December 21, 2001 Special Dispatch No. 317

Recent Statements By Yasser Arafat

December 21, 2001
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 317

In addition to a televised address to the Palestinian people in which he called for the cessation of martyrdomoperations and mortar attacks against Israel, Palestinian Authority and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat recently madeseveral statements which were not widely reported on by the Western media. The following are excerpts from twospeeches and an interview as reported by Arabic media sources:

An Address to Jerusalemites (Ramallah, December 18, 2001):[1]
"Oh you who stand fast, oh heroes on the land of the 'night journey and ascension to heaven [of the Prophet Muhammad as told in the Koran],' on the land of the first direction of prayer, oh heroes in the third most holy site [in Islam], in the birthplace of Jesus and the place of our master Muhammad's ascension to heaven.[2]

"I tell you that we are now in a historic stage… you are defending the first direction of prayer and the third most holy site, the site of the Messiah's birth, your steadfastness is most important not only for Palestine and not only for the Arab nation, but also for all the Christians and Muslims in the world…"

"Oh brothers, there is a conspiracy to Judaize Jerusalem, therefore I tell you, oh my comrades to this journey, you are standing now at the frontline of battle in the midst of challenging, in Jerusalem, you are blessed to be in this region…"

"The Prophet said 'there still exists a group within my nation who is keeping the faith, who are challenging their enemy and who cannot be harmed by their enemy and they shall be the victorious, Allah willing.'"

"The Prophet was asked: 'Where are they [located]?' and replied, 'in Jerusalem and its surroundings and they shall remain on the frontline until judgment day.' Indeed, you are in the frontline. I am committed to it, I am committed to it, I am committed to it. Oh mountain, no wind can shake you."

"No one can rule that nation of giants [i.e., the Palestinian people]. One-hundred and four years passed since the first [Zionist] convention in Basle [Switzerland, 1897] where it was claimed that our land is 'a land without a people for a people without a homeland [i.e., the Jews].' When Golda Meir was asked about the Palestinian people she said 'there are no Palestinians.' Today, the martyr Muhammad al-Dura and all our martyrs in paradise tell them: 'We are a nation of giants, we shall defend the frontline[3] land.'"

[Pointing to a little girl, Arafat continued]: "This little cutie is the first of our soldiers, we are encountering a conspiracy to Judaize Jerusalem, but as long as you stand fast at the forefront on this frontline land, no one can harm it… The one who will impose his position will be the nation of giants, Allah willing."

"One of our cubs or one of our flowers [i.e., a male or female Palestinian youth] will wave the flag of Palestine, Allah willing, over the walls of Jerusalem, its churches and its mosques, whether someone likes it or not, and whomever does not like it can drink the water of the Dead Sea."

"I appeal to my beloved in Jerusalem: 'More determination, more strength, more resolve. And Allah willing, we will pray in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Allah willing, Allah willing."

"I say these things so that they be heard by far and near in the whole world, the nation of giants will defend this holy land with its blood, its souls, its property and with everything it has. This land is a holy land, this is the land of our nation of giants, from the cradle to the grave…"

"We stand by the child, by the flower, by the man, by the woman, by the old man, and by the young man. We all redeem the holy Christian and Muslim sites, we will defend them and will strengthen them since this is our destiny, to live on the frontline until judgment day. [Islamic tradition states that] 'One martyr of these is worth seventy' [namely, one martyr on the front line in Jerusalem, is worth seventy martyrs on any other front of Jihad]. Why? Because we are in the holy land…"

"We shall fight on this blessed land, on this blessed land, this is our message and it is not by accident that one-hundred and four years after [the First Zionist Congress] and despite all the conspiracies and all the blood that was spilled, this nation continues to raise its head and its flag, Allah willing, Allah willing. One of our flowers and one of our cubs will wave the flag over the walls of Jerusalem, over its mosques and over its churches…"

In an Interview With the Kuwaiti Daily Al-Rai 'Al-'Am on December 12, 2001:
Arafat spoke of a conspiracy concocted by Prime Ministers Sharon and Barak to bring about a change of government in Israel:[4]

"Barak could have stayed in power for another two and a half years, but the agreement between him and Sharon – following which Sharon went to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which caused the well known massacre of the Friday prayers, as a result of which the Intifada broke out – that agreement [and all of this] was preplanned."

"When Sharon came to power, he asked the Israelis to give him a hundred days to get rid of the Intifada. The hundred days ended and he asked them: 'Give me [an] additional hundred days to carry out my military plan, 'Operation Hell,' and he is still carrying it out…"

Arafat boasted that despite Israeli pressure "no one [amongst the Palestinians said] 'Ahh' [i.e., no one sighed]... Let me give you an example… do you know what a mother of a martyr does when she is informed of the martyrdom of her son? She goes out to the street with cheers of joy saying 'Allah be praised, my son, that you married Palestine rather than your cousin.' This is the Palestinian people."

In the interview, Arafat also stated that "they say that there are half a million Jews in Afghanistan whom [the Israelis] want to bring to the West Bank and to the Gaza Strip."

Arafat continued by stating: "The extremist forces in Israel killed my late partner Yitzhak Rabin who made peace with me, peace of the brave. This raises doubts about the behavior of some [amongst the Palestinians] who are putting in danger the interests of the Palestinian people and at their head the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital… we have declared a state of emergency because there are some who want to annihilate the Palestinian people."

"There is a conspiracy against the Palestinian people. Therefore, we have to take a few strong steps and apply a tough policy against those who do not abide by the voice of reason and who do not respect the interests of the Palestinian people."

"We began with those who carry out those operations that harm and damage the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian image."

"These people could not find better timing [to carry out martyrdom operations] except the very moment when Sharon went to meet with President Bush with no cards in his hands. They gave Sharon these operations as a present…"

"The Prophet Muhammad was defeated in the Battle of Uhud when a few Muslims came down from the mountains [the battle site] in order to collect the spoils of war. I tell these people: 'Don't let the spoils and support you are getting from the East and West turn into a weapon that hits us and our cause…'"

An "Open Dialogue" With Intellectuals in the Ramallah Casablanca Hotel on December 13, 2001:[5]
"One-hundred and four years have passed since the First Zionist Congress in Basle [Switzerland] and our people still stands fast despite the magnitude of the conspiracy and despite the great numbers of the conspirers, beginning with Sykes-Pikot [1915] to this very day… We are in the heart of this battle with the fullest extent of its meaning and on all levels… but we are committed to it."

Speaking of the role of Arab regimes in the Palestinian struggle, Arafat said:

"[Since 1948] our weapons are confiscated [by Arab rulers]; mine and my comrades Hamed Abu-Sittah have been confiscated during the 'Nakba' War of 1948. They took our weapons, I remind you what Egypt's president Gamal Abd Al Nasser said – that the weapons were kept from us and did not reach us [to be used in the war against Israel]… I know many secrets that could blow up mountains but I don’t want to tell them in front of the press."

[1] WAFA (Palestinian News Agency), Gaza, December 18, 2001.

[2] These statements refer to Jerusalem.

[3] Koranic term used to define the area adjacent to the enemy's land.

[4] Al-Rai 'Al-'am (Kuwait), December 12, 2001.

[5] Al-Hayat (London), December 13, 2001.

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