palestinians in true partnership. Prime Minister Olmert has expressed his understanding of the suffering and indignities felt by the Palestinian people. He's made clear that the security of Israel will be enhanced by the establishment of a responsible, democratic Palestinian state. With leaders of courage and conviction on both sides, now is the time to come together and seek the peace that both sides desire.

Second, the time is right because a battle is underway for the future of the Middle East -- and we must not cede victory to the extremists. With their violent actions and contempt for human life, the extremists are seeking to impose a dark vision on the Palestinian people -- a vision that feeds on hopelessness and despair to sow chaos in the Holy Land. If this vision prevails, the future of the region will be endless terror, endless war, and endless suffering.

Standing against this dark vision are President Abbas and his government. They are offering the Palestinian people an alternative vision for the future -- a vision of peace, a homeland of their own, and a better life. If responsible Palestinian leaders can deliver on this vision, they will deal the forces of extremism a devastating blow. And when liberty takes root in Iraqi soil of the West Bank and Gaza, it will inspire millions across the Middle East who want their societies built on freedom and peace and hope.

By contrast, if Palestinian reformers cannot deliver on this hopeful vision, then the forces of extremism and terror will be strengthened, a generation of Palestinians could be lost to the extremists, and the Middle East will grow in despair. We cannot allow this to happen. Now is the time to show Palestinians that their dream of a free and independent state can be achieved at the table of peace -- and that the terror and violence preached by Palestinian extremists is the greatest obstacle to a Palestinian state.

Third, the time is right because the world understands the urgency of supporting these negotiations. We appreciate that representatives from so many governments and international institutions have come to join us here in Annapolis -- especially the Arab world. We're here because we recognize what is at stake. We are here because we each have a vital role to play in helping Palestinians forge the institutions of a free society. We're here because we understand that the success of these efforts to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians will have an impact far beyond the Holy Land.

These are the reasons we've gathered here in Annapolis. And now we begin the difficult work of freedom and peace. The United States is proud to host this meeting -- and we reaffirm the path to peace set out in the road map. Yet in the end, the outcome of the negotiations they launch here depends on the Israelis and Palestinians themselves. America will do everything in our power to support their quest for peace, but we cannot achieve it for them. The success of these efforts will require that all parties show patience and flexibility -- and meet their responsibilities.

For these negotiations to succeed, the Palestinians must do their part. They must show the world they understand that while the borders of a Palestinian state are important, the nature of a Palestinian state is just as important. They must demonstrate that a Palestinian state will create opportunity for all its citizens, and govern justly, and dismantle the infrastructure of terror. They must show that a Palestinian state will accept its responsibility, and have the capability to be a source of stability and peace -- for its own citizens, for the people of Israel, and for the whole region.

The Israelis must do their part. They must show the world that they are ready to begin -- to bring an end to the occupation that began in 1967 through a negotiated settlement. This settlement will establish Palestine as a Palestinian homeland, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people. Israel must demonstrate its support for the creation of a prosperous and successful Palestinian state by removing unauthorized outposts, ending settlement expansion, and finding other ways for the Palestinian Authority to exercise its responsibilities without compromising Israel's security.

Arab states also have a vital role to play. Relaunching the Arab League initiative and the Arab League's support for today's conference are positive steps. All Arab states should show their strong support for the government of President Abbas -- and provide needed assistance to the Palestinian Authority. Arab states should also reach out to Israel, work toward the normalization of relations, and demonstrate in both word and deed that they believe that Israel and its people have a permanent home in the Middle East. These are vital steps toward the comprehensive peace that we all seek.

Finally, the international community has important responsibilities. Prime Minister Fayyad is finalizing a plan to increase openness and transparency and accountability throughout Palestinian society -- and he needs the resources and support from the international community. With strong backing from those gathered here, the Palestinian government can build the free institutions that will support a free Palestinian state.

The United States will help Palestinian leaders build these free institutions -- and the United States will keep its commitment to the security of Israel as a Jewish state and homeland for the Jewish people.

The United States strongly feels that these efforts will yield the peace that we want -- and that is why we will continue to support the Lebanese people. We believe democracy brings peace. And democracy in Lebanon is vital, as well, for the peace in the Middle East. Lebanese people are in the process of electing a president. That decision is for the Lebanese people to make -- and they must be able to do so free from outside interference and intimidation. As they embark on this process, the people of Lebanon can know that the American people stand with them -- and we look forward to the day when the people of Lebanon can enjoy the blessings of liberty without fear of violence or coercion.

The task begun here at Annapolis will be difficult. This is the beginning of the process, not the end of it -- and no doubt a lot of work remains to be done. Yet the parties can approach this work with confidence. The time is right. The cause is just. And with hard effort, I know they can succeed.

President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert, I pledge to devote my effort during my time as President to do all I can to help you achieve this ambitious goal. I give you my personal commitment to support your work with the resources and resolve of the American government. I believe a day is coming when freedom will yield the peace we desire. And the land that is holy to so many will see the light of peace.

The day is coming when Palestinians will enjoy the blessings that freedom brings -- and all Israelis will enjoy the security they deserve. That day is coming. The day is coming when the terrorists and extremists who threaten the Israeli and Palestinian people will be marginalized and eventually defeated. And when that day comes, future generations will look to the work we began here at Annapolis. They will give thanks to the leaders who gathered on the banks of the Chesapeake for their vision, their wisdom and courage to choose a future of freedom and peace.

Thanks for coming. May God bless their work.

Toespraak van Ehud Olmert op de Annapolis vredesconferentie

De toespraak van de Israëlische premier Olmert op de Annapolis vredesconferentie.

Israel Government Press Office Tuesday, 27 November, 2007

Address by Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert at the International Meeting in Annapolis
November 27, 2007

(Translated from Hebrew)

The Honorable President of the United States, George Bush,
My colleague, President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas,
Heads of delegations,
Distinguished guests,

I came here today from Jerusalem at your invitation, Honorable President, to extend, on behalf of the people of Israel and the State of Israel, a hand in peace to the Palestinian people and to our neighboring Arab states, many of whose representatives are here with us in Annapolis.

I had many good reasons to refrain from coming to this meeting.

The memory of the failures of the near and distant past weighs heavy on us. The dreadful terrorism perpetrated by Palestinian terrorist organizations has affected thousands of Israeli citizens, destroyed families and attempted to disrupt the lives of all the citizens of Israel. I witnessed it personally during my term as Mayor of Jerusalem, at times of bombings at cafes, buses and recreational centers in Jerusalem and other cities in the State of Israel

The continued shooting of Qassam rockets against tens of thousands of residents in the south of Israel, particularly in the city of Sderot, serves as a warning sign - one which cannot be overlooked. The absence of governmental institutes and effective law-enforcement mechanisms, the rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the ongoing activity of murderous organizations throughout all the territories of the Palestinian Authority, the absence of a legal system which meets the basic criteria of a democratic government - all these are factors which deter us from moving forward too hastily.

I do not ignore all the obstacles which are sure to emerge along the way. They are right in front of me. I came here, despite the concerns and doubts and hesitations, to say to you, President Mahmoud Abbas, and through you, to your people and to the entire Arab world: it is time. We no longer, and you no longer, have the privilege of clinging to dreams which are disconnected from the sufferings of our peoples, the hardships they experience daily and the burden of living under ongoing uncertainty, with no chance for change or hope.

We want peace. We demand an end to terror, incitement and hatred. We are willing to make a painful compromise, rife with risks, in order to realize these aspirations.

I came here today not to settle historic accounts between us on what caused the conflict and hatred and what, for many years, stood in the way of compromise and peace.

I wish to say, from the bottom of my heart, that I know and acknowledge the fact that alongside the constant suffering which many in Israel have experienced because of the history, the wars, the terror and the hatred towards us - a suffering which has always been part of our lives in our land - your people have also suffered for many years, and some still suffer.

For dozens of years, many Palestinians have been living in camps, disconnected from the environment in which they grew, wallowing in poverty, neglect, alienation, bitterness, and a deep, unrelenting sense of deprivation.

I know that this pain and deprivation is one of the deepest foundations which fomented the ethos of hatred towards us.

We are not indifferent to this suffering. We are not oblivious to the tragedies you have experienced. I believe that in the course of negotiations between us we will find the right way, as part of an international effort in which we will participate, to assist these Palestinians in finding a proper framework for their future, in the Palestinian state which will be established in the territories agreed upon between us. Israel will be part of an international mechanism which will assist in finding a solution to this problem.

The negotiations between us will not be here in Annapolis, but rather in our home and in yours. It will be bilateral, direct, ongoing and continuous, in an effort to complete it during the course of 2008.

It will address all the issues which have thus far been evaded. We will do it directly, openly and courageously. We will not avoid any subject, we will deal with all the core issues. I have no doubt that the reality created in our region in 1967 will change significantly. While this will be an extremely difficult process for many of us, it is nevertheless inevitable. I know it. Many of my people know it. We are ready for it.

The negotiations will be based on previous agreements between us, UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the Roadmap and the April 14th 2004 letter of President Bush to the Prime Minister of Israel.

On conclusion of the negotiations, I believe that we will be able to reach an agreement which will fulfill the vision of President Bush: two states for two peoples.

A peace-seeking, viable, strong, democratic and terror-free Palestinian state for the Palestinian people.

A Jewish, democratic State of Israel, living in security and free from the threat of terror - the national home of the Jewish people.

It is clear that the implementation of an agreement will be subject to the implementation of all obligations in the Roadmap, on all its phases and according to its sequence, as concluded between us from the very beginning. WE will abide by all our obligations, and so will you.

The agreement with you and its gradual implementation, cautiously and responsibly, is part of a much wider complex, which will lead us, hopefully, to peace with all the Arab states. There is not a single Arab state in the north, east or south with which we do not seek peace. There is no Muslim state with which we do not want to establish diplomatic relations. Anyone who wants peace with us, we say to them, from the bottom of our hearts: welcome!

I am pleased to see here, in this hall, representatives of Arab countries, most of which do not have relations with Israel, The time has come for you as well. You cannot continue to stand by indefinitely and watch the peace train go by. It is time to end the boycott and alienation towards the State of Israel. It is not helpful for you, and it hurts us. I am familiar with the Arab peace initiative, which was born in Riyadh, affirmed in Beirut and recently reaffirmed by you in Riyadh. I value this initiative, acknowledge its importance and highly appreciate its contribution. I have no doubt that it will be referred to in the course of the negotiations between us and the Palestinian leadership.

The Arab world represented here by many countries is a vital component in creating a new reality in the Middle East.

The peace signed between Israel and Egypt, and subsequently between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is a solid foundation of stability and hope in our region. This peace is an example and a model of the relations which we can build with Arab states.

My close relations with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan are extremely significant fro the process of building trust and understanding with the Arab states.

However, these relations, as important as they may be, are not enough. We aspire for normalization with those Arab states which eschew, as much as we do, radical and frantic fundamentalism, and which seek to grant their citizens a more moderate, tolerant and prosperous world.

This is a common interest of all of us. There is a lot which separates us - memories and a heritage which do not emanate from the same historic roots, different ways of living, different customs, and our emotional, spontaneous sense of solidarity with our neighboring Arab countries, which have long been trapped in this age-old bloody conflict between us.

However, there is also a lot which brings us together. You, like us, know that religious fanaticism and national extremism are a perfect recipe for domestic instability, violence, bitterness and ultimately the disintegration of the very foundations of coexistence which is based on tolerance and mutual acceptance.

We are a tiny country with a small population, but rich in good will and with a significant ability to create a partnership which will lead to prosperity, growth, economic development and stability for the entire region.

The prospect of a new political horizon, and renewed hope, not only for Palestinians and Israelis, but also, together with you, for the entire region, can come from here, from Annapolis.

Honorable President of the United States, my colleague Mahmoud Abbas, distinguished guests,

Almost two years ago, under very sad circumstances, Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon was no longer able to carry the heavy responsibility of leading the State of Israel, and this responsibility was passed on to me - first, as a result of formal procedures and subsequently on the basis of an election in Israel's democratic system of government.

Prior to my election I stated that my heart's desire and that of my people, was to achieve peace, primarily with the Palestinian people. This is what I believed then and it is what I continue to believe in now, with all my heart.

The past two years have been difficult for all of us. The hardships have not been alleviated, the terror organizations have not weakened, the enemies of peace have not disappeared, and we are still anxiously awaiting the return of our missing and captive sons who are held by terror organizations. I long for the day when I can see Gilad, Eldad and Udi back with their families, and I will not falter in my efforts to achieve their release.

I believe that there is no path other than peace. I believe that there is no just solution other than the solution of two national states for two peoples. I believe that there is no path which does not involve painful compromise for you, Palestinians, and for us Israelis. I want to thank you, President George Bush, an ally in the path of peace, for your willingness to assist in the historic process of peace and reconciliation between us and our neighbors.

I believe it is time. We are ready. I invite you, my friend Mahmoud Abbas, and your people, to join us in this long, tormenting and complex path, for which there is no substitute.

Together we will start. Together we will arrive.

Toespraak van Mahmoud Abbas op de Annapolis vredesconferentie

De toespraak van de Palestijnse president Abbas op de Annapolis vredesconferentie (beduidend langer dan de gemeenschappelijke verklaring).

Abbas Addresses the Annapolis Conference

CQ Transcripts Wire
Tuesday, November 27, 2007; 12:19 PM


In the name of God, the compassionate, (SPEAKING IN ARABIC) with great hope, but it is accompanied with great worry that this new opportunity might be lost.

But the meanings of your message are well known and they carry your personal bridge and commitment by your great country and its determination to embrace the Palestinian and Israeli peace and the Arab-Israeli peace to be converted in the arena of negotiations to be the first and foremost arena for making peace.

And that this initiative would culminate your term of office is an outstanding achievement which would add a new shining star in the skies of the world, the world of the future free of violence, oppression and bigotry.

And also we would like to applaud you, Mr. President, for choosing this charming city, Annapolis, as a venue for convening this international conference.
In addition to its beauty and distinctive location, it bears the symbol of freedom; the most sublime value in our life.

"Freedom" is the single word that stands for the future of the Palestinians and captures the meanings of all their generations. It is their sunshine and it is the life that inspires their future. It is the last word voiced by the martyrs and victims, and it is the lyric (ph) of their prisoners.

I must also pay tribute to the role played by Dr. Condoleezza Rice and her aides. For without here relentless resolve and determination and her vision vis-a-vis all aspects of conflict in our region, we would not have been convening here.

Dr. Rice took important strides with us in order to affirm that the path of peace is the only choice and it is irreversible. And that the path to negotiations for peace and to achieve peace is the right path.

It is important for me to indicate here that this distinguished participation and large participation from sister Arab and Islamic countries, the quartet, and the group of great industrial countries, and the permanent members of the Security Council of the United Nations, and many prominent European and Asian countries, as well as non-aligned countries and African states and from South America, in a unique conference in the history of the conflicts would provide impetus and protection, in addition to the fact that it carries the meanings of encouragement to pursue the path of Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations and move that forward and the need to reach the solution of two states, based on ending occupation and the establishment of the state of Palestine side by side to the state of Israel, and the resolution of all issues relating to the Palestinian- Israeli conflict, Arab-Israeli conflict in all their aspects, as an indispensable qualitative step, so that comprehensive and normal peace relations would be established in our region.

I am proud that this Arab and Islamic contribution and this broad international that this Arab and Islamic contribution and this broad international participation in the work of this conference is a testimony to the fact that sister and friendly states are standing by us, the people of Palestine, as a leadership, and for our efforts to achieve peace.

It is a support of our approach that calls for a balanced historical settlement that would ensure peace and security for our independent state and for Israel, as well as for all countries in the region.

This Arab and Islamic participation in today's meeting is also an affirmation that the Arab peace initiative was not a step without well-defined targets, but indeed it was a bold strategic plan that aims changing the nature of relations in the region and to usher in a new era there.

But to achieve that does not depend on the Arab and Islamic position by itself, but requires meeting this position by a reciprocal strategic willingness that would basically lead to ending the occupation of all Palestinian occupied territories in 1967, including East Jerusalem, as well as the Syrian Golan and what remains of occupied from Lebanese territories, and to resolve all other issues relating to the conflict, especially the Palestinian refugees question in all its political, humanitarian, individual and common aspects, consistent with Resolution 194, as emphasized by the Arab peace initiative and the participation of sister states that host refugees and carry huge burdens in this regard.

I am not making an overstatement, Mr. President, if I say that our region stands at a crossroad that separates two historical phases, pre-Annapolis phase and post-Annapolis phase.

In other words, this extraordinary huge opportunity provided today by the Arab, Islamic and international position, and the overwhelming support from the public opinion in both the Palestinian and Israeli societies for the need to exploit the occasion of this conference that would launch the negotiating process and not to do away with the potential that it carries, I say that this opportunity might not be repeated. And if it were to be repeated, it might not enjoy the same unanimity and impetus.

Mr. President, what we are facing today is not just the challenge of peace, but we are facing a test of our credibility as a whole: the United States, members of the quartet, and all members of the international community, Israel, the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, the Arab and Islamic group, as well.

It is a test that would leave its indelible impact on the future of the region and on the relationship among its peoples and the international powers that are entrusted in the peace, stability of our region on the other hand.

We came with this perspective to Annapolis today. And, therefore, we do recognize the volume of this possibility that we are bearing and the gravity of the burden that we must shoulder.

We do recognize, and I presume that you share me this view, that the absence of hope and overwhelming despair would feed extremism. Therefore, we have a common duty to spread genuine hope in order to achieve full transformation toward complete peace (inaudible) and long term during your term of office, Mr. President, thanks to your support and understanding.

Tomorrow, we have to start comprehensive and deep negotiations on all issues of final status, including Jerusalem, refugees, borders, settlements, water and security and others.

We have to support this negotiating process in concrete and direct steps on the ground that would prove that we are moving in an irreversible path toward negotiated, comprehensive and full peace, and to ensure ending all settlement activities, including natural growth, and reopening closed Jerusalem institutions, removal of settlement outposts, removal of road blocks, and freedom of prisoners, and to facilitate our mission in the authority to enforce law and the rule of law.
Here, I must defend in all sincerity and candor, and without wavering, the right of our people to see a new dawn, without occupation, without settlement, without separation walls, without prisons where thousands of prisoners are detained, without assassinations, without siege, without barriers around villages and (inaudible).

I look forward, Mr. President, to see that our prisoners have been set free and returned to exercise their role in supporting peace and to stand by us in our mission to build our statehood and our homeland.

It is my duty to say that, to have peace, we need the fate of the city of Jerusalem to be a critical component in any peace accord that we might reach.

We need East Jerusalem to be our capital and to establish open relations with western Jerusalem, and to ensure for all the faithful from all religions their right to exercise their rituals and to access holy shrines without any discrimination and on the basis of international and humanitarian goals.

In this regard, I wish to emphasize that we shall pursue our obligations under the road map, in order to combat chaos, violence, terrorism, and to ensure security, order and the rule of law.

The government of the Palestinian National Authority works tirelessly and without any wavering under extremely conditions to achieve this noble goal that represents, first and foremost, a Palestinian national interest before it becomes a political requirement that is imposed by signed accords or the road map.
Our people distinguish completely between emphasis on the danger of terrorism and using it as a pretext to maintain the status quo and to pursue the current practices that we suffer from every day.

There must be a chance given to us to build our civilian security and economic institutions.

And the international community must sponsor this opportunity so that our authority and our government would fully fulfill their mandates.

I must emphasize that our determination to end occupation emanates from our vision that we would remove the most important reasons for terrorism in our region and worldwide without underestimating the need to fight terrorism under all circumstances and from any source. Because it is a comprehensive threat that threatens the future of every people and imperils human civilization, its gains and achievements, and brings dire consequences on all of us.

Here, I must applaud the tireless efforts undertaken by Mr. Tony Blair, who continues to work in order to build and enhance building Palestinian institutions and to complete great projects at the economic level in order to improve the living conditions and the terms of peace. And in that endeavor, he continues to submit very constructive ideas.

And I wish to pay tribute to the role of the European Union, Japan and our Arab brothers who made commitments to support these economic projects and building the future Palestinian state institutions.

Mr. President, I would like to take this opportunity to address the mind and conscience of every citizen in Israel from this rostrum.

I'm speaking on the basis for our recognition that, despite the importance of international and regional support for the success of the peace process, but the most determining factor for the making peace and stability and its sustainability at the end of the day is the public opinion in Palestine, Israel and their legitimate leaders.

I start by saying that, despite our disagreements on critical issues, but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert showed desire for peace that I have perceived during our bilateral discussions, and that genuinely contributed to reach this important step for which we are meeting today in order to launch.

Mr. Prime Minister, I wish that we, together, continue and closely work in order to achieve a historical mission that we have waited for too long.

Each one of us must pitch in our weight and experience and sense of resolve in order to overcome the obstacles that we will face and to close the gaps between our positions in a bid to achieve a solution that would end occupation and the long years of suffering of the refugees and ensure good neighbor relations, economic cooperation, humanitarian openness so that all of them would ensure guarantees for peace that are stronger than any documents, commitments or pledges, despite the importance of these all.

I say to the citizens of Israel, in this extraordinary day, you, our neighbors on this small land, neither us nor you are begging for peace from each other. It is a common interest for us and for you.

Peace and freedom is a right to us, in as much as peace and security is a right for you and for us.

Time has come for the cycle of blood, violence and occupation to come to an end. Time has come that both of us should look at the future with confidence and hope, and that this long-suffering land, which was called the land of love and peace, would not be worth of its own name.

Peace is not impossible to achieve if there was will and good faith and every party got its legitimate right.

Those who say that peace-making between us is impossible, actually does not need except to perpetuate this conflict toward the unknown, but it is, we all know, in other words, that continuation of bloodshed for many decades to come. After that, we would not reach the solution proposed today, all of which we know, all its components and elements. Or the ideal of peace would be killed in the hearts and minds.

Indeed, peace is possible but it requires our common efforts so that we could make it and preserve it.

And on this day we stretch our hands to you as equal partners in peace. The whole world is our witness and the world as a whole is supporting us.

Therefore, we should not lose this opportunity which might not be available once again. Let us make a peace with a brave (ph) and protect that peace in the interest of the future of our children and your children.

To our friends across the globe, members of the international quartet, and all participants in this conference, powers and states outside this conference who have been and continue to lend support for us, I say to all of you that our people will never, ever forget your support for it under all circumstances and under our most difficult times.

We look forward that your political presence will continue to be with us after this conference, in order to support Palestinian-Israeli negotiations with a view to reach the desired results.

We all hope that the work of this conference would be supported by the success of the Paris economic conference to be held after a few weeks.

The continuation and success of negotiations would be the real key to change the face of the entire region.

Allah, the Lord, said in the Koran, in the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful, all you who believe, enter into peace, all of you, don't follow the steps of Satan.

Satan is your obvious enemy."

The Lord also said, "If they move toward peace, then you should move to peace and have faith in the Lord, because God, the Lord, will listen and support that effort."

And on this occasion, may I record here, as we are here in the United States of America, the words of former United States President John F. Kennedy, who said, quote, "Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate," end of quotation.

To our Palestinian people, to all Palestinians in Gaza, Jerusalem, the West Bank, and in refugee camps and the diaspora, may I address these words?

I do recognize that each one of you has his or her personal pain, personal tragedy as a result of this conflict and as a result of the years of tragedy and occupation. These are very bitter years.

Don't be depressed, Don't lose confidence and hope, For the whole world today now is stretching its hand toward us in order to help us put an end to our tragedy, to our holocaust that has been running for too long, and to lift the historical injustice that our people suffer.

And we shall be ready as individuals and as a people to overcome pain and the tragedy when we reach a settlement that would ensure our rights, that would make us equal with all other peoples in the whole world: the right to independence and self-determination.

To the Palestinian mothers who are awaiting the return of their children from prisons, to the Palestinian children who are dreaming of a new life, a better future -- more prosperous, more safe future, to our brave prisoners -- my sisters, brothers, children -- wherever you are, have confidence in the future and tomorrow, because future Palestine is coming, because this is the promise of the whole world to you.

Be confident that the dawn is coming.

To my people and relatives in the Gaza Strip, you are at the core of my heart. The hours of darkness will end in the face of your resolve and determination. For your insistence on the unity of our people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as one geographical political unit without any divergence, your suffering will end. Right and peace will prevail.

May I close by recalling some words of Abraham Lincoln in one of the darkest moments of American history? Quote, "Let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations," end of quotation.

We started with peace and I end on a note of peace and we hope that peace would prevail. Peace be upon all of you.