Address by

H.E. President Yasser Arafat,

President of the State of Palestine,

Chairman of the Executive Committee of the

Palestine Liberation Organization,

President of the Palestinian National Authority

Before the

Millennium Summit of the United Nations

6 September 2000

United Nations, New York

Messrs. Chairpersons,

I am pleased and honored to participate today, as the representative of Palestine and of the Palestinian people, in this great occasion, which is of special importance for us. The beginning of the third millennium, which we celebrate today, is marked by the birth of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago, in Bethlehem, Palestine.

We meet today in the vast of the United Nations, to work for the enhancing of its importance. The UN has been a contemporary of the question of Palestine since its inception, and still remains responsible for shaping and achieving a just solution to this issue. In addition, the international community, which your Majesties and Excellencies, leaders of the world, represent, is still tenaciously holding onto its global vision for the future, which we shall elaborate together through this summit. This vision relies on the just principle asserting the right of peoples under foreign occupation to self-determination. This summit allows us to participate with you, contributing our modest share and learning to improve this participation, through consistent hard work in order to build a better world, with more prosperity and more justice in economic conditions, and a more promising future for our planet in general.

On this basis, Palestinian people everywhere look up to you from their homeland, from the refugee camps, and from the Diaspora, sending out a collective cry, from the depths of pain and lengthy suffering that has lasted for 52 years, and goes on.

This takes place while we confront the Israeli attempts to Judaize Jerusalem, as well as land confiscation, the building of illegal Israeli settlements, the siege imposed upon Bethlehem, and the lack of honest and accurate implementation of the agreements signed by Israel. Let this summit be the beginning of the end of the greatest and most difficult refugee tragedy in the world. May it be the beginning of the end of the historical oppression that befell the Palestinian people, and signal a new chance for life for the Palestinian people. May this summit prove to be a new beginning for all the peoples of the Middle East, so that a just and comprehensive peace may reign there. May it be a beacon of hope for the region, and especially for its children and coming generations.

Messrs. Chairmen,

The Palestinian people and their leadership have worked in earnest towards the fulfillment of the promise to achieve the Peace of the Brave. We have made a strategic decision to achieve the peace process, offering significant and painful concessions in order to arrive at a reasonable compromise acceptable to both sides. We have accepted a Palestinian state on less than a quarter of the historical territory of Palestine, as well as numerous other ideas and suggestions pertaining to other issues related to our rights. As for Holy Jerusalem, the cradle of Christianity, and the site of Prophet Mohammed's ascension to Heaven, we have agreed to share the city, in contrast to the attempts at monopolizing it, as a response to exclusivity and rejection of our rights. At the same time we remain committed to our national rights over East Jerusalem, capital of our state and shelter of our sacred sites, as well as our rights on the Christian and Islamic holy sites, maintaining that the city should be accessible to all, and open onto its western side.

We shall continue to do our utmost during the coming short period of time, in order to arrive at a final settlement between Palestine and Israel, and we invite the Israeli government to do so likewise. We shall cooperate fully with the two sponsors of the peace process, the United States and the Russian federation, as well as the Arab and European countries, the Islamic nations, China, Japan, countries of the non-aligned movement, and our other friends. We thank them all for the efforts they have exerted on all levels, and in the Camp David summit. We thank President Clinton for his good offices, and we are grateful for what is happening now in cooperation with President Mubarak, President Chirac, and with Arab and international leaders.

Messrs. Chairpersons,

Your Majesties, your Excellencies,

The sides participating in the peace process have agreed to reach a final settlement by September 13th of the current year. The five-year interim period already expired on May 4th, 1999. World leaders then requested we postpone any decision relating to a declaration of statehood till after the Israeli elections. These facts oblige us to take certain steps to safeguards the rights of our people, acting in accordance with the decisions taken by our leadership and our legal institutions, concerning the need to materialize the existence of the state of Palestine by that September date. At the same time, some of our friends consider that reaching a final settlement requires allowing an additional chance for these efforts to succeed, though this may prove the ultimate chance for the present peace process. The Palestinian Central Council will determine this matter within the next few days, taking into account UN resolutions and our people right to self-determination through the establishment of its independent state. We shall be cooperating with the UN and other parties involved at present in the 55th session of the General Assembly. We are hopeful that we can obtain the collective positive support of the members of the Council and of the General Assembly for our cause.

Messrs. Chairpersons,

Your Majesties and Excellencies,

I would like to sincerely to express my heartfelt thanks to you all and to the Secretary-General, on behalf of the Palestinian and Arab people, for your support and solidarity with us, a crucial factor for us as we are approaching the moment of freedom, justice and peace.

May peace be upon you all