Israel Blasts Arafat's 'Inflammatory' Speech

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:10 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Israel on Monday branded as "inflammatory and inciteful" a speech by Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat over the weekend in which he declared that Palestinian men, women, children would fight until Judgment Day, when the Palestinians will take over Jerusalem as their capital.

"The speech is inflammatory and inciteful despite the fact that Arafat has repeatedly committed himself to restoring calm and quiet," Minister Tzipi Livni's office said in a statement.

The issue of Jerusalem is one of the key friction points in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Speaking to the Palestine General Confederation of Trade Unions in Gaza, Arafat said that the Palestinians were still waging what he called a "holy defensive war" 104 years after the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland.

Jewish leaders first spoke of the need to establish a Jewish homeland in the ancient Holy Land at that congress. At the time, the Holy Land was part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire.

"We are still on this land and we are still fighting and struggling with strength and determination in order to prove that this people will win!" Arafat said.

"We are standing before an important stage in light of what they are preparing in their 'Oranim' plan, a hellish plan, which they expect our people to be afraid of," he continued.

"These massacres only strengthen the resolve and faith of our people. We will continue, God willing, on this path until a Palestinian child is able to unfurl the Palestinian flag atop the walls of Jerusalem, its mosques and its churches, the Jerusalem that will be, God willing, the capital of the State of Palestine...

"This is the will of our people and the aspiration of the Arab nation and free people all over the world... I know that we are on a difficult journey however they [Israel] are subject to a defensive holy war until Judgment Day," he added.

"Arafat challenges the very existence of Israel and the Zionist idea that the Jewish people will find a solution in the Land of Israel," said Livni. Furthermore, she said, there is no "Oranim" plan.

According to a map on the web site of the International Press Center of the Palestinian National Authority Information Service, there is no Israel. The entire map of Israel and the disputed territories is labeled Palestine. Major Israeli cities such as Tel Aviv do not exist.

Arafat's comments follow declarations earlier this month by President Bush and other world leaders that they back the eventual establishment of a Palestinian State. Unconfirmed media reports suggested that that support included establishing Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state.

The Vatican said last year that it has never asked Arafat to represent Christian interests in Jerusalem. Last year, more than 100,000 Evangelical Christians from around the world presented a petition to Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, saying they backed Israel's exclusive rule in the city.

Divided by barbed wire into Jordanian and Israeli sections in 1948, Jerusalem was reunited under Israeli sovereignty as a result of the 1967 Six Day war.

Israel declared Jerusalem as its eternal, indivisible capital, although most nations of the world have never recognized it as such.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak went further than any other Israeli leader in offering the Palestinians limited rule in the city. But that offer - brokered by former President Bill Clinton as part of a comprehensive deal - was rejected by Arafat in the summer of 2000.