PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION
PALESTINE NATIONAL AUTHORITY

H.E. YASSER ARAFAT

President of the State of Palestine,
Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization,
President of the Palestine National Authority

Third World Conference against Racism and Racial Discrimination

Durban - South Africa 31 August - 7 September 2001

HE President Thabo Mbeki,
HE President Mary Robinson,
Excellencies,
HE Mr. Kofi Annan,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure and delight to be with you, side by side with my friend President Thabo Mbeki, the President of South Africa, which has once and forever liberated itself from the detested racism and the policies of racial discrimination.

It is my sincerest hope that this Third World Conference against Racism and Racial Discrimination will be a decisive historical turning point on the international level in doing away with all forms of racial discrimination and racism.

I come to you from my homeland, Palestine, which is tormented by racial discrimination, occupation, aggression and settlements. It is my hope that this esteemed conference will make the final word, the word of right, history and justice, on this bloody tragedy to which our people have been subjected. It is a racist colonialist conspiracy of aggression, forced eviction, usurpation of land and infringement upon the Christian and Islamic holy places, in Al-Quds Ash-Shareef, Bethlehm, Beit Jala, Beit Sahoor, Hebron and others.

The conspiracy against our people thwarted all international resolutions, which provide the only basis for peace and justice. As a result of this colonialist challenge against international legitimacy, the governments of Israel usurped our rights, land and natural resources. They destroyed many Christian and Islamic holy places. They robbed our water. They turned a majority of our people into refugees in the region and the world, deprived of return to their homeland and to their homes even after the adoption of Resolution 194, which guaranteed their right of return. Indeed the Government of Israel is now undertaking military escalation and imposing an economic, financial, provisions-supply and medical siege against our people and against all of our towns and villages as well as against our farms and industrial establishments, which they are destroying by all kinds of the American war machine, including those internationally prohibited. Our people have condemned equally all the racist practices and crimes and racist practices directed against the Jews in modern history.

Our Palestinian people face today the severest military campaign run by the Government of Israel headed by Sharon. She declares to the world, in a challenging and insolent manner, her rejection of political solutions and agreements as well as her insistence on a military solution that has brought disasters and destruction to our land and people, and the liquidation and assassination of their leaders, the last of whom was the heroic martyred leader, Abu Ali Mustafa, the Secretary General of the Popular Front. This brutality and arrogance are moved by a mentality of superiority that practices racial discrimination, that adopts ethnic cleansing and transfer, and that protects the daily attacks carried out by the settlers against our people.

Our Palestinian people who are suffering as a result of this severe occupation, these settlements and racial discrimination look forward towards this conference to stand on their side, with right, justice and international legitimacy which are trampled upon by Israel. The aim of this Government is to force our.people to their knees and to make them surrender in order to continue her occupation, settlements and racist practices, so as to liquidate our people by carrying out the Orainim (i.e. Hell) plan which were declared by Sharon, the head of the Government of Israel, before the Israeli Knesset and by the Chief of staff of his army.

The ongoing Israeli aggression against our people does not aim, as the Government of Israel claims, at ensuring the security of Israel and that of her citizens. This savage aggression aims at maintaining occupation and settlements, and continuing the aggression against our land and our Christian and Islamic holy places. It should be known that the security of Israel and the Israelis, and that the just and comprehensive peace in the region, the peace of the brave, which I and my late partner Rabin signed, can be achieved through the Israeli withdrawal, the removal of the settlements from our land and the implementation of the signed agreements and the resolutions of international legality.

Condemnation of the Israeli occupation and its racist practices and laws, which are based on racism and superiority, is considered today an urgent demand by our people. It also represents a strong support for their just and legitimate struggle to liberate their land from the Israeli occupation, to exercise their legitimate right to self-determination and to establish their independent state, with Holy Jerusalem as its capital, and to the right of the refugees to return to their land. We continue to look forward to the return of the path of peace to achieve these legitimate goals within a just,comprehensive and lasting peace for all the people of our area.

This historical conference repres nts a decisive historical turning point in the position of all humanity vis--vis discrimination and racist practices which are all incorporated in the Israeli occupation of and settlements in our homeland, Palestine. The decisions of this historical conference cannot but be a start for a universal international as well as popular move to do away with the last vestiges of colonialism in our contemporary world, namely the Israeli settler occupation of our homeland, Palestine, and to enable our people get their right of freedom, independence and sovereignty, like other peoples in the world.

Thank you for your attention and I wish this historical conference success.