Former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat may have converted to Christianity before his death ten years ago, according to a prominent Christian writer and speaker. Dr RT Kendall told Premier Christianity magazine of how he struck up an unlikely friendship with Arafat and prayed with him, the Telegraph has reported.
Kendal, who was the former minister of Westminster Chapel in London, was granted a rare 20 minute meeting with Arafat, during which he told him that he had prayed for him every day for 20 years. Arafat was apparently taken with Kendal, and the planned one off meeting ended up lasting an hour and 45 minutes, and became the first of five.
During their discussions, Kendal was able to speak to Arafat about Jesus’ death and resurrection, delivering the gospel message of forgiveness of sins through Christ. Despite interpreters’ efforts to shut down the discussion, Arafat insisted on listening.
“It wouldn’t surprise me to see him in heaven,” said US-born Kendall. “I’ll tell you why. I prayed with him five times, anointed him with oil, I gave him a [salvation] prayer… I’m not saying I know that he’s saved; I’m saying I wouldn’t be surprised.”
On his third visit, Kendal brought a copy of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, which the two men watched together, along with 30 members of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). Arafat wept as he watched the depicted execution of Jesus, and afterwards allowed Kendal to pray for him.
“He took my hand and squeezed it,” he said. “He was sending me a signal and I knew I was getting through.”
The 11th November marked ten years since the death of Arafat in a Paris hospital, after a developing a sudden undiagnosed illness. His successor, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, marked the anniversary by delivering a speech in Ramallah, in which he declared “He who surrenders one grain of the soil of Palestine and Jerusalem is not one of us.”
Commenting on the speech, Khaled Abu Toameh of the Gatestone Insitutute warned that US Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace process was exacerbating the situation between Israel and the Palestinians, by forcing Abbas to further radicalise his people.
“Like Arafat, Abbas has become hostage to his own rhetoric. How can Abbas be expected to accept any deal that does not include 100 percent of his demands – in this instance, all territory captured by Israel in 1967?” says Toameh.
“Abbas himself knows that if he comes back with 97 percent or 98 percent of his demands, his people will either spit in is face or kill him, after accusing him of being a “defeatist” and “relinquishing Palestinian rights.””
He warns that, having talked himself into a hole, Abbas’s only recourse is to appeal to the UN Security Council and International Community to grant him all of his demands.
“Abbas is well aware that his people will condemn him if he ever returns to the negotiating table with Israel. That is why he has now chosen a different strategy – to try to impose a solution with the help of the United Nations and the international community.
“Abbas wants the international community and UN Security Council to give him what Israel cannot and will not offer him at the negotiating table.”