Palestinian National Covenant

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The Covenant was adopted at the time of the establishment of the PLO, in 1964. At this time, Arabs ruled the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem. Therefore this document's statement about Israel refer explicitly to Israel's rpre-1967 borders. The covenant defines the ideology of the PLO. It can only be changed by a vote of a 2/3 majority of the entire PLO National Council.

Articles 15, 19, 20, 22, and 23 of the Covenant explicitly deny Israel’s right to exist. Articles 1-6, 8, 11-14, 16-18, 21, 24-26, 28 and 29 implicitly deny the State of Israel’s right to exist. These articles claim that Palestinian Arabs have the sole right to all of the land. Articles 7, 9 and 10 call all Arabs to support an armed struggle against the State of Israel. Articles 27 and 30 indirectly call for violence. 30 of the 33 articles in the Covenant effectively deny Israel’s right to exist.

The Oslo I peace treaty required the PLO to "submit the [PLO Covenant] to the Palestinian National Council [PNC] for.. .the necessary changes". This was to be done so that all of the articles of the Covenant which deny Israel’s right to exist" would be deleted or altered. The Oslo II peace treaty required the PLO to make all these changes within two months of the inauguration of the new Palestinian Council, May 7, 1996. This never occured.

On April 24, 1996, the PNC met in Gaza, but they did not revoke or change the covenant. They issued a statement saying that it had become aged, and that an undefined part of it would be rewritten at an undetermined date in the future. Peace Watch, a left-wing Israeli peace group that promotes the creation of a Palestinian state, issued this statemen:t "The decision fails to meet the obligations laid out in the Oslo accords in two respects. First, the actual amendment of the Covenant has been left for a future date. As of now, the old Covenant, in its original form, remains the governing document of the PLO, and will continue in this status until the amendments are actually approved...There is a sharp difference between calling for something to change and actually implementing the changes. Second, the decision does not specify which clauses will be amended."

The Arabic version of Yassir Arafat’s letter on this declaration stated "It has been decided upon: 1. Changing the Palestine National Charter by canceling the articles that are contrary to the letters exchanged between the PLO and the Government of Israel, on September 9 and 10, 1993. 2. The PNC will appoint a legal committee with the task of redrafting the National Charter. The Charter will be presented to the first meeting of the Central Council." The official Arabic letter significantly differed from the English language press release, which stated that the PLO Covenant was "hereby amended”"

PLO position paper on the Covenant, from the Research and Thought Department of Fatah.

The PLO's internal document on this matter stated that changing the Covenant would have been “suicide for the PLO.” It continued: “The text of the Palestinian National Covenant remains as it was and no changes whatsoever were made to it. This has caused it to be frozen, not annulled. The drafting of the new National Covenant will take into account the extent of Israeli fulfillment of its previous and coming obligations...evil and corrupt acts are expected from the Israeli side.. .The fact that the PNC did not hold a special session to make changes and amendments in the text of the National Covenant at this stage.. .was done to defend the new Covenant from being influenced by the current Israeli dictatorship."

Faisal Hamdi Husseini, head of the legal committee appointed by the PNC, stated "There has been a decision to change the Covenant. The change has not yet been carried out." At the time of this writing the covenant still has not been changed. All PLO publications and wesbites, as well as Palestinian Authority publications and websites, still use the old (current) version of the covenant and refer to it as valid.

Here's a link to the text of the PNC at the Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs site: [1] . The text of the articles as it is now doesn't mention either April 24, 1996 or December 14, 1998 (see the link). It should be rewritten and NPOVed, but I'm leaving it as it is for now. --AV

Correction: April 24 is mentioned (silly me), but is still not NPOV. --AV