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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Arafat Addresses Mideast Conflict

Aired December 16, 2001 - 10:58   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: We are awaiting a very important speech by the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. We're told it was taped some six hours ago, but it will played very shortly. And we will bring that to you as it comes down -- as a matter of fact, I'm seeing it right now.

Here is Yasser Arafat addressing his nation and the world.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YASSER ARAFAT, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT (through translator): My brothers, sisters, children of the Palestinian people, the invincible people of Palestine, mothers of martyrs, fathers, their brothers, those who have given the best we have, our children, on the road to freedom, the road to Palestine and to Jerusalem, and Haram al-Sharif, in addition to armies of prisoners, the wounded and detainees.

Through your steadfastness and wounds and injuries and pains and hopes, you have marked a story of heroism in this century and in this world, until we have all become, by God's help, one or two steps away from Jerusalem, Haram al-Sharif, the capital of our Palestinian state, independent Palestinian state.

My dear brothers in cities, villages and refugee camps in Palestine and in exile, to you, the makers of this national heroism, the tree of steadfastness, you're the ones who, for most all of everybody else, maintained and protected our national cause and protected our just and legitimate aspirations and rights, and made sure to get all the guarantees that would be capable of achieving our rights, I would like to extend my wishes to all of you on the Ramadan feast.

On this holy occasion, I would like to address you heart to heart, from my heart to your heart, my mind to your mind, about the bright facts, to let you know of what is going on, so that we all together can think of what is going on, so that we can all coordinate together our future steps.

And I am definitely sure that this people, the invincible people of Palestine, has the accurate concept and understanding and a strong will and steadfastness that would allow him to overpass all the difficulties and the impossible in order to protect their rights and their holy shrines, both Muslim and Christian. The victory of our people is inevitable. Our victory on our free land, our blessed land, land of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the land where Prophet Mohammed ascended and the cradle of activity of Jesus Christ.

Our national unity is the firm, the solid foundation where we stand; the solid ground that has kept our struggle throughout centuries indicates toward the choice of peace, the durable, just and comprehensive peace, in order to safeguard our successful march toward national consensus without any concessions or submission.

We've always been right in our decision and our practice. And in my capacity and on behalf of the Palestinian leadership, we will reiterate our understanding, deep understanding of national unity being the unity of all factions and national forces and the popular forces of various sectors of our society.

All of us united behind the resolutions of the national consensus that were manifested by our national councils -- center (ph) councils and by our central council, legislative council and the Palestinian National Council.

Therefore, the PLO has been the main choice of our people in our homeland and in exile. It has been gathering all of us and leading our struggle and speaking on our behalf and representing us, as well as our national authority, which will remain exactly like our people wanted it to be, a solid and firm base for our struggle to achieve our independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem being it's capital; Jerusalem, al-Quds al-Sharif.

In the name of God, through the elected legislative council and various organizations and institutions including the legislative and executive bodies, that we're all elected to the ballots -- ballot boxes that have acquired the recognition as a symbol of the future relation with our Palestinian state.

And I would like to grasp this opportunity to stress again on our democrative choice and our preparedness to hold democrative elections in every sector of our society -- municipal elections and parliamentary elections, the minute the appropriate circumstances and the safe circumstances are available.

And I would like to say here that the government of Ariel Sharon is now launching a war against the Palestinian national authority, against its institutions, its members, security forces, offices, various security apparatuses and against the infrastructure that we have been working very hard along with our friends worldwide to rebuild it.

This war has been going on against our people, against our hospitals, our fields, our mosques, our churches, farms, even farms including the olive trees that have been a witness to how old and how ancient our people are in their link to this land is.

This has been war against our people and our national authority, against the individual security and safety of our people and against our national rights and legitimate rights to have a future clean of oppression and suppression and occupation.

From within this suffering and the heroic steadfastness of our people, I would like to say that this unjust war that is being launched against us by Israel is not going to break our invincible people. It will not break our will, and will never influence the will of our people. Our people that can never be -- and history is the witness, is the best witness of every word I am saying.

And I would like to say, under these conditions, that we will not allow anybody to destabilize our national scheme and our civilized scheme or try to put obstacles or even fake the content of our national scheme, the Arab national scheme.

We will not allow anything but the one national authority on this land and in this homeland. One authority that runs, it takes a decision. It has to be respected and it has to be respected. And when this authority commits or takes a commitment, it has to be honored. And when it signs an agreement or starts an initiative, there should be full credibility to the stand taken by the authority. Yes, the full credibility to our stand.

Therefore, we have declared a state of emergency, and we started a series of measures and we will continue with these measures, including outlawing organizations that carry out terror activities is being outlawed and illegal. We have also launched the initiative to cease-fire, and this has to be respected by everybody.

The Israelis do not honor it, and they don't want to cease fire, it doesn't matter. We have to respect and honor what we committed ourselves to. We have to respect this initiative and commit ourselves to it.

And I definitely know what Sharon and his government are plotting against us.

They're plotting an aggression, a mounting military aggression, a siege of our cities and villages and refugee camps, and their occupation of our areas using these attacks against civilians -- Israeli civilians as a pretext; these attacks that we have condemned. And we still condemn them.

This sophisticated conflict that we are living does not allow, and should not allow, any shaking of the credibility of the Authority or our leadership. And we should not give Sharon and his military institutions whatever excuses in order to escalate their aggression against our people and furnish him with whatever can help him to brand our legitimate resistance as terror directed against civilians.

We would like to reiterate again here today that all sorts of armed activities should be stopped and there should be no more attacks, especially the suicide and bombing attacks that we have always condemned.

And we will arrest all those who planned these attacks and arrest them. And we will stop all these who have no other mission but to give excuses to further Israeli attacks against our land, against our people, against our women.

Any violation of this decision will be seen as a trespass of our supreme national interest of our people and of our Arab nation, and will be dealt with accordingly. Those who violate this decision will be penalized firmly and strongly, because this is our credibility in order to restore quiet and calm and to achieve and implement the recommendations of Mitchell and to return to the table of negotiations, which forms, and has to form, the only and the sole means for a settlement.

We are definitely sure how solid our national stand is and how united our people behind the freedom and independence to build their independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem being its capital and based on the international resolutions, including Resolutions 242 and 338 and 425 and 194, that addresses the question of refugees and the principle of land for peace.

Dear sisters and brothers, we are here on the holy land protecting and defending the honor of the nation and the aspirations of the nation and protecting its dignity and its holy shrines, both Muslim and Christian.

And I would like to express my deep gratitude and thanks to all our brethren and friends all over the world who have extended support to us, political and moral and material support, whether on the public level or the official one.

And I believe, like every other Palestinian, that we are fully convinced that when various forums, Arab and Islamic forums, convene, whether upon our request or for us, that they express their solidarity with us.

This is a letter to the whole world that -- or a message to the whole world that the Palestinians are not on their own, but are their friends in the Arab world and the Islamic world and worldwide are with them, with their struggle, with their rights, over their effort to protect their holy shrines, their holy Islamic and Muslim shrines on the holy land, on the terra santa.

Dear sisters and brothers, we have to understand the developments of the international situation, especially after the terror attacks in New York and Washington on the 11th of September, and the influence those attacks have on our cause and our rights.

And we will always try to keep in touch with constant contact with all forces in this world, and we will try to understand all the changes.

And I would like to say again, we have to understand the rapidly changing situation in the world and to address them with full serenity, and to understand the international stand toward our rights.

In time there was always provocation against us and unjust attempts to brand the legitimate steadfastness of our people and our insistence to end the occupation and our commitment to international legitimacy, and have all of this branded as terror, or an act of terrorism.

I would like proudly to say that we are all proud of the sacrifices of our people and the understanding of our nation of how sophisticated this conflict is and our capacity to undermine all these efforts that try to delegitimize our struggle and our resistance on the international level. And we have achieved, on the international level, unprecedented achievements.

The ideas that were presented by Secretary of State Colin Powell about the Palestinian codes (ph) and those ideas that were put by President George Bush, who declared this commitment to the Palestinian state at the U.N. forum, and also the stand taken by the EU, the European Union, Russia, by the United Nations and the other Islamic countries, the non-aligned countries, and the overall international community, are basically an effective support to our codes (ph) and to our struggle to achieve our national and legitimate rights.

Maintaining our friendships and alliances with worlds and peoples of the world is also a sign of good steps taken by our people and by the struggle of our people. These are signs of good steps taken by our people.

And now, my dear Palestinian people, who are standing steadfast on your land, I would like to address the Israelis, all of the Israelis. This is a message, a very clear message.

And I would like to say that we have tried. We have started the dialog with you decades ago. Some of you still remember it. We have worked together with the forces of peace, shoulder to shoulder. We lived very difficult circumstances.

We faced even the decisions in various Israeli governments that ban meetings and dialogue between us. But we always wanted the dialog to be the means of contact between us, and we always looked to achieve good results for both sides.

And with -- by means of our insistence on dialogue, we reach to Madrid and then Oslo and to other stations of peace, peace of the braves (ph), peace for their children and for our children, as well.

And now, I would like to reiterate and bring you our policy of continuing the dialogue. And I call on the government of Israel to put aside the illusion that tanks and planes can achieve -- or can replace dialogue and negotiations in achieving.

We are not asking for the impossible, and we do not form or pose any threat to Israel's existence. What we aspire for is to liberate our land that was occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem.

And the international legitimacy is on our side, in order to make possible the withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces, along with the Jewish settlements. And the international legitimacy is on our side on this point, as well.

We ask for the fair implementation of all the agreements that we have signed between us. And without denying the basic achievements we have achieved -- we have reached in Oslo and Camp David and Paris and Cairo and in other places.

We frankly want a Palestinian state, a real, genuine state, with a full sense of the word, with Jerusalem being its capital, alongside the state of Israel.

But as for the tanks that besiege our cities and villages and the planes that launch airstrikes -- devastating airstrikes contrary to international diplomacy and besiege with its various formats the collective punishment that is internationally banned.

All of this will never affect the will -- the strong and the firm will of our Palestinian people. Yes, it will never affect or undermine the firm will of the Palestinian people.

I would like to renew my call to the people of Israel, to their political forces and powers, to their government, to return immediately to the negotiating table and to work immediately to put these measures -- these inhumane measures, the dangerous measures against our people and those measures which will only lead to more sophistication and will drive us away from peace, security and stability all over the region.

Last, but not least, to my brothers, our Palestinian people in our homeland and in exile, I salute all of you and hold your arms so we can plant on the grave of every martyr an olive tree. And whatever was destroyed will be rebuilt by God's will and with your firm will as well. And all your national dreams and aspirations will be achieved by God's will. A victory is coming.

Victory is a method of one, our patience.

TRANSLATOR: More verses from the Koran.

ARAFAT (through translator): May peace be upon all of you. And I hope to see you all in al-Quds al-Sharif, in Jerusalem, the capital of our Palestinian state.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: You were watching Palestinian President Yasser Arafat speaking to the world, saying Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has launched an unjust war against Palestinian society. Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat has called for an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its center.

In just a moment we'll have reaction from an Israeli government official live from Jerusalem.

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