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Yasser Arafat: Speeches Denounce Violence then Calls for Martyrdom

(December 2001)

On December 16, 2001, increasing international pressure persuaded Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to address the issues of terrorism. Speaking in Arabic on Palestinian television, Arafat called on the Palestinian people to end "all military activities" against Israel. He also said, "I renew the call to completely halt any activities, especially suicide attacks, which we have condemned and always condemned."

In a warning to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Arafat said he would "only allow one authority" in the areas under his control. "We must not allow anyone to shake the credibility" of the Palestinian Authority´s "leadership and its decisions," he said and vowed to prosecute those who ignored his directives. "We will punish all planners" of terror attacks, Arafat said. "We will hunt down the violators firmly."

Arafat also accused Israeli officials of "launching a brutal war" against the Palestinian Authority and its institutions, and urging them to return to peace talks.

Almost immediately after the speech, militant Palestinian groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, rejected Arafat's call for an end to terrorism.

Just two days later (December 18, 2001), however, Chairman Arafat delivered a vastly different speech to rally in Ramallah. In that speech, he stated the following:

With God´s help, next time we will meet in Jerusalem, because we are fighting to bring victory to our prophets, every baby, every kid, every man, every woman and every old person and all the young people, we will all sacrifice ourselves for our holy places and we will strengthen our hold of them and we are willing to give 70 of our martyrs for every one of theirs in this campaign, because this is our holy land. We will continue to fight for this blessed land and I call on you to stand strong.

Sources: JTA