The Athens Olympics 2004:
Yasser Arafat announces a "truce"

London - published on 11 August 2004
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The Palestinians are sending a swimmer and a runner to the Athens Olympics, taking place in August 2004. At a press conference in the West Bank town of Ramallah, held on 26 June and attended by journalists and foreign diplomats, Yasser Arafat announced:-

“I undertake to you our commitment and respect for a truce during the Olympics.”

He then lit an Olympic torch, and called on Israel to work with the Palestinians for a peaceful future (reported by Reuters, 26 June).

Our comment

Yasser Arafat routinely states that he does not control the Palestinian violence. Most Palestinian spokespeople repeat that claim in front of Western audiences.
If Mr Arafat does not control the violence, how can he declare a “truce”?

Here’s our answer: Mr Arafat may not control every individual act of violence, but in the Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade he has an infamous terror group (see Briefing 22) under his wing (currently in semi-rebellion). More important still, Mr Arafat sets the atmosphere for a culture of violence throughout Palestinian society (see Briefing 70) – and he knows it. The violence over which he presides is cruel, nihilistic, authoritarian and frustrates Palestinian rights.

Mr Arafat’s Olympic “truce” has revealed a telling truth.