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May 19, 2004 Special Dispatch No. 717

Arafat: 'No One in This World Has the Right to Concede the Refugees' Right to Return to Their Homeland; The Palestinian Heroes Will Fight for This Right'

May 19, 2004
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 717

On May 15, 2004, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat addressed the Palestinian people on the occasion of the 56th anniversary of the Nakba (Catastrophe of 1948). The following is the speech in full, which was also broadcast on PA TV: [1]

"In the name of Allah the Merciful and the Compassionate, 'Endure thou patiently (Oh Muhammad). Thine endurance is only by (the help of) Allah. Grieve not for them, and be not in distress because of that which they devise [Koran 16:127].'

"In the name of Allah the Merciful and the Compassionate, 'And we wished to be gracious to those who were being downtrodden in the land, to make them leaders (in faith) and make them heirs [28:5].'

"[Oh] sons of our people, who are steadfast and dwell across the homeland and in the refugee camps in the diaspora, the sons of our people, the refugees and the uprooted, who were unjustly expelled from their homeland Palestine: Today is Nakba Day, May 15, the day the Palestinian people was expelled by force of arms, aggression, and massacre, in a progression of conspiracy, plotting, helplessness, false promises, harm to the U.N. resolutions, and implementation of the resolutions of the 1897 [First] Zionist Congress in Basel against our people, our land, and the places sacred to Christianity and Islam.

"The Palestinian people, that is bowed [under the yoke of] occupation, wandering through its homeland and refugee and homeless outside its homeland, must know how and why the Nakba happened. This day – a black day – is a critical and dangerous turning point with regard to its painful and grave consequences for our Palestinian people, the people of heroes, the entire Arab region, and the entire world, ever since Sykes-Picot. But our Palestinian people is still in a state of bitter ongoing conflict, paved with many victims on this blessed land, in defense of it and the holy places at the front and of the Arab nation, so that our land and the land of [our] fathers, Palestine, will not be lost.

"The patient, deep-rooted, and noble Palestinian people will defend and struggle, sacrificing many victims for the sake of its freedom, its land, and its holy places. Our people has been exposed to a greatNakba,forced upon it by the international, imperialist, and Zionist elements that participated in it. By using strength, violence, massacres, plots, conspiracy, and aggression, they deluded themselves that they could give something to someone not entitled to it but their hopes were dashed.

"Our people answered [them], with Allah's help and will, and they fell into the trap they had set for others. The Palestinian people did not die, and continued in heroic-mythological steadfastness, and quickly this holy land and the refugee camps in the diaspora became fortresses of dedication, sacrifice, steadfastness, and revolution, in order to announce to the world that Palestine is the homeland of the Palestinian people, that has no other homeland, and that this people will not agree to any substitute for its homeland throughout time, because this land, the land of Palestine, is the land of [our] forefathers.

"The Palestinian cause was revived thanks to the hands of fighting construction, which removed the disgrace and defeat of the Nakba, and forced the Palestinian cause on the entire international community and on the enemies. As you remember, the eternal Arab leader Gamal Abd Al-Nasser declared before the world: 'The Palestinian movement exists in order to remain, and in order to triumph, because we have the true right in this land throughout history.'

"My brothers and friends, the movement of the revolution arrived, and its first message was sent in early January '65, a clear message to the entire world, and in it our people said that the Nakba that struck it and caused dispersal of millions of Palestinians is not a destiny that cannot be fought.

"Indeed, this revolutionary roar was the voice of the Palestinian people, and the voice of the Palestinian refugees, who resisted the Nakba, the situation of forced refugeehood, and persisted in continuing to defend this homeland and the holy places, out of faith in the justice of their cause and in the return to this homeland.

"The Palestinians have nothing more precious than their blessed land and the places holy to Christianity and Islam. In vain they have tried to divert and eliminate the convoy, by means of plotting, conspiracy, and backstabbing, but the desire of our people is drawn from the will of God. The convoy continued with full force, without stopping, hesitation, or fear. With the help of Allah, be He exalted, one of our boys and one of our girls will yet wave the Palestinian flag above the walls of Jerusalem, its churches, and its mosques. [They] see it to be distant, [but] we see it to be near.

"In the name of Allah the Merciful and the Compassionate, 'And they will enter the mosque as they had entered it before, and to visit with destruction all that fell into their power. [17:7].'

"The sons of our people and our beloved who stand fast in the homeland and in the refugee camps: Today, after 56 years of the Nakba, behold the Palestinian people, the people of the brave, that proves that Palestine is not a land without a people, but a people of whom the whole world talks, about its heroism, dedication, steadfastness, and the courage of its sons and daughters in the face of the occupying and aggressive Israeli military strength, that tries in vain to stop the wheels of history, that is, the movement of the Palestinian people against historic injustice that struck our people unjustly. We tell our people, from the heart of the fiery furnace in Palestine, and for the sake of Palestine and the Palestinian people and its refugees who have no other homeland; we tell the sons of our people that Palestine will rise up because Palestine and its people are an historic and religious determinant of this blessed nation that recreates it every day.

"There is no place for occupation and settlements in our land, not even [the Israeli] racist fence. There is no doubt that this is temporary, by virtue of your steadfastness and your faith.

"The right of the refugees to return to their homeland Palestine is a sacred right protected by the U.N. resolutions. The hands of the Palestinian heroes, who stand fast, will fight for this right, against the occupation and against the Israeli settlements, and not only against this Israeli cancer. We will fight by means of the Palestinian hands against the aggression and against the racist fence of the annexation and the racist expansion, in defense of the places holy to the Muslims and Christians; 'and they [the Palestinians] are on the front line until Judgment Day.'

"Oh refugees in the steadfast camps, no one in this world has the right to concede the refugees' right to return to their homeland, and the Israeli government will never be able to rid itself of the moral, political, and international responsibility for the tragedy that befell the Palestinian refugees.

"The cause of the refugees is a cause of people and of land, a cause of homeland and of national destiny. There will be no concession and there will be no compromise. Likewise, there will be no settling of the refugees [in Arab countries]. Furthermore, every Palestinian refugee has the sacred right to return to his homeland Palestine according to the U.N. resolutions, headed by Resolution 194 concerning the refugee return.

"We emphasize our steadfast commitment to establish a just, comprehensive, and durable peace – a peace of the brave – in this holy land and in the entire region, in accordance with the U.N. resolutions and for the sake of both peoples, the Palestinian and the Israeli – in good neighborly relations, mutual respect, and for the sake of a prosperous future for your children and their children.

"I say to the Israeli people and to the forces of peace in it that our hand is outstretched to you to establish a peace of the brave in this land.

"Oh, [you] who stand fast in camps of the diaspora and in refugeehood, from the heart of the fiery furnace in Palestine, in confrontation with the Israeli evil, aggression, occupation, settlements, and arrogance, I bless you, oh my beloved, oh sons of Palestine, in the homeland, in the diaspora and in forced exile. I say to you: Palestine is your homeland, whether sooner or later. The steadfastness is mythological steadfastness. The persistence is serious persistence. The unity is noble unity. The patience is the patience of the faithful, the strong. We own the land, the history, the homeland, and the right. Behind the right that was lost stand demands. Our lives, our history, and our future we will build with the hands of our men and our women. The promise stands and the vow is valid, and we are the ones who are right.

"Oh those who stand fast in the homeland in the refugee camps and in the diaspora: The comprehensive war of annihilation, the destruction, the killing, and the expulsion that the Israeli occupation forces are directing, from Rafiahgrad to Jeningrad and places between, and particularly in the Al-Zeitoun neighborhood and other neighborhoods in Gaza, Beit Hanoun, Khan Younis, Dir Al-Ballah, Nablus, Hebron, Tulkarm, Qalqiliya, Jericho, and Bethlehem, that were recently reconquered and turned into the same closed military zone. All this will not dissuade our people from continuing to show steadfastness that will not be weakened and unmatched dedication in the face of Israel's military arrogance in this time, a time of challenge.

"Our people will continue to dwell in our land, united and proud of the wonderful national unity, that is manifested in the face of the hostile Israeli attack. And we will recall all the precious fallen, the fallen of freedom and the pure fallen. We bless our wounded heroes and wish them a speedy recovery.

"Our people will stand facing this challenge united and proud of the wonderful national unity that is manifested in the face of the hostile Israeli attack to return to their places. We will salute with esteem the men and women prisoners, our hero brothers in the [Israeli] prisons, and we will tell them that the dawn will yet break.

"In the name of Allah the Merciful and the Compassionate, 'Prepare against them what force you can and horses tied at the frontier, to frighten thereby the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them, whom you do not know (but) Allah knows them [Koran 8:60].'"

"In the name of Allah, the Merciful and the Compassionate, 'And if they incline to peace, incline thou also to it, and trust in Allah. [Koran 8:61].'

"Until our independent Palestinian state will be established, with holy Jerusalem as its capital.'"


[1] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), May 16, 2004.

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