November 17, 1998 Special Dispatch No. 13

Arafat’s Speech to a 'Fatah' conference

November 17, 1998
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 13

Yasir Arafat, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, delivered a speech in a 'Fatah' conference in Ramallah on the tenth anniversary of the 'Palestinian Declaration of Independence' that was marked on November 15. In response to this speech, which was first translated by MEMRI, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, in a speech to the Knesset, said that if Arafat did not retract his comments about ready rifles and a declaration of an Palestinian state on May 4, 1999, he would suspend further redeployment [1]. Following are excerpts from Arafat’s speech:

"The Palestinian revolution is a great revolution. Let 'the far' and 'the near' know that the Palestinian rifle is ready and we will aim it if they try to prevent us from praying in Jerusalem... There are agreements and they better be carried out, because the 'generals of the stones' [i.e. the children of the Intifada] are ready."[2]

"We chose the 'Peace of the Brave' out of faith in [the conduct of] the Prophet in the 'Hudaybiyeh Agreement.'[3] We adopted this agreement, the 'Agreement of the Brave.' Whoever thinks he can 'play' with us regarding the 'Agreement of the Brave,' should know that we are a people of giants... A people of giants."

"We have been the subject of this onslaught for a hundred years. In 1897, in the Zionist Congress in Basle, [Hertzl] said: 'a land with no people to a people with no land.' For a hundred years we have faced this enormous global power [i.e. Zionism] and our people are still steadfast in Jerusalem. Yes, we will establish a state on May 4, 1999."[4]

"The Right of Return is sacred and the heated battle over it is fundamental and important... 55% of our people are refugees and I am one of them. The number of the Palestinian refugees reaches four and a half million and they are spread from Chile to Sydney, through Lebanon, Syria, the Gulf states, Libya, Algiers, Tunisia, the Sudan, and Yemen. The number of the displaced is more than 860 thousands. They were uprooted from their homes by the force of rifle-bullets in 1967. The purpose in their expulsion was to empty this land of its legal owners - the Palestinians."

"By signing the 'Wye Plantation Agreement' with the Israeli Likud government, we managed to shatter the slogan of the Israeli extremists regarding 'the Greater Israel'. The 'Washington Accord' put an end to this expansionist dream and to the false Israeli claims that the land of Israel spreads from the Nile to the Euphrates."

"The heroes of the Intifada are entitled to the credit of returning the Palestinian People to the geopolitical map despite the attempts and plots of erasing it, and we are ready to start it [i.e. the Intifada] all over again."[5]

[1] 'Israeli Radio,’ November 17, 1998.

[2] Al-Ayyam, November 16, 1998.

[3] This agreement was a ten year truce signed between the Prophet Muhammad and the Qureish tribe in 637, Muhammad violated the agreement 18 months later and occupied Mecca.

[4] 'Palestine Television,’ November 15, 1998.

[5] Al-Hayat Al-JadidaI, November 16, 1998.

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