Speech Delivered by H.E. Mahmoud Abbas after Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip

September 12, 2005

Dear Citizens,
Our Great Palestinian people
Our Arab Nation
September 12, 2005

Today, after 38 years of suffering, steadfastness and sacrifice a new dawn has risen in a precious part of our homeland. The dawn of freedom rises with the evacuation of the last Israeli soldier and settler. The direct military control and colonization of Gaza Strip comes to end, once and for all. 

Gaza is awakening with new hope and promise yet looking to make its prosperous and democratic future with the same determination, will, confidence and belief that made it achieve its victory and freedom by ending the direct occupation and dismantling the colonization project in Gaza and Jenin. Our people will continue with this march until the occupation ends in all its forms and Israel’s colonization disappears from all the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, first and foremost East Jerusalem. 

These are glorious historical moments of mixed emotions. Only those who fell under occupation, resisted it, made sacrifices and won can realize their deep meaning and dimensions. Those who took their freedom and restored their will and dignity to remain free deserve a dignified living. 

Today we express our joy and celebrate our long-awaited freedom and happiness. 

On this happy national day I express my heart-felt congratulations to all those who love freedom and believe in its values, to all the Arab and Muslim nation, to all peace-loving nations of the world, including the forces of peace in Israel, to all our people at home and in exile, women, men and children, young and old. I recall a long list of martyrs and bow in respect to their generous sacrifices, primarily our leader and symbol Yasser Arafat who planted the seed of freedom and independence. May Allah bestow mercy on them all. I also recall the long list of those injured and express appreciation to every drop of their blood that irrigated the soil of this land and pray for their recovery. I recall our beloved prisoners who lie in the prisons of occupation. I emphasize that their liberation and freedom is an indispensable part of our freedom. I will continue to put the issue of their release at the top of my priorities. 

My congratulations, appreciation and respect goes also to all factions and political groups who continuously worked hard through the Follow Up Committee and contributed to this great achievement in the framework of commitment to national principles and the national consensus embodied in the Cairo declaration, especially in regard to tahdiya (the period of calm) and resolving disputed issues through dialogue. This emphasized the civilized image of our people as a reflection of our values and steadfastness. It also allowed for a quiet and smooth evacuation of the Israeli occupation army and settlers, disappointing those who wish ill to our people. 

My salute goes to all members of the National Security Forces, police and the security apparatuses. In spite of their scarce capabilities and the destruction inflicted on their institutions by Israel, they proved, with their strong will and true affiliation and nationalism, great capability in shouldering responsibilities and performing their duties. 

May I also send my thanks and appreciation to all brothers and friends – especially our brothers in Egypt – who have strongly supported our people in these conditions and created with us this historical event. I express thanks and appreciation to the donor countries for their generous financial support for the purpose of reconstructing Gaza after 38 years of dedevelopment. We hope this will help our people in the process of development and construction. 

Our joy will not be complete without having all the elements of national sovereignty. The redeployment of the Israeli occupation army and settlers from Gaza Strip as a unilateral step does not mean, in any way, that the occupation has come to an end. Gaza’s crossing points with the world, parts of its land, water and air and the link with the West Bank are still outstanding issues threatening to transform Gaza into a big prison. Gaza is an indispensable part of our occupied land, along with the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This means, to us and to every Palestinian citizen, that the occupation effectively ends when we achieve the objectives of the peace process: the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on all the Palestinian land occupied in 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital; a just and agreed resolution of the refugee problem according to resolution 194; a historic reconciliation between two states for two peoples who live in peace, mutual respect and good neighborliness. This will put an end to this long and bloody conflict. 

As we realize the intentions of the Israeli government, the objectives of its unilateral plan and its daily practices that fly in the face of international law - the continued construction of the separation and expansion Wall on our land, the intensive colonization particularly in Jerusalem and the attempts to isolate Jerusalem from the rest of West Bank, and the continued imprisonment of prisoners - we are determined to make the Israeli evacuation from Gaza Strip a step towards ending the occupation of all the Palestinian land occupied in 1967. We are strong with the justness of our cause, our national unity and the support of the international community and the international law. 

Let us make our construction and administration of Gaza Strip a real model of our great and civilized ability to manage and create our future by ourselves, and a message to the world to end all forms of occupation. 

Today we address the international community and all our friends and brothers. We stress that the success of Gaza Strip can be enhanced by heading to a comprehensive settlement, partnership and negotiations, on the basis of implementing the Road Map obligations, international law, the signed agreements and the Arab Initiative approved at Beirut summit in 2002 which calls for a complete end to Israel’s military occupation. 

Unilateral, partial and interim solutions do not provide genuine peace and do not build relations based on equality and mutual interests. 

Therefore, we address the government and people of Israel and extend our hands to them to work together for real, just and equal peace: let this not be a wasted opportunity – let’s move forward on the path to real peace. 

I call on the Israeli government to benefit from this historical opportunity and implement its obligations by ceasing its settlement activity and the construction of the Wall. Stop creating facts on the ground, release our prisoners and allow our deportees to return. 

We stand today with two important tasks that we are determined to accomplish: the task of independence and peace, and the task of construction and development. 

On the internal level: the government has prepared a national plan, in cooperation with the donor countries, for the reconstruction and comprehensive development following Israel’s mass destruction of all our aspects of life and all the infrastructure. Although our country lacks natural resources, it has a major and real resource: the Palestinian people. Today I am pleased to announce to you a package of development projects that aim to revive our national economy in all parts of our country, create thousands of job opportunities and fight poverty. They include:

  1. Roads and housing: we will build the city of Sheikh Khalifah Bin Zayed on the ruins of Morag colony. It will have 3,000 housing units at a cost of $100 million. This will be built in addition to the Emirates quarter in Rafah which will contain 638 housing units. 
    • We will also build 1,210 housing units in Rafah with financing from Saudi Arabia to compensate those whose houses were demolished by the Israeli army. There are also projects to renovate houses partially destroyed by the Israeli army. 
    • We will reconstruct Salah al-Din in Gaza at a cost of $20 million, in addition to other roads. 
    • We will begin work to build the seaport to make it our gate to the world. We will develop only those crossing points built on 1967 borders.
  2. Water: we announce sewage and drinking water in north Gaza, Khan Yunis, Hebron, Jenin and Tulkarem. 
  3. Economic Development: we have 54 km² of land that will be ready as a production base containing 3,300 dunums of greenhouses in Gaza which will create 4,000 new jobs and develop Palestinian trade by encouraging those sectors that generate exports and create jobs in order to ease unemployment and fight poverty. 
  4. Education: we will build some 50 new schools annually, in addition to new classrooms to meet annual needs, taking into consideration that we have 50,000 new pupils every year. 
  5. Environment: we will cooperate with the UN to remove the rubble left by the Israeli occupation following the demolition of the colonies. 
  6. Health: we will build a new hospital in Qalqilya to serve the city besieged by the Wall, in addition to other health centers and clinics. 
  7. Judiciary: we are concentrating our efforts to build new courts and maintain and develop existing courts in order to impose ensure adherence to law and order. 
  8. Jerusalem: We will enhance the steadfastness of our people in Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley through projects that have economic returns. 

In addition, the path is now open for private sector investment. We encourage investors to establish productive and services projects in all parts of our country. 

At the political level: we express again our readiness and preparedness to immediately resume final status negotiations. We call on the Quartet, primarily the United States, to activate its role and participation and to continue its efforts, through the implementation of the Road Map, in order to achieve President Bush’s vision of establishing a free and independent Palestinian state. We also call upon our Arab brothers to redouble their efforts to revive the Arab peace initiative. In this regard, we express our people’s appreciation of the genuine brotherly positions and the generous support for our just struggle. We trust that this great financial support will continue and expand to embody the strategic depth and the common destiny of our people and its Arab nation. 


Dear citizens, Brothers and Sisters: 

Since I had the honor to be your President, with your trust and support, I always followed a path of frankness. I have complete trust in the ability of our people and its loyalty to our homeland. This is what I rely on after relying on God. Therefore, let me be frank with you and explain to you on this glorious day we face a historic opportunity. We hope to put a strong and eternal foundation stone for our national project and independent state. 

Benefiting from this opportunity will depend upon our performance and efficiency. We must not allow anyone to waste this opportunity. It was made by the sacrifices of our people and no one has the right to confiscate or waste it under any excuse. It is the future of all our children. We have no homeland but this homeland. We have no life but in this homeland or be buried in its pure soil. We are all concerned and obligated to protect and maintain its security and stability by imposing law and order. Each one of us has interest in its reconstruction, development and prosperity. It is the right and duty of every one of us. When each one of us performs his duty, all the others will enjoy their rights. 

There is no place today for personal or factional agendas. The only agenda is the national agenda which embodies the identity of our people, maintains its gains and achievements and creates its future. The way to this agenda is through dialogue, participation and democracy through equal opportunity, rights and duties. I will work day and night to protect and implement the constitution and ensure the implementation of this national agenda through the power of law and the power of your your mandate, trust and support. 

Despite difficult and harsh security and economic conditions, our great and steadfast people have maintained our traditions, noble values, unity, originality and our adherence to our rights and identity. We deserve a free, dignified, secure and stable life. Therefore, we will do everything possible to end all the negative forms that violate law and order and threaten the security of our society, and perhaps our national project. In addition, these negative forms are alien and foreign to the values and traditions of our society. The principle that govern us is that of “one authority, one law imposed on all, one legal weapon and political plurality.” 

We will not allow the state of lawlessness, the disorder of weapons, taking law into one’s hands, kidnapping and attacks on government institutions and state land to continue. On this occasion, I reaffirm that public land evacuated by Israel will be used only for public benefit according to law. Private land, amounting to less than 3%, will be returned to its owners or they will be compensated according to law. No one is above the law. 

These duties are not only my responsibilities or that of the Palestinian Authority alone: they are the responsibilities of us all. Let us rise to the challenge and meet our responsibilities. If we carry them out in the right way, Gaza will become the cornerstone for completing our national project and our dream to build our independent state on all of our national soil with East Jerusalem as its capital. 

I strongly believe that we can, God willing, make Gaza an oasis of stability and prosperity and the foundation for achieving our dream through belief, work, national unity and the political participation open to all. 


Brothers and sisters: 

Our people face real challenges, with many parties working against us. These parties spread rumors to destroy the spirit of our people. Let us respond by word and deed, united and determined. 


Congratulations to our great people 

Today Gaza, and tomorrow, God willing and through the hard work and steadfastness of our people, West Bank and Jerusalem. 

May the Blessings and Peace of God be Upon Us All.

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