Nabil Sha'ath, the Palestinian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, in Al-Manar, September 14, 1998: "The question of the establishment of the Palestinian State and its declaration were not included, according to The Oslo Accords, in the agenda of the final status negotiations. There is no way that we could possibly agree to this. A declaration of the Palestinian State is the right of the Palestinian people, who hold sovereignty of its land. It is impossible that we will accept any involvement of the occupation rule in this matter. We are conducting negotiations concerning the borders and not the sovereignty of the land.
Until today, 200,000 Palestinians have [already] returned [through the Oslo Accords.]
The basis of the Palestinian claim for the return of the refugees is a comprehensive return. This was included in the framework of negotiations on the final status, and speaks mainly about the refugees following the 1948 [war.] The question of the refugees and their return represents the most crucial issue in negotiations on the final status. We cannot under any circumstances give up claims to their full return in the course of these negotiations."
Abu Mazen, Secretary of the Executive Committee of the PLO in Al-Sha`ab, September 14, 1998: "I am of the opinion that The Oslo Agreement amounts to the highest point in the most important struggle that the Palestinian people have fought in this century. Despite all the obstacles that stand in the way of the agreement, we still believe that the Oslo Agreement represents the best of all options available to us and that all other options (that stood before us), would have led us to destruction. All the difficulties [we are now facing] combined can not erase the differences between our situation at the time of the declaration of a state in exile (1988), and our present situation. As of today, we are establishing a state on a part of the land. According to our understanding, the final status needs to lead towards the establishment of an independent Palestinian State that covers all of the land of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and whose capital is Jerusalem that was conquered in 1967. It is necessary to rid this state of all the settlers and to solve the problem of the refugees on the basis of legitimate, international decisions passed on this issue. Every concession, even verbal, will cause us to lose everything."
Abu`Alaa, Chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council, in Al-Ayyam, September 13, 1998: "The trust [between the two sides] was wounded the moment that Likud came to power in Israel. The Oslo Accord represented for us the first necessary step towards shedding away the ghosts of the Israeli occupation.
Israel recognized for the first time since its establishment on the land of Palestine and at the expense of the Palestinian people, that there exists a Palestinian people who have a spiritual, cultural and physical presence, and that this people will have its own independent political rights.
Despite the fact that the Palestinian Authority has not yet been able to fulfill 'the right of return,’ due to its abiding by the conditions of the interim agreement concerning Palestinian refugees - it has still nonetheless succeeded in returning more than a hundred and fifty thousand Palestinians to their homeland [through the Oslo Accords.] This is part of our great ambition, to return all of the Palestinian refugees, our people, to their Palestinian towns and villages and to obtain for them reparations for the losses and the suffering that was inflicted upon them since 1948."