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Oleh/By		:	DATO' SERI DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD 
Tempat/Venue 	: 	THE HILTON HOTEL, KUALA LUMPUR 
Tarikh/Date 	: 	03/05/83 
Tajuk/Title  	: 	AT THE OPENING OF THE ASIAN 
			CONFERENCE ON THE QUESTION 
			OF PALESTINE 




Mr. Chairman; Your Excellencies; Distinguished Delegates; Ladies and
Gentlemen.

I wish to welcome all of you who have come a long way to make a genuine
and meaningful contribution to finding a solution to the Palestinian
problem -- a problem which has been with us for more than three decades
since the displacement of the Palestinian people from their homeland
following the establishment of the so-called state of Israel. Your
presence here is proof of the support of the countries and peoples of the
ASIA-PACIFIC region for the just struggle of the Palestinian people for
their right to their homeland in Palestine.

2. This show of solidarity by your presence here will no doubt reassure
the Palestinian people that their struggle has not been in vain, that they
are not alone and that the international community is still conscious of
its responsibility for peace and justice.

3. I wish to take this opportunity to convey, on behalf of the Government
and people of Malaysia, our deep appreciation to Mrs. Lucille Mair, the
Secretary-General of the International Conference on the Question of
Palestine, and to Ambassador Masamba Sarre, the Chairman of the Committee
on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for
their commendable efforts, not only in projecting the just cause of the
Palestinians, but also in pursuing, on behalf of the Palestinian people,
greater international commitment to justice. The Palestinian struggle is
nothing more than a struggle for justice, to which they, as much as
everyone else, have a right.

4. It is unfortunate, however, that certain quarters have tried to
undermine our efforts in the cause of justice for the Palestinian
struggle. If they are indeed committed to justice and peace in West Asia,
they should appreciate that we are only trying to achieve the same
objective. There is no cause for them to persuade countries not to
participate in this Conference. That they have done so vindicates those
who question their sincerity and sense of justice. Israel will now be more
intransigent than ever.

Distinguished delegates, 

5. The fundamental issues involved in the question of Palestine are well
known to all of us. We have a case here where an entire people have been
driven out of their homeland, humiliated and endlessly harassed. In this
regard, for over three decades the international community has been
ineffective. The injustice and indignities perpetrated on the Palestinian
people have been repeatedly voiced in the United Nations, and countless
resolutions have been passed. But, the cruelty towards, and the
persecution of the Palestinian people continue unabated.

6. The Palestinian people have suffered enough. If we have any conscience,
we must endeavour to find a solution to end this injustice inflicted on
them not because they did wrong but because others wish to assuage their
conscience. The supporters of Israel, who claim to be the champions of
human rights, must now forsake hypocrisy and double standards, and
effectively apply pressure on the Israeli regime in order that it will
cease its intransigence and belligerency. There has never been any
parallel in history where a political entity has been created to supplant
an existing rightful state and the new entity supplied with the most
lethal weapons to perpetuate aggression against the people they had
displaced. If the world continues to be blind and deaf to Israeli
expansionism and aggression, others will be encouraged to commit similar
crimes elsewhere. The world community must stand firm in upholding the
basic principle that aggression is not any more the solution to racial or
national conflicts. We must put a stop to aggression. We must make it
clear to Israel by our action that they cannot continue with their
belligerency. Similarly, we must make clear to others who have violated
this principle that they should cease and desist from such act.

7. The Palestinians are a people. They are a distinct entity. They deserve
the right to their homeland and to exist as a member of an international
community with sovereignty and dignity. Unless this is recognised there
can be no lasting peace in that region. It is in the interest of Israel
too that the Palestinian problem be resolved. Even Israel's mentor must
appreciate this. The Palestinian problem is both a problem of justice as
well as of world-wide security, and it is in the interest of humanity that
it should be resolved.

8. It is almost unbelievable that in an age when colonised territories
have gained, or are gaining independence and sovereignty, the Palestinians
are not only denied independence but they are actually hounded from their
homeland. The world community, if it is committed to the principle of
freedom and self-government must see to it that the Palestinians regain
their rights to an independent State of their own. It is immoral for a
handful of nations at the United Nations to ask the Palestinian people or
its exclusive representative, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO),
to acquiesce to pre-conditions that amounts to surrender. It is even more
wrong to refuse to recognise the PLO because of some acts of terror by
people who claim to be its members, more so when the chief of the Israeli
terrorist movement is now recognised as the Prime Minister of Israel. It
is this double standard that has led to the massacres at Sabra and
Shatilla.

9. The question before us today, and in the next few days, is whether this
regional conference is to be a platform for empty rhetoric and
resolutions, or as a forum which will come up with concrete proposals. We
are not gathered here to pass resolutions for the sake of passing
resolutions. There are already over 300 resolutions on the question of
Palestine. The rights of Palestinian self-determination, including the
establishment of an independent State of their own in Palestine, is today
accepted unequivocably by the overwhelming majority at the United
Nations. Decades have passed and the Palestinians are yet to enjoy these
rights. Obviously, we have not acted vigorously and sincerely enough. I
hope that this Conference would come up with definite ideas as to how the
peace plans and initiatives that are already afoot, could enable the
Palestinians to re-enter and regain possession of their rights and
property in their historic homeland, Palestine.

10. Even if there are difficulties in whatever talks that are apace or
have been suspended, this should not prevent us here at this regional
conference from looking beyond, that is to come out with a mechanism as to
how these plans and initiatives could be made to work. The lack of
progress in on-going efforts must not deter us here from proceeding from
where UN resolutions, particularly the recommendations of the UN Committee
on Palestine, have left.

11. This Conference should provide concrete inputs for the ultimate
international conference to be held in Paris later this year. However, it
must be borne in mind that any negotiation should include the PLO. This is
crucial if the current approaches based on the Fez plan, or other
initiatives, are to succeed. We have to accept that the PLO represents all
the Palestinians and that it must be included in all negotiations on the
West Asian settlement as the sole voice of Palestinian
aspirations. Another important element which should be accepted is that
any talk must have as its objective the reinstitution of an independent
State of Palestine. Finally the big powers, in particular the United
States, should prove to the Palestinian people, and the world at large,
that it would be willing, and able to use its tremendous influence on
Israel to bring about a workable and durable peace settlement in West
Asia, at the core of which is the question of Palestinian
self-determination and right to their own homeland in Palestine.

Distinguished delegates, 

12. The Palestinian problem has been with us for far too long. We must,
therefore, approach the problem with a greater sense of urgency and
commitment. Let us hope that the series of conferences on the Palestinian
problem would bring us closer to a workable solution. We are here not
because we are allied to the Palestinian people because of race or
religion, but because we believe in justice for all humanity, and the
Palestinian people are as much a part of that world community as are we
all. We owe it to the Palestinian people to restore to them their rights
and dignity. No one, but no one, deserves to be hounded from their home,
permanent or temporary, time and time again as are the
Palestinians. Surely the world which has such a guilty conscience over the
past ill-treatment of Jews by the Nazis, must have some conscience over
the injustice and oppression that is being suffered by the Palestinians
right now in our times.

13. May God give you the wisdom and courage to seek justice in this period
of human civilisation.

Thank you.

 



 


 











 
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