Arafat blasts, Peres maneuvers, Barak sinks
January 29, 2001
BARAK FADES, ARAFAT TWISTS, PERES MANEUVERS
For all practical purposes Ehud Barak is gone and Yasser Arafat is now
desperately trying to save his own skin. That's why Arafat blasted away
at Barak before the international elite at Davos on Sunday, closing the
door on even meeting again with Barak in his final days, unable in any
serious way to help save him anyway at this point. With Shimon Peres at
his side, one has to wonder in fact if this isn't a final attempt to push
Barak over the edge and substitute Peres in his place. In the Israeli
election system such a move could take place as late as just four days
before the election on 6 February. Arafat has survived in power for a
very long time by constantly twisting, turning, and pleasing various masters.
But all bets are off at this point. And its war that is truly looming,
not peace...certainly not anything even close to real just and lasting
peace -- and that's with or without Peres, or Arafat for that matter.
ARAFAT BLASTS ISRAEL, BUT HOPES FOR PEACE
By John Zarocostas
DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The President of the Palestinian authority
Yasser Arafat accused Israel Sunday of waging a savage and barbaric war
and a blatant and fascist militaristic aggression against his people during
the last four months, but pledged to continue with the peace process.
The attack by Arafat during a World Economic Forum (WEF) less then 24 hours
after Palestinian and Israeli negotiators ended six days of talks in Taba,
Egypt, and one week before the prime ministerial elections in Israel on
Feb. 6 forced Israel's minister of regional co-operation, to take the podium,
for the second time, in a bid to counter the strong attack.
Peres said he had come to the forum " prepared for a wedding and not a
divorce, " and said that the Israeli government does not want to see a
single Palestinian lose their life and observed that Intifada and street
violence was partly the cause.
Peres said, "our choice is not to be the masters of the Palestinian lives"
and added that " a good neighbor is better than a good gun." "I think
we can put an end to violence," said Peres, a former prime minister, and
one of the architects of the Oslo peace accords of 1993.
He said the differences today between the two parties in the talks are
"2 to 3 percent", noted Israel was very sincere in its pursuit of peace,
and emphasized "lets make the extra mile, it depends upon us, nobody else."
Arafat posed the question "is it the peace of the brave?" and after a pause
added "we hope so and we will continue together."
Egypt's Foreign Minister Amre Moussa, said the issues remaining in the
Israel-Palestinian negotiations are of maximum sensitivity and stated there
is a need, "to put an end to the confrontation between the two parties."
He said, "its time to close the file of animosity " between Arabs and Israeli's.
Moussa said at Taba, "some gaps have been narrowed but we have a long way
A Middle East ambassador, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at the
Taba talks the two sides identified the gaps on territory, security, refugees
Jerusalem and the final status."
Arafat told the president of the WEF Klaus Schwab he hoped to invite all"
on a very close day . to convene your Forum in Holy Jerusalem, the capital
of the independent state of Palestine."
The Egyptian official observed that that it is not a hopeless peace and
"we are moving and we want to see Jerusalem and open city .. a capital
of both Palestine and Israel."
A former senior U.S. State department official said, "a lot will depend
of the election situation." This view was shared by a senior Arab diplomat
close to the talks who remarked things will be "very difficult" in the
Congressman Jim Colby, R-Ariz., told UPI, "I find myself very discouraged
about the outlook."
Colby said Prime Minister Barak put an offer at Camp David that gave 95
percent of what the Palestinians wanted and they did not even respond with
"So it does not seem to me they (Palestinians) are interested in having
an agreement. So I'm very pessimistic about getting an agreement. The two
or three percent (gap) might as well be 92 or 93 percent as far as I can
say I don't think it makes all that much of a difference."
Similarly, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and a member of the foreign relations
committee, said it was clear Shimon Peres was talking to a Davos crowd
and Arafat to a Palestinian crowd."
Dodd said Peres had to answer to some " dreadful accusations made by Yasser
Arafat, and they needed to be responded to but I think Shimon Peres had
the upper hand ground here so he responded to.
He added " but as a famous speaker in the U.S. House of representatives
once said, politics is always local, Davos is not local."
Asked if a change in government in Israel will affect the peace process,
Dodd said: "I think it will. It will slow it down tremendously, probably
delay it significantly, unless there is some conversion on the road to
Damascus I don't expect Mr. Sharon to be willing, in fact he has made it
quite clear that he would not accept any agreements reached .So I expect
this to be a difficult time ahead of us. I hope not, but I'm very worried
that will be the case."
The senator said that the statement by Peres would not be well received
in Jerusalem. "He didn't answer the accusations that were made, and he
had to do that. So this is not helpful."
Arafat told a packed auditorium here of over one thousand business and
political leaders, which included U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan, that
"whoever wants to really achieve peace and seeks it with belief and sincerity,
does not resort to killing, persecution, assassination, destruction and
devastation as the government of Israel and its army of occupation".
He said in the last four months the number of Palestinian martyrs has exceeded
four hundred and the number injured has exceeded 17,000, including 5,439,
and that Israel had used weapons containing depleted uranium.
As a result of Israel's policies, said Arafat, 75 percent of the Palestinian
people are now living below the poverty line, and that Israel had destroyed
public and private property valued at $2.4 billion, dismissed our workers,
closed factories," so much that 90 percent of our workers are forcibly
unemployed," and cut down 100,000 fruit trees.
Document: President Arafat addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos
January, 28 2001
[IMRA: Arafat made this speech less than 24 hours after Israeli FM Ben
declared at a press conference at Taba that "peace in our time" was just
matter of weeks away. While Minister Shimon Peres, who shared the stage
with Arafat at Davos, declined to defend Israel at the meeting, Prime
Minister Ehud Barak reacted to Arafat's presentation by announcing that
would not meet with Arafat before the elections in Israel on February 6]
FULL TEXT OF ARAFAT SPEECH AT DAVOS
(As prepared by PNA)
Ladies and Gentlemen, leaders and members of the participating delegations
Ladies and Gentlemen
Allow me first, Mr. President, to convey to you, a special greeting on
convening this important economic forum. I would like to express to you,
well, our sincerest thanks and our deepest appreciation for your kind
invitation to this gathering in this year. I highly appreciate the efforts
you have undertaken in the planning for and the organization of bringing
together this important number of experienced personalities and decision
makers the world over.
For years, we have participated in your Forum. We are doing it today,
because we believe that the Davos Forum is important and because it
contributes to comprehensive economic and social development on the regional
and international levels. It is a forum where the horizons of positive
constructive cooperation as well as, the interaction among the economies
the various countries take place. This happens through developing economic
and trade relations based on participation, exchange of experiences and
mutual benefit to the best of the common interests of the countries and
institutions participating in this Forum. This is done in a way that creates
a positive economic atmosphere among states, delegations and institutions.
This in turn, fosters the already existing economic and trade relations
founds for new horizons of economic and trade cooperation and exchange,
contributes, in a valuable manner, to the development and growth of the
world economy as a whole. It leaves good repercussions on the levels of
income for individuals and societies.
When we talk about economics, there is no way but to talk about politics
because of its great influence on economics. The relationship between the
two is a dialectical one. The influence of the political situation on the
life and economy of any nation, people or country is a huge one - indeed
is quintessential and decisive.
You know, ladies and gentlemen, how many tiring efforts we have undertaken,
to raise our Palestinian economy that was handed over to us totally
destroyed by the Israeli occupation. There were no institutions and no
infrastructures. The whole economy of the Occupied Palestinian Territory
poured into the Israeli treasury. There was no existence of any projects
institutions for the development of the Palestinian economy and society.
Israel was set on exploiting all of our economic and natural resources
the interest of the economy of its occupation. This left negative
repercussions and destructive consequences on our economy.
Over seven years of hard and continues labor, we worked to create an
economic environment conducive to investment, development and growth.We
big efforts to establish our institutions and the necessary infrastructures.
>From here, I would like to thank all our brothers and friends, for the
they have extended to the Palestinian people. It is a help that assisted
in making the projects of economic development and growth succeed, despite
what we faced in terms of obstacles, impediments and difficulties, which
Israel had, and still does, put in the face of our developing economy.
Israel has delayed the operational functioning of the airport. It has not
allowed us to start building the seaport. As you know, these two, the
airport and the seaport, are important and vital institutions. In addition,
Israel has obstructed other projects, important to our economy and to our
people e.g. the electricity and water and other projects. The Government
Barak, as well as the preceding Government of Netanyahu, practiced the
policy of economic strangulations, closures and siege, as well as starvation
and collective punishment against our Palestinian people.
The current Government of Israel is waging, for the last four months, a
savage and barbaric war, as well as, a blatant and fascist military
aggression against our Palestinian people. In this aggression it is using
internationally prohibited weapons and ammunitions that include in their
construction depleted uranium. In addition, Israel is laying against us
total siege, indeed, worse than that, it is imposing this siege against
every village and town. It is prohibiting the freedom of movement and travel
of our people. It is jeopardizing the basic human rights of our Palestinian
citizens, dismissing our workers, closing our factories, destroying a number
of these, so much so that 90% of our workers are forcibly unemployed,
destroying our farms and fruit trees and prohibiting export and import,
indeed it is forbidding us to receive, from brothers and friends, donated
provisions. All this is in violation of all resolutions of international
legality, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Human
and the Fourth Geneva Convention relating to the Protection of Civilians
Times of War.
Have you seen a more ugly policy than this policy of collective punishment
or more destruction in the contemporary age? Israel is putting all of our
people in confrontation with this dangerous military escalation, and its
occupational, settlement, aggressive and armed expansionism as well as
confrontation with its dreams of achieving territorial and regional gains
the expense of our people, in a manner, which is in contravention of
international legality and the rights of our Palestinian people to their
land, Christian and Islamic holy places and to their natural resources.
Ladies and Gentlemen, leaders and members of the delegations,
Whoever wants really to achieve peace and seeks it with belief and
sincerity, does not resort to killing, persecution, assassination,
destruction and devastation as the Government of Israel and its army of
occupation are doing to our people these days and since four continuous
months. The number of Palestinian martyrs has exceeded the four hundred.
number of injured persons has exceeded seventeen thousand, of whom 5439
children. These are the human losses and damages. The grand total, so far,
of the economic and financial losses in all sectors, as a result of
destruction caused by the Israeli occupational military machine, to the
infrastructures and to public and private property and other losses is
billion 2,4 including the heavy losses inflicted on the Palestinian farmers
as a result of cutting more than one hundred thousand trees and leveling
10000 dunums of land (1 dunum = 1000 m2). This, of course, leaves
destructive consequences on the livelihood of the Palestinian citizens
the Palestinian investment. Added to these losses should be those caused
the Israeli shells, from tanks, artillery, planes and rockets, to the
buildings, establishments, installations and institutions, such as schools,
colleges, churches and mosques.
This is a very short resume? of what has befallen our society in terms
dire human and material losses and as a result of the situation of total
siege and closure. As a result, the percentage of those who are living
the lineof poverty has risen to 75% and general national income has
decreased sharply in millions of US dollars annually.
While we confirm to you, dear friends once more, our adherence to a
comprehensive, just and permanent peace, the peace of the brave, as a firm
strategic choice of our Palestinian people, we look up to you, and to the
United Nations and to all justice-, freedom-, peace- and democracy - loving
forces the world over, and to all brothers and friends, to approach the
vital and influential international forces in the world, so as to bear
moral and human responsibilities in order to work in sincerity, objectivity,
neutrality and fairness, to find a quick and just solution to the Issue
Palestine, in accordance with the spirit of right and justice and the
international resolutions related to Palestine.
You know, ladies and gentlemen, that we have made great concessions and
sacrifices in order to achieve comprehensive, just and permanent peace.
indeed, we have accepted less than one quarter of the total area of historic
Palestine. We accepted, at the Madrid Peace Conference, the principle of
land for peace on the basis of [UN] Security Council Resolutions 242 and
which call for the withdrawal of Israel, the occupying power, from all
and Palestinian occupied territories, including Holy Jerusalem, to the
fourth of June border lines; the dismantling of every thing the occupation
has built in terms of settlements and settlement structures that have no
basis of legality; and the implementation of [UN General Assembly]
Resolution 194 on the Palestinian refugees. We have achieved, as well,
agreements with my late partner Yitzhak Rabin, in making the peace of the
brave, which guarantees us the establishment of our independent Palestinian
state, with holy Jerusalem as its capital.
We look forward to the whole international community, the United Nations
Organization and the vital and influential international forces, to work
ending this Israeli war and aggression against our unarmed people; a war
an aggression which constitute a flagrant and blatant violation of the
Fourth Geneva Convention relating to the Protection of Civilians in Times
War. We ask for the provision of international protection for our people
immediately, the lifting of the siege and closure and the ending of this
escalating military aggression.
Our Palestinian people, ladies and gentlemen, look up to you to help them
realizing their inalienable legitimate national rights so as to be able
march forward on the road of development and construction of their homeland,
to catch up with the developed and advanced course of international economy,
and to live with dignity, freedom, sovereignty and independence in their
homeland, Palestine, like all other peoples and states in the region and
world, in a framework of confidence, mutual respect and good neighborliness
with their surroundings.
Finally, we reiterate our thanks to you, Mr. President, for inviting us,
for giving us the opportunity to address this august Forum. We wish you
success and good luck in realizing the noble aims of this meeting. We
express our sincere hope and firm desire to have the honor to invite you
on a very close day, God be willing, to convene your Forum in Holy
Jerusalem, the capital of the independent State of Palestine.
Peace be with you all.