PLO Leader Yasser Arafat Calls For a Jihad to Recapture Jerusalem

May 10, 1994

In a closed-door address at a Johannesburg mosque, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat delivers a brief speech in which he calls for a jihad to liberate Jerusalem.  The speech is secretly recorded by a South African journalist and subsequently broadcast on Israeli radio.  Arafat’s remarks come just days after the signing of the Gaza-Jericho Agreement in Cairo and only three days before Israeli forces will withdraw from Jericho.  Arafat is in South Africa to attend the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as President.

Arafat declares,

And long after this agreement (1993 Oslo Agreement) which is the first step and not more than that, believe me. There is a lot to be done. The jihad will continue and Jerusalem is not for the Palestinian People. It is for all the Muslim Uma, all the Muslim Uma. You are responsible for Palestine and for Jerusalem before me.

In addition to calling for the jihad on Jerusalem, Arafat also compares the unpopularity of the agreement with Israel among Muslims with the Hudaybiyyah Treaty signed by Muhammed in 628.  In that treaty, Muhammad agreed to a ten year truce with the Quraysh tribe who controlled Mecca.  After Quraysh supporters murdered some of Muhammad’s allies, Muhammad declared the treaty void and conquered Mecca.  Some listeners will believe that Arafat’s comparison of the Oslo agreement with the Hudaybiyyah Treaty is proof that he was just waiting for the right moment to violate the agreement with Israel.

The speech will draw condemnation from Israeli and American officials who will demand clarification.  It will provide fuel for those who oppose an agreement with the PLO and Arafat.

The photo shows PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli President Ezer Weizman shaking hands in front of South African President-elect Nelson Mandela on May 9, 1994.