Excerpts of Arafat speech on terror

April 14, 2002|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

JERUSALEM - Here are excerpts of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's statement denouncing terrorism, as translated by the U.S. government:

President Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian leadership express their condemnation of all terrorist acts against civilians, whether they are Israelis or Palestinians and whether this terrorism is sponsored by a state, group or person.

This is based on a firm principle rejecting the use of violence and terrorism against civilians or as a means to achieve political aims.

We have embraced this position since 1988. We expressed it upon signing the Oslo accord at the White House [in 1993] and reiterated it several times, including in what we announced on Dec. 16, 2001, and afterward.

We, however, received no Israeli response, but rather a military escalation, a choking siege, a continued occupation of our people, camps, cities and villages, and a comprehensive destruction of our infrastructure.

On this basis, we strongly condemn the violent operations that target Israeli civilians, especially the recent operation in Jerusalem.

We also strongly condemn the massacres the Israeli occupation forces have been committing for the past two weeks against the Palestinian civilians and refugees in the city of Nablus and Jenin camp, against the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and in other Palestinian areas.

We urge the international community, the [United Nations] Security Council and Mr. Colin Powell, who is on an international mission for peace, to get acquainted with these massacres and blood baths plaguing our people due to the Israeli occupation and also [with] the Israeli government's determination to squash our people's quest for freedom and independence with military force, tanks, aircraft, missiles, shells and machine guns.

We, on behalf of the Palestinian people, reiterate anew our commitment to the option of a just peace between the two peoples and two countries, a peace that would bring security to the Israelis and independence and freedom in an independent state for the Palestinian people.

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