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From Afif Safieh Palestinian General Delegate to the United Kingdom and to the Holy See www.palestinianuk.org

Speech of President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen)

General Delegation Statement of President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) London Meeting 1st March 2005

Prime Minister, Tony Blair, Your excellencies, heads of the delegations, Ladies and gentlemen.

I would like to begin by extending my gratitude to Prime Minister Tony Blair for the efforts he made to convene this Meeting, which is an important link in the chain of ongoing efforts to revive the peace process.

The convening of this Meeting has raised many questions as to its nature. There have also been many explanations regarding what the Meeting is not about. Yet, and since the beginning, we had no doubts about the basic premise that prompted our friend Tony Blair to convene this Meeting. The premise of this Meeting is to respond to the needs of all of us here to create an environment conducive to initiating political processes that will put an end to the violence and counter violence which have but resulted in an undermining of possibilities for a true peace. Therefore, we welcomed this meeting, and viewed it with utmost seriousness, as an opportunity to discuss with our brethren and friends in the international community what is needed to create this environment, including the provision of sufficient political, economic and security support for the PA.

As for us, I would like to stress that we as Palestinians are forging ahead with reordering our internal affairs and are committed to honoring our obligations under the Road Map. The Road Map is the only plan that has a realistic prospect for implementation. And with regards to the Road Map, we have only one demand, that our implementation efforts be mirrored by Israel's true implementation of the provisions of the Road Map as presented by the Quartet.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
In a short time frame we have managed to accomplish a great deal in the highly complex process of internal reforms. After the calm and constitutional transition of authority following the painful absence of the late President Yaser Arafat, we have successfully completed the presidential elections, are moving forward with completing the elections for the local councils and have announced the coming July as the date for the legislative council elections. This proves that democratic values are innate to the Palestinian society in both their consciousness and their behavior. The prevalence of these values confirms that the Palestinian people can build an independent state that is rooted in democracy and plurality and governed by institutions which function according to the rule of modern laws and an effective and independent judiciary. These values also form the basis of our vision regarding governance, administration and reform, as detailed in the Meeting's documents and expressed by us in other fora. Realizing the difficulties of creating a state, we have long since commenced building its infrastructure in order to ensure that our state is a qualitative addition to the political map in the Middle East and the World.

Mr. Prime Minister,
Dear Friends,
I believe that the Palestinian people, as well as its National Authority, have sent very important messages to the world, and specifically to our Israeli neighbors, which merit serious consideration and engagement. The most important of these messages is our sincere preparedness to exert 100% effort in the domain of security. To that end, we deployed our troops on the ground and we took a final decision concerning the consolidation of the security agencies according to the basic law. We continue to implement this decision, which also includes eliminating multiple lines of authority and reinforcing political plurality. We are doing this despite the difficulties that you are well aware of, given your deep knowledge of the situation in our country. In furtherance of our efforts, we participated in the Sharm il Sheikh summit, which embodied an important stage on the road to resuming political dialogue after a long hiatus.

A few days ago, Israeli civilians were targeted in a suicide attack in Tel Aviv. We reaffirm our strong condemnation of this attack and for this approach. This again demonstrates that the extremist forces still insist on destroying any efforts at a peace process, negotiations and resolving the conflict by peaceful means. Such forces reject the democratic approach, which we as Palestinians insist on reinforcing as attested by the fact that all Palestinian factions have denied responsibility for this attack and reaffirmed their commitment to the cease-fire.

I, my dear friends, fully believe that our security efforts do serve the pressing needs of the Palestinian people who are thirsty for safety and security. Yet at the same time, security is vulnerable to regression and even collapse if it is not protected by a serious political process between us and the Israelis, the delay of which is unjustified. Experience has taught us that security measures in the absence of a serious political framework will not lead to the consolidation of security and opening of horizons for peace. When I refer to a serious political process, I mean a process that gives the Palestinian people confidence that the occupation that began in 1967 will end without delay. This is the goal that we need to strive for with you and with Israel to achieve. Creating such confidence requires that the manifestation of such occupation - the construction of settlements, the Wall and land confiscation - immediately come to a complete end. And in this context, I would like to express our deep appreciation for the position expressed by President Bush recently in Brussels, which is consistent with his vision of ending the occupation which began in 1967 and the emergence of an independent, viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with our neighbor Israel. And here in London, I would like to stress the importance of active interaction on the part of our Israeli counterparts with us on all issues that are discussed at this Meeting, even though they are not represented here today. I would like to also emphasize the need for Israel to expedite the implementation of positive steps that are necessary to create a conducive environment, steps which were initiated before and during the Sharm il Sheikh meeting, and which will lead to the creation of the favorable environment which I referred to at the beginning of my statement.

I do not view this Meeting as a platform to raise complaints or blame of any kind. I see it instead as an important opportunity to garner serious support for our collective pursuit of peace. I view this Meeting as a step towards laying the foundations for real support to the Palestinian people, who have suffered for the past four years, and who are in dire need to rebuild all that has been destroyed. And now I would like to thank our Arab brethren who continue to support us in a way that has strengthened our people's resolve and national unity. I trust that they will not hesitate to continue to respond to our basic needs especially in this sensitive period of time when all kinds of support are critical.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you all: the United Nations, the United States of America, the European Union and the Russian Federation, who together form the Quartet, whose role has been pivotal and effective in designing and launching the Road Map. I expect that the Quartet will continue playing an active role in ensuring the timely and effective implementation of all its provisions.

I would also like to thank our friends of the G8, the whole donor community and the various international financial institutions including the World Bank and the IMF - those present with us here today as well as those not party to this meeting.

Once more, I would like to share my appreciation to the United Kingdom and my friend Tony Blair, for their supportive efforts and for the clarity of his positions. I trust that this Meeting will support and lead to the convening of the International Conference called for in the Road Map, to discuss, based on international legitimacy, the resolution of all permanent status issues including: Refugees, Jerusalem, Borders, Water and Settlements, as well as all other issues pertaining to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Finally, after years of facing the Wall of despair, I say that peace is now possible. The peace that has become a need for the Palestinian people, the Israeli people and the international community alike is now possible. This peace is only possible if we earnestly seek it and if we are successful in having it build on the strong and enduring principle of justice.

Thank you


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