Speech by Chairman Yasser Arafat at the Signing of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum

September 4, 1999

(simultaneous translation from Arabic)

Mr. Hosni Mubarak, President of Egypt, His Majesty King Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Mr. Ehud Barak, Prime Minister of Israel, Mrs. Madeleine Albright, the U.S. Secretary of State, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to thank President Mubarak for hosting this ceremony to sign the agreement to implement the outstanding clauses of the Wye Agreement between the PLO and the government of Israel. In this respect, we would like to express our deep appreciation of the constructive role that has been played by Egypt under the leadership of President Mubarak and his top aides, who have expressed their full support to the peace process in the region. I would like also to extend my thanks to President Clinton and to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright for the efforts that have been done by the United States as a guarantor of the peace process and to put the peace process back on track. It is a new occasion to go ahead within the significant role of the United States and the role and the efforts done by His Majesty King Abdullah, and the support that we have had from the European community, from Russia, from China, from Japan, from friendly countries, from the United Nations. It is with the help of all those that this ceremony is being held and the signing is taking place. On this occasion I would like to remind you of the role that was played by the late King Hussein, may his soul rest in peace, in achieving the Wye River Agreement and in supporting the peace process in the region.

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, the signing of this memorandum tonight represents a complement to the peace process and to move forward to implement all the outstanding clauses and points. We have no time to waste and we have no chance to waste any more chances. It is an ongoing hope now for us to maintain the pace of the peace. We respect our commitments and implement them, and we implement all our commitments in the agreements, and we will continue our efforts to maintain the supremeness in the interests of all people and safeguarding the peace process, and we express our interest to go on forward to reach the final status settlement based on the UN Resolution 242 and on the basis of land for peace, and to build our independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem being its capital, to solve the problem of the Palestinian refugees according to resolutions of the international legitimacy.

Now, as we are ready to implement the Wye Memorandum, we will be seeing in a few coming days the PNA takeover of additional lands of the Palestinian territories, to open the safe passage between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and we will be seeing too the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. We would like to try to stress the need to stop all the settlement activities, the land expropriation and house demolition – all those have been stressed in our previous and former agreements that we signed together. The commitment to the peace process is very significant and important because it supplies the appropriate atmosphere to achieving progress towards the permanent status negotiations and to build confidence by implementing all the agreements signed, based on the Declaration of Principles between the PLO and the government of Israel.

We have succeeded with our partner the late Yitzhak Rabin and with Shimon Peres in the first years that followed the signing of the Oslo Agreement, the Taba Agreement, and the Cairo Agreement as well, to express a good mood of friendship and partnership, Palestinian and Israeli, and we have proved that this partnership is very important, based on mutual respect and commitment to signed agreements and combatting enemies of peace on both sides. We have succeeded in establishing a strong infrastructure for maintaining peace – the peace of the brave – in our region.

I would like here to reiterate the commitment of the PLO and of the PNA and of the Palestinian people in the peace agreements. We hereby extend our hand to Mr. Barak as our main partner in the peace process, the peace of the brave, and we tell him: We are ready to resume the process of building the Palestinian-Israeli partnership for the sake of peace, and we are ready to continue to help maintain continuous cooperation between us to build the peace of the brave and make it reality. This is the real challenge that is facing both of us. Let us work together in order to achieve it, and let us work together in order to improve our capability to make peace the basic and fundamental ground of our daily life.

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, more than three years ago this city in Egypt witnessed an international summit, when dozens of world leaders met to stress the unity of the world against terror and their support of the peace process. Today we meet again on this important occasion to reiterate the same meanings and the same goal, which is to lead the peace process to its final destination by means of achieving a just and a long-lasting peace in the region on all tracks, including the Syrian and the Lebanese tracks. Thank you.