In 1964 the Palestine Liberation Organization adopted a charter or covenant calling for the destruction of Israel, declaring the UN partition of Palestine to be null and void and denying that the Jews are a people (See Palestinian National Charter, 1964). It called for destruction of Israel and its replacement by a Palestinian state. In 1968, a revised and more outspoken version of this Charter was approved by the PLO, which added to the provisions of the former a reiterated insistence that only armed struggle and "commando operations" could "liberate" Palestine (Israel).
Obviously these charters are incompatible with a peace agreement with Israel, and it was agreed between the parties to change them following The Oslo Declaration of Principles in 1964
In view of the promise of a new era and the signing of the Declaration of Principles and based on Palestinian acceptance of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the PLO affirms that those articles of the Palestinian Covenant which deny Israel's right to exist, and the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the commitments of this letter are now inoperative and no longer valid. Consequently, the PLO undertakes to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant.
Under the leadership of the PNA and the Fatah, and under extreme pressure from Israel and the U.S., the PLO in fact held several meetings in which some of the offending articles were repealed, with disputed legality.
The current status of the the charter is not definitely established. Some argue that in fact the offending provisions of charter were never repealed. Examining the charter in both revisions shows that if all the offending provisions were repealed there would not be much left of the charter. For example:
The above state clearly that the Palestinian Arabs claim all of the territory of Mandate Palestine and that it cannot be divided, negating a two state solution.
This article seems to call for ethnic cleansing of those Jews who had not "normally resided in Palestine until the beginning of the Zionist invasion:"
Most such Jews "of Palestinian origin" or who had "normally resided in Palestine until the beginning of the Zionist invasion" (probably about 1880 had already died by 1968. Many of their descendants married Zionists. In any case, they are a tiny minority. About 100,000 Jews had lived in the area before 1914. Evidently the majority of the Jews were to be expelled or murdered, but their fate is not specified.
Several articles insist on violence as the only way to solve the Palestinian problem:
This article denies the legality of Palestinian partition:
This article denies the historic connection of the Jews to the land:
The same article denies Jewish peoplehood and of the right to self-determination of the Jewish people:
This statement should be borne in mind when considering the outraged and self righteous protests by Palestinian Arabs when some Israelis deny that there is a Palestinian people or that there was a Palestinian people before 1948.
Accordingly, the Palestinian Liberation Organization and later the Palestinian National Authority agreed to modify the Palestinian National Charter. In his letter of September 9, 1993 to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Fatah leader and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat stated:
In April 1996, the Palestine National Council, the legislative body of the PLO, met in Gaza and voted 504 to 54 to annul sections of the Palestinian National Charter that denied Israel's right to exist, but the charter itself was not been formally changed or re-drafted. Some members of the PLO contended that the vote is invalid. The letter below was sent in 1996 by PNA Chairman Arafat, and supposedly affirms the invalidation of the offending parts of the charter.
The meaning of the Palestinian vote and the importance attached to it is at best dubious:
In January of 1998, Yasser Arafat wrote a letter to President Clinton, again claiming that the charter had been nullified. The letter was quite specific about what parts of the charter were nullified (see Letter of Assurance from PNA Chairman Yasser Arafat). The letter stated in part:
In December 1998, the PLC met again in Gaza to meet the demand of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the offending parts of the charter be formally revoked. US President Clinton attended the meeting. By acclamation, it reaffirmed the cancellation of those parts of the Charter which denied Israel's right to exist, but it did not formally change or re-draft the Covenant.
The revisions that were supposed to admit the legitimacy of Israel are not shown in e in any version of the Charter published by the Palestinian National Authority or the PLO. The Web site of the Palestinian mission to the UN features a statement concerning the changes in the charter but it also displays the 1964 version of the Palestinian National Charter on a separate page, without comment as of December 2009. If the charter has been nullified and replaced by the Palestinian constitution, as some claim, it is highly irregular that the charter is still displayed at an official PLO Web site. The PNA Basic Law or Palestinian constitution does not mention the Palestinian National Charter or claim that it is intended to replace or supersede it. The Web site of the Palestinian National Authority is non-functional at this date.
There is no known official version of a charter replacing the Palestinian National Charter. The status of the nullifications as of 1996, is supposedly stated in the letter below from Chairman Arafat that was posted at the Palestine Media Center (PMC) and taken from the official Palestinian Authority Web site, which is currently unreachable.
December 31, 2009
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Documents / PLO
Source: Palestinian National Authority (PNA)
Letter from Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat to Prime Minister Shimon Peres
May 4, 1996
Mr. Shimon Peres
Prime Minister of Israel
Dear Mr. Peres,
I convey my best wishes to your excellency, and I would like to convey to you the recent historic resolution adopted by the Palestinian National Council at its 21st session held in Gaza city.
As part of our commitment to the peace process, and in adhering to the mutual recognition between the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Government of Israel, the P.N.C. was held in Gaza city between 22-25 of April 1996, and in an extraordinary session decided that the Palestine National Charter is hereby amended by cancelling the provisions that are contrary to the letters exchanged between the P.L.O. and the government of Israel on 9/10 Sept. 1993.
Please find enclosed copies of the official Arabic and English texts of the P.N.C.’s resolutions.
We remain committed to the peace process.
Chairman of the Executive Committee of Palestine Liberation Organization
President of the Palestinian National Authority
The Palestinian National Council, at its 21st session held in the city of Gaza,
Emanating from the declaration of independence and the political statement adopted at its 19th session held in Algiers on Nov. 15, 1988, which affirmed the resolution of conflicts by peaceful means and accepted the two states solution,
And based on the introduction of the Declaration of Principles signed in Washington D.C. on 13 September 1993, which included the agreement of both sides to put an end to decades of confrontation and conflict and to live in peaceful coexistence, mutual dignity and security, while recognizing their mutual legitimate and political right,
And reaffirming their desire to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement and historic reconciliation through the agreed political process,
And based on international legitimacy represented by the United Nations Resolutions relevant to the Palestinian question, including those relating to Jerusalem, Refugees and Settlements, and the other issues of the permanent status and the implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338,
And affirming the adherence of the Palestine Liberation Organization to its commitments deriving from the D.O.P. (Oslo 1), the provisional Cairo Agreement, the letter of mutual recognition signed on 9 and 10 September 1993, the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Oslo 2) signed in Washington D.C. on 28 September 1995, and reconfirm the resolution of the central Council of the P.L.O. adopted in October 1993, which approved the Oslo Agreement and all its annexes,
And based on the principles which constituted the foundation of the Madrid Peace Conference and the Washington negotiations, decides:
1. The Palestinian National Charter is hereby amended by canceling the articles that are contrary to the letters exchanged between the P.L.O. and the Government of Israel 9-10 September 1993.
2. Assigns its legal committee with the task of redrafting the Palestinian National Charter in order to present it to the first session of the Palestinian central council.
Included among the Israeli prime minister's list of current conditions for implementing further redeployments from the West Bank, as agreed, is the demand that the Palestine National Council be convened in order to nullify the articles of the National Charter which refer to Israel's destruction.
In April 1996, the Palestine National Council met in a special session in Gaza City, for the first time on Palestinian territory, with the top item on the agenda being the need to amend the National Charter. Such an amendment can only be authorized by a two-thirds vote of the Council; some key members such as Farouq Qaddoumi, boycotted the session to protest against changing the Charter. However, ultimately the abrogation of certain sections was approved and the matter of drafting amended sections was passed to the PNC's legal committee.
On three different occasions, the Palestinian Authority president has handed over a formal letter certifying the abrogation of specific articles of the Charter: once to then Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres; once recently to Derek Fatchett, minister for foreign affairs for Britain in its capacity as president of the European Union; and once to US president Bill Clinton in late January. On all three occasions, Palestinian fulfillment of their commitment to abrogate parts of the Charter was declared satisfactorily fulfilled.
Twelve articles have been entirely annulled, along with sections of an additional 16.
In his letter to secretary of state Albright, Arafat specified the articles, which had been fully abrogated, emphasizing that they would not be present in any future official printing of the Charter. Those fully nullified are articles: 6-10, 15, 19-23, and 30. The articles, which have been nullified in part, are: 1-5,11-14,16-18,25-27, and 29.
However, no redrafted Charter has yet emerged, and the PLO executive committee meeting did not ratify the letter from Arafat to Clinton, which specified the amendments to the Charter. On the basis of this, the Israeli government is calling for the Palestine National Council to convene, stating that amendment of the Charter has not taken place. Palestinians feel that their obligation was to abrogate those sections of the Charter, which call for the destruction of Israel “ and that this obligation has been fulfilled. Furthermore, they feel that this fulfillment having been recognized by the government of Shimon Peres, this current Israeli government has no right to demand a say in what should replace the voided sections, particularly since the Palestinians had every right to expect quid pro quo “ a similar Israeli fulfillment of their contractual obligations under the Oslo Accords.
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