The Nobel Peace Prize 1994
Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin
Translation from the Arabic text by D. Karara
Your Majesty King Harald,
Your Majesty Queen Sonja,
Professor Sejersted - Chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A quote from the Holy Koran, "Then if they should be inclined to make peace, do thou incline towards it also, and put thy trust in Allah." The Holy Koran, 8:62.
Ever since I was entrusted by my people to undertake the arduous task of seeking our lost home, I have been filled with a warm faith that all those in exile who bore the keys to their homes with them as they bore their limbs, an inseparable part of them, and those in the homeland, who bore their wounds as they bear their names... would, one day, for all their sacrifices, be granted the rewards of returning and freedom. And that, the difficult journey on that long pain-filled path would end in their own hallways.
Now, as we celebrate together the first sighting of the crescent moon of peace, I stare into the eyes of those martyrs whose look has seared into my consciousness as I stand here on this podium and who ask me about the homeland, about their vacant places. I hide my tears from them and tell them: "How right you were. Your generous sacrifice has enabled us to behold the Holy land, to tread our first steps on it in a difficult battle, the battle for peace, the peace of the brave."
Now, as we celebrate the reawakening of creative forces within us and restore the war-torn home that overlooks the neighbors' where our children shall play together and compete to pick flowers, now, I feel national and human pride in my Palestinian Arab People whose powers of patience and giving, of retaining a never-ending bond between homeland, history and people, have added a new chapter to the homelands' ancient legends, that of The Epic of Hope.
To them, to the sons and daughters of that kind enduring nation, that nation of Yew and dew, of fire and sweat, I dedicate this Nobel Prize. I shall bear it to those children who have been promised freedom, safety and security in a homeland free of the threats of external occupation or internal exploitation.
I know, I know full well, Mr. Chairman, that this supreme and greatly significant prize was not awarded to me and to my partners: Mr. Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister, and Mr. Shimon Peres, the Foreign Minister, to crown an achievement: but as an encouragement to pursue a route with greater steps and deeper awareness, with truer intentions so that we may transform the peace option, the peace of the brave, from words into practice and reality and for us to be worthy of carrying forward the message entrusted to us by our peoples, as well as humanity and a universal moral duty.
The Palestinians, whose national cause guards the gates of Arab-Israeli peace, look forward like their Arab brethren, to that comprehensive, just and lasting peace, based on "land for peace" and compliance with international legitimacy and resolutions. Peace, for us, is an asset and in our interest. It is an absolute human asset that allows an individual to freely develop his individuality unbound by any regional, religious or ethnic fetters. It restores to Arab-Israeli relations their innocent nature, and enables the Arab spirit to reflect through unrestrained human expression its profound understanding of the Jewish-European tragedy, just as it allows the tortured Jewish spirit to express its unfettered empathy for the suffering endured by the Palestinian people over their ruptured history. Only the tortured can understand those who have endured torture.
Peace is in our interest: as only in an atmosphere of just peace shall the Palestinian people achieve their legitimate ambition for independence and sovereignty, and be able to develop their national and cultural identity, as well as enjoy sound neighborly relations, mutual respect and cooperation with the Israeli people. They, in return, will be able to articulate their Middle Eastern identity, and to open up economically and culturally towards their Arab neighbors. The Arabs are looking forward to developing their region which the long years of war had prevented from finding its true place in today's world, in an atmosphere of democracy, pluralism and prosperity.
Just as war is a great adventure, peace is a challenge and wager. If we fail to endow peace with the wherewithal to withstand the tempest amid the storm. If we fail to nurture peace so that it may gain in strength, if we fail to give it scope to grow and gain in strength, the wager could be wasted and lost. So, from this rostrum I call upon my partners in peace to speed up the peace process, to bring about an early withdrawal, to allow elections to be held and to move on rapidly to the next stage, so that peace may become entrenched and grow, become an established reality.
We started the peace process on the basis of land for peace, and on the basis of UN resolution 242 and 338,1 as well as other international decisions on achieving the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. Even though the peace process has not reached its full scope, the new environment of trust as well as the modest steps implemented during the first and second years of the peace agreement are very promising and call for the lifting of reservations, for procedures to be simplified. We must fulfill what remains, especially the transfer of power and taking further steps in Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the settlements to achieve full withdrawal. This would provide our society with the opportunity to rebuild its infrastructure and to contribute from its location, with its own heritage, knowledge and know-how in forging our new world.
In this context I call on Russia and the United States of America, the cosponsors of the peace conference, to help the peace process take bigger steps, by contributing to the process and helping to overcome all obstacles. I also call on Norway and Egypt as the first countries to have nurtured the Israeli- Palestinian peace to pursue this worthy initiative that took off from Oslo, to Washington to Cairo. Oslo shall remain the bright name that accompanies the process of peace, the peace of the brave, as will the name of those countries sponsoring the multilateral talks.
Here I call on all the countries of the world especially the donor countries to speed up their contributions so that the Palestinian people may overcome their economic and social problems and proceed with reconstruction and the rebuilding of infrastructures. Peace cannot thrive, and the peace process cannot be consolidated in the absence of the necessary material conditions.
I call on my partners in peace to reinforce the peace process with the necessary comprehensive and strategic vision.
Confidence alone does not make peace. But acknowledging rights and confidence do. Failure to recognize these rights creates a sense of injustice, it keeps the embers burning under the ashes. It moves peace towards the quicksands of danger and rekindles a fuse that is ready to explode.
We view peace as a historic strategic option, not a tactical one directed by current calculations of gain or loss. The peace process is not only a political process, it is an integrated operation where national awareness, economic, scientific and technological development play a major role, just as cultural, social and creative merging play essential roles that are of the very essence of the peace process and fortify it.
I review all this as I recall the difficult peace journey we have travelled, we have only covered a short distance. We have to arm ourselves with courage and utmost temerity to cover the longer distance ahead, towards the homebase of just and comprehensive peace, and to be able to assimilate that creative force of the deeper meanings of peace.
As long as we have decided to coexist in peace we must do so on a firm basis that will withstand time and for generations. A comprehensive withdrawal from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip requires an in-depth consideration of the settlements question, they cut across geographic and political union, impede free communication between the regions of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and create foci of tension: this is contrary to the spirit of peace we seek and mars its serenity. The same applies to the question of Jerusalem, the spiritual haven for Moslems, Christians and Jews. It is the city of cities for Palestinians and where Jewish holy places are on an equal footing with Islamic and Christian holy places, so let us make it a world beacon for spiritual harmony, the radiance of civilization and religious heritage for all humanity. In this context, there is an urgent task that impels the peace process and will help it overcome deep-seated barriers, namely that of the detainees and prisoners. It is important that they be released, that their mothers, wives and children may smile again.
Lets us protect this newborn infant from the winter winds, let us nurture it with milk and honey, from the land of milk and honey, and on the land of Salem, Abraham, Ismael and Isaac, the Holy Land, the Land of Peace.
Finally, I would like to congratulate my partners in peace Mr. Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister of Israel, and Mr. Shimon Peres, the Israeli Foreign Minister on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
My congratulations also go to the people of Norway, this friendly nation, for their sponsorship, for their warm hospitality, it betokens their history and nobility. I assure you, Ladies and Gentlemen, that we shall discover ourselves in peace more than we have with war and confrontation, as I am sure that the Israelis in turn shall find themselves in peace more than they have found it in war.
Glory to God almighty,
Peace on Earth,
and Goodwill to all People,
1. Security Council Resolution 242 (November 22, 1967), passed after Israel's victory in the Six Day War, among other clauses emphasized "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war" and called for "the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict". These points were welcomed by the Palestinians and other Arabs. On the other hand, the resolution also affirmed the necessity "for guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every state in the area". This pleased Israel, which the Arab states had refused to recognize and sought to overthrow by arms. Security Council Resolution 338 (October 22, 1973) called for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Egypt and other Arab states, reaffirmed Resolution 242 and called for its immediate implementation. See Laqueur and Rubin, The Israel-Arab Reader, pp. 217-218, 310.
From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1991-1995, Editor Irwin Abrams, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1999
Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1994