Arafat’s Notable Words on War and Peace

Publication Date: 
Fri, 2004-11-05 03:00

RAMALLAH, 5 November 2004 — Over the years, Yasser Arafat’s words turned from war to peace in his struggle for a Palestinian state. As head of the Palestine Liberation Organization since the 1960s and Palestinian president since the 1990s, in speeches and in interviews, he has had some notable quotes:

1968 - “Zionism is an embodiment of neo-Nazism ..., intellectual terrorism and racial exploitation.”

1969 - “Our new generation is tired of waiting for something to happen. Isn’t it better to die bringing down your enemy than to await a slow, miserable death rotting in a tent in the desert?”

• “We do not have an ideology. Our goal is the liberation of our fatherland by any means necessary.”

1972 - “The end of Israel is the goal of our struggle, and it allows for neither compromise nor mediation... We don’t want peace. We want war, victory.”

1974 - Addressing the United Nations General Assembly: “I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter’s gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hands.”

1980 - “I am with the current of history and those with the current of history will win. Those against it will vanish.”

1983 - Commenting on the Israeli Army after its 1982 invasion forced the PLO to flee Beirut: “By God, I have not found it invincible... I wish all my nation was with me to see the feebleness of this army.”

1988 - “Neither (I) nor anyone for that matter can stop the intifada (Palestinian uprising)... The intifada will come to an end only when practical and tangible steps have been taken toward the achievement of our national aims.”

Nov 15 - “The Palestine National Council, in the name of God, and in the name of the Palestinian Arab people, proclaims the establishment of the state of Palestine on our Palestinian land, with Jerusalem as its capital.”

Dec 14 - “(We accept) the right of all parties concerned with the Middle East conflict to exist in peace and security, including - as I said - the state of Palestine, Israel and other neighbors in accordance with (UN) Resolutions 242 and 338... We totally and categorically reject all forms of terrorism, including individual, group and state terrorism.”

1991 - On pressing Israel to agree to trade occupied land for peace: “We are not asking for the moon.”

1992 - After surviving a plane crash in the Libyan desert: “I’m well and thanks to all.”

1993 - At the Sept. 13 White House signing of interim peace accords with Israel: “Our people do not consider that exercising the right to self-determination could violate the right of their neighbors or infringe on their security. Rather, putting an end to their feelings of being wronged and of having suffered a historic injustice is the strongest guarantee to achieve coexistence and openness between our two peoples and future generations. Our two peoples are awaiting today this historic hope, and they want to give peace a real chance.”

1994 - On historic homecoming to Gaza: “I am very happy. My heart was overwhelmed by longing to see the homeland.”

- “The most important challenge for us is to build a new Palestinian Authority which will lead to a new independent state, a new democratic state.”

1995 - On the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin: “I am very sad and very shocked for this awful and terrible crime against one of the brave leaders of Israel and the peacemakers.”

1996 - On suicide bombings in Israel by Muslim militants: “We are confronting terror and we will confront terror and uproot it from our land because our dream of freedom, independence and self-determination could not prosper and be fulfilled amid a sea of tears and blood, but with thorough work to confront the terror of these extremist and dangerous wings from Hamas and Jihad”.

- After the election of extreme right-wing Benjamin Netanyahu as Israeli prime minister: “The Israeli people have voted against peace. They want peace with Jordanians, they want peace with Egyptians but they don’t want peace with Palestinians.”

- On the first anniversary of Rabin’s assassination: “Shalom haver (‘farewell friend’ in Hebrew). I miss you.”

1997 - “With Rabin, I started the peace of the brave and many things were going smoothly, according to what had been agreed upon. But this (Netanyahu’s) government, until now, is not respecting the implementation of what has been signed.”

- “We say that there can be no peace without Jerusalem and no peace with (Jewish) settlements.”

1998 - On Israel’s 50th anniversary and the catastrophe which Palestinians said befell them when the Jewish state was born: “We have a place under the sun.”

- On a future state: “In accordance with the Oslo agreement, the interim period is five years, so it must end by May 4, 1999. By that day we can declare our independent Palestinian state.”

- “If Netanyahu opposes this, let him drink the Dead Sea water.”

2003 - On the possibility of dying under Israeli siege in Ramallah: “I am a Palestinian soldier... I will use my gun to defend not only myself but also defend every Palestinian child, woman and man and to defend the Palestinian existence.”

2004 - On being airlifted in stretcher to France for urgent medical care after 2 1/2 years of confinement to West Bank headquarters by Israeli Army: “God willing, I will come back.”

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