“It is not I who is on trial in Israel”

Though I am the one in chains, it is not I who is on trial in Israel. Rather, what is on trial today is the conscience of all freedom-loving people around the world.

My crime is not �terrorism� � a term apparently only used to describe the deaths of Israeli civilians but never the deaths of Palestinians. My crime is that I insist on my freedom, freedom for my children, freedom for the entire Palestinian people. And if indeed that is a crime, I proudly plead guilty.

My show trial says more about the sorry state of Israeli morality than it does about me. I pity the state of Israel � the middle east�s �only democracy� stooping to fabricating charges in a show trial aimed not at truth and justice but rather to appease the Israeli masses who refuse to see any connection between their own brutal policies and the cycle of violence Israelis and Palestinians are now experiencing. Like President Arafat, I have become a scapegoat � my trial simply a public relations event by a morally bankrupt and visionless Israeli leadership desperate to cover up its own inadequacies. And I pity the Israeli people, lied to and misled by a Prime Minister promising peace and security and who has failed miserably in delivering either.

I categorically reject the authority of this criminal court of occupation and I will not dignify the ludicrous claims against me by responding to them. If my trial were truly a search for truth and justice, it would be Sharon and the Israeli army behind bars � it would be the criminals of occupation who have perpetrated war crimes against the men, women and children of Palestine over decades, who continue toviolate UN Resolutions and the 4th Geneva Convention with impunity.

To that end I have prepared my own charges against Israel � charges of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity which have been all too well documented. But when will the Palestinian people have their day in court?

I call upon the Palestinian people to continue the intifada, to continue our resistance to occupation, to continue our struggle for freedom. I call upon the Palestinian people to defy the curfews, to go about our daily lives as much as possible, to send our children to schools, to seek medical attention at our hospitals. Our freedom will not come by obeying the orders of the occupiers � it will only come when the occupation becomes a burden for the occupier rather than the occupied.

I salute all those Palestinians who have lost their lives in our struggle to be free. I salute those who have endured injuries, home demolitions, the denial of medical care and unforgiving curfews.

And I thank all those freedom loving people and organizations around the world who have expressed their solidarity with me and the Palestinian people during this attack on our existence. I am confident that ultimately the Palestinian values of freedom, independence, justice and peace will triumph over the Likud values of oppression, occupation, injustice and war.