By Qais Abu Samra
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat on Thursday called on the international community to help Palestinians gain independence from occupation.
Erekat made the remarks in a statement issued on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Palestinian declaration of independence, which is marked each year on Nov. 15.
On Nov. 15, 1988, late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, speaking from Algeria, announced the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
"Palestine is still waiting for the world to fulfill its political, legal and moral responsibility to translate the declaration into reality," Erekat said.
This, he said, could only be achieved "by establishing the State of Palestine on the ground -- with its capital in East Jerusalem -- and ensuring a just solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees”.
He also called for the immediate release of all Palestinians detained by Israel, going on to urge the international community to "compel Israel to meet its legal, political and moral obligations regarding the Palestinian people”.
With the 1988 declaration, Palestine embarked on its current strategy of seeking international recognition as an independent state.
In 2009 and 2010, the second phase of this strategy began, during which several international capitals formally recognized Palestine as a country.
In 2012, the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status at the world body to “non-member observer state”.