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Arafat's Johannesburg Speech

Below are excerpts from a speech given by PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat on May 10, 1994, in a mosque in Johannesburg, South Africa. The text was transcribed directly from a tape recording of Arafat's address. Arafat's English is far from perfect, and his grammer is often choppy. Editorial comments and clarifications are in square brackets.

Arafat: Jihad to Liberate Jerusalem

The Jihad [Islamic holy war] will continue, and Jerusalem is not [only] for the Palestinian people, it is for all the Muslim nation.

You are responsible for Palestine and for Jerusalem before me [applause], the land which had been blessed for the whole world.

Now after this agreement you have to understand our main battle.

Our main battle is Jerusalem. Jerusalem. The first shrine of the Moslems.

This has to be understood for everybody and for this I was insisting before signing to have a letter from them, the Israelis, that Jerusalem is one of the items which has to be under discussion and not the state, the permanent State of Israel! No! It is the permanent State of Palestine [applause]. Yes, it is the permanent State of Palestine.

And in this letter it is very important for everybody to know I insist to mention and they have written it, and I have this letter, I didn't declare and publish it until now. In this letter we are responsible for all the Christian and the Moslem and Islamic holy sacred places.

I have to speak frankly, I can't do it alone without the support of the Islamic nation. I can't do it alone. No, you have to come and to fight and to start the Jihad to liberate Jerusalem, your first shrine.

In the agreement I insist with my colleagues, with my brothers, to mention that not exceeding the beginning of the third year, and after -- directly after -- the signing of their agreement, to start discussing the future of Jerusalem. The future of Jerusalem.

What they are saying is that [Jerusalem] is their capital. No, it is not their capital. It is our capital. It is the first shrine of the Islam and the Moslems.

This agreement, I am not considering it more than the agreement which had been signed between our prophet Mohammed and Koraish, and you remember the Caliph Omar had refused this agreement and [considered] it a despicable truce.

[Ed. note: The agreement with Koraish allowed Mohammed to pray in Mecca, which was under Koraish control, for ten years. When Mohammed grew stronger two years later, he abrogated the agreement, slaughtered the tribe of Koraish and conquered Mecca.]

But Mohammed had accepted it and we are accepting now this peace offer. But to continue our way to Jerusalem, to the first shrine together and not alone.

We are in need of you as Moslems, as warriors of Jihad [in Arabic, Mujaheddin].

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