2023 UN General Assembly Debate: A Speech Worthy of the Palestinian People
State of Palestine - President Addresses General Debate, 77th Session | UN Web TV
I offer the following draft of what I suggest Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas adopt as his speech in the upcoming General Debate of the 78th Session of the General Assembly. It is as follows:
Dear President of the United Nations General Assembly,
Dear Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Excellencies, Heads of Delegations and Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First, I apologize to the Palestinian people, those living under Israeli military occupation, those living under the fascist and undemocratic State of Israel, those still living as refugees outside of Palestine, and those Palestinians scattered around the globe in our Diaspora. To each and every one of you, and from this highest global podium, I deeply apologize. I'm sorry for many things but foremost among them is my refusal to allow you to maintain our political agency, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). My decisions were unquestionably a primary cause of its decline. I apologize to our Palestinian youth, who when they hear of the PLO today, imagine it perhaps as a flavor of ice cream, not our national liberation movement.
Dear member states,
I’ve stood at this podium one time too many. I’ve laid out our just cause ad nauseam. I’ve bored you with history lessons. I’ve tried to embarrass you by counting your resolutions on Palestine that have all been in vain, all 754 General Assembly resolutions, 97 Security Council resolutions, and 96 Human Rights Council resolutions, to list just a few. I know for a fact that many of you “get it” and understand the issues and are ready to act. Regretfully, however, one member in particular, who has monopolized these chambers, has blocked the ability for you to act in your collective interest. This is a sad fact that my people cannot correct on our own, thus I note it as the unvarnished fact that it is.
Therefore, I hereby make the following declaration on behalf of my people and their just struggle for freedom and independence. It is not coincidental that this declaration is a single sentence of just 67 words, just as the colonial Belfour Declaration was.
“The Palestinian people view with unflinching determination that Palestine, from the River to the Sea, will be free from Israeli and Zionist colonialization, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this goal, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice all rights of lawful Jewish communities in Palestine, and all rights and political status of Palestinians anywhere they reside.”
With this declaration and considering the ongoing U.S.-Israeli crimes against Palestine and Palestinians, I offer UN member states the following 5-point strategy to make the long overdue correction to address the historic injustice that was brought upon my people:
1. Revoke Israel’s UN membership. If there are no real consequences for systemic violations of the terms of UN admission and membership, then what is the point of membership? Additionally, I hereby revoke the PLO’s recognition of the State of Israel, 30 years after it was made unilaterally as a gesture to advance peace. I will not leave this burden of unilateral recognition on the shoulders of future Palestinian generations.
2. Provide immediate international protection for Palestinians in Gaza, East Jerusalem, West Bank, Israel, and our refugee/displaced communities across the world. Our youth are increasingly taking up arms to protect themselves and their communities from the Israeli military and settler violence. Providing long overdue international protection of the ‘protected people’ under military occupation may save lives.
3. Uphold accountability to all stakeholders, equally. Apply economic, diplomatic, military, sports, and environmental sanctions on Israel and/or the U.S., as well as any other countries undertaking or facilitating Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity.
4. Take military/nonmilitary actions. The Charter of the United Nations, Chapter VII, provides for you to take “Action concerning threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression”. Seventy-five years later, are you still contemplating if the situation in Palestine is a threat to peace or if today’s Israeli government, in particular, is undertaking acts of aggression?
5. Bypass the U.S. Security Council veto. The UN Security Council is hijacked by a vested party to the conflict. You have the legal right to enact a ‘Uniting for Peace’ Resolution based on General Assembly Resolution 377 A (V) of 1950, which, in essence, allows your collective will be to evoked despite a single spoiler member.
These actions have the potential to resuscitate a world order based on international law, not some fleeting “rules-based world order” where the rules are arbitrarily set by a single member state.
Last, but not least, I inform you that this will be my final speech at this UN body in my capacity as President of Palestine. Effective immediately, I resign from all my official positions in the State of Palestine, the PLO, the Palestinian Authority, and the FATAH movement. It is this chamber that has brought havoc on my people and so I return the burden of this reality to you, where it belongs.
On a personal note, I must add that I do not take these extremely calculated measures out of fatigue or surrender, but as a last-ditch effort to save the remaining ounce of integrity I have in front of my people.
I wish you all luck with the new generation of Palestinian leaders.
I still hope and pray that peace with justice may be realized in my lifetime, as I return to do my part as a Palestinian refugee citizen living under Israeli military rule and yearning to return to my birthplace of Safad.
I want to end by saying thank you, but that does not seem appropriate. Thus, my closing wish is that your collective consciousness and ability to act prove more powerful than any state that believes it can remain above the law forever.
Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business consultant and frequent independent political commentator from Ramallah/Al-Bireh in Occupied Palestine. He blogs at ePalestine.ps. @SamBahour