Excerpts of Palestinian PM Mahmoud Abbas Speech Before Palestinian Legislative Council

On Judicial Reform

The government is certain that internal organization cannot be achieved without a collective commitment to the principle of the rule of law. The rule of law will be meaningless without an independent, effective and impartial judiciary, and efficient legal institutions with a Ministry of Justice that supports the independence of the judiciary and an enforcement mechanism capable of implementing such provisions. The government promises to work side by side with the President and the Legislative Council to restructure the Higher Judiciary Council in accordance with the provisions of the Independent Judiciary Law.

The government also commits itself to work on the preparation of draft laws and regulations to complete the National Authority’s body of laws. The judicial system is the real face of any society and the most accurate indicator of its civilization, progress and development.

On Security

The government will concentrate on the question of security. The government endeavors to develop the security services according to law. It will allocate special attention to the professional qualifications of the leaders and members of such security services. It will tolerate no breach of discipline or violations of the law. The government will not allow - and indeed will strictly prevent - illegal interference by the security services in the lives, affairs and businesses of citizens. [Security] arrangements give the Minister of the Interior wide jurisdiction and provide him with the ability to control the internal security situation and improve security performance.

The unauthorized possession of weapons, with its direct threat to the security of the population, is a major concern that will be relentlessly addressed.

There will be no other decision-making authority except for the Palestinian Authority. On this land and for this people, there is only one authority, one law, and one democratic and national decision that applies to us all.

On Free Speech

The rights of citizens to freely express themselves will not be jeopardized by any person or under any pretense or justification. Palestinians may hold any political views, and exercise such rights and freedoms in accordance with the law.

On the Economy

The government will prepare a comprehensive national development plan (that includes Jerusalem) in which we will devote sufficient attention to the service and economic sectors and we will provide necessary health, education, culture, media and agriculture services to citizens. The plan will be carried out in a professional and transparent manner. In this context, the government will continue working with the private sector in order to enact and enforce legislation and regulations that will strengthen the market economy and develop the national economy and provide protection to investments and investors.

On Public Finance

The government will continue to implement the fiscal policies and measures proposed by the Minister of Finance. [PA] investments will be fully placed under the government’s supervision and control so that all resources of the Palestinian Authority will be unified in the Ministry of Finance in accordance with international best practices in the administration of public funds.

The government will not allow - and will devise strict regulations to combat - abuse of personal positions in the exercise of trade and investment.

Public funds belong to the citizens and to the nation. Preserving public funds is a national and moral duty that will be exercised through institutions, laws, transparency and continuous supervision. In this context, the government will prosecute persons accused of corruption and embezzlement based on concrete evidence and respecting due process.

On Continuing Reform

The government will continue to implement and develop its reform plan - mainly the reform plan adopted by the Legislative Council through a joint committee between the Council, the government and in cooperation with all relevant parties including civil society. The government will build the Ministerial Cabinet with professionalism and with work ethics that will improve the work of all Executive Authority institutions in order serve the public interest. One of the most important steps in this regard is the implementation of the financial and administrative components of the Civil Service Law.

On the Israeli Occupation

The internal situation cannot be separated from the painful political reality in which we live: the deplorable occupation and its accompanying colonization and oppressive policies that have caused us tremendous pain and suffering.

Once again, I reiterate that the military and colonizing occupation with its practices of assassinations, detentions, checkpoints, sieges, demolition of homes and properties is the root of our suffering and is the main source of our problems. The occupation impedes our growth and therefore ending the occupation in all of its forms and from all of the territories occupied since 1967, including our eternal capital Jerusalem, is our national priority.

On the Roadmap

The government is committed to the PLO’s official approval of [the Roadmap]… However, I would like to mention a few points in this regard:

Israel is attempting to alter the Roadmap as we know it by entering into complicated negotiations and by imposing its own interpretation of the [Roadmap] and its implementation.

We will not negotiate the Roadmap. The Roadmap must be implemented, not negotiated. Therefore, the government supports the Palestinian leadership in asserting its refusal of the so-called Israeli amendments and calls upon the Quartet - author of this plan - to announce the Roadmap as we know it as soon as possible and to guarantee and verify the implementation of each phase with effective and guaranteed enforcement and monitoring mechanisms.

On Settlements and the So-Called “Separation” Wall

Settlements, which violate international law, were and continue to be the major threat to the creation of a Palestinian state with genuine sovereignty. Thus, settlements are the primary obstacle to any peace process.

Settlement expansion in and around Jerusalem, with its accompanying house demolitions, confiscation of land and property (in addition to the economic, social, administrative and cultural strangulation in the lives of Palestinians and Israel’s attempt to impose a permanent solution for this Holy City by means other than negotiations) will only inflame the conflict and destroying any chance for peace.

The construction of the so-called “separation” wall is a dangerous continuation of the colonization project. In addition to the confiscation of Palestinian citizens’ lands and the cutting off of their sources of livelihood, the wall is an Israeli measure that is designed to annex large areas of land, to confiscate underground water resources, isolate our cities and villages and to encircle the city of Jerusalem. This is another attempt to destroy any chance for peace and destroy any possibility of reaching a permanent and accepted solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The removal of the wall will be among the first issues that our government will address because, without its removal, Israel will effectively destroy the Roadmap and any other peace initiatives.

To the Israeli People and Government

We want a lasting peace with you achieved through negotiations.

We denounce terrorism by any party and in all its forms both because of our religious and moral traditions and because we are convinced that such methods do not lend support to a just cause like ours, but rather destroy it.

We do not ignore the sufferings of the Jews throughout history. And in exchange, we hope that the Israelis will not turn their backs on the sufferings of the Palestinians.

Those who need to learn lessons from war and its calamities are those who still believe that military might is capable of imposing political solutions and that implicit and explicit threats are capable of dissuading people from demanding their rights. I repeat, there is no military solution to our conflict. Our people do not accept threats and will not succumb to them. On the contrary, there is no alternative to a just and comprehensive political solution. Our people welcome peace, security and prosperity to all. We welcome a peace that guarantees Israel’s withdrawal from all occupied Palestinian and Arab territories in accordance with international law.

On Final Status

To be clear, the Palestinian people will not accept anything less than the exercise of our right to self-determination and the establishment of our independent state with Jerusalem as its capital; a genuine, contiguous state without any settlements, on all of the territories occupied in 1967 in conformity with international law.

A just, agreed upon, fair and acceptable solution to the refugee problem consistent with international law (particularly UN Resolution 194) will constitute one of the bases of coexistence.

On Political Prisoners

The government, under the leadership [of President Arafat], will not spare any effort to work to release all of our detainees, honorable heroes detained by the occupation - whose number has exceeded 10,000 -including members of the Executive Committee of the PLO, Tayseer Khaled and Abdul Rahim Malowah, as well as a member of the Central Council Rakad Salem and members of the Legislative Council Marwan Barghouti and Hussam Khader and the longest-detained Palestinian, Ahmad Jubarah (Abu Sukar).

For a full translation of the speech, see http://www.nad-plo.org/speeches/abumazen5.html