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Encyclopedia > Palestinian National Covenant

The Palestinian National Covenant or Palestinian National Charter (Arabic: الميثاق الوطني الفلسطيني; transliterated: al-Mithaq al-Watani al-Filastini) is the charter or constitution of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Arabic ( or just ) is the largest living member of the Semitic language family in terms of speakers. ... Due to the fact that the Arabic language has a number of phonemes that have no equivalent in English or other European languages, a number of different transliteration methods have been invented to represent certain Arabic characters, due to various conflicting goals: A desire to stay consistent with traditional usage... It has been suggested that this article be split into multiple articles accessible from a disambiguation page. ... The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) (Arabic: ;   or Munazzamat al-Tahrir al-Filastiniyyah) is a multi-party confederation and is the organization regarded since 1974 as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. ...


Following a 1963 Draft Constitution [2] the first version of the Charter[3] was written by Ahmad Shukeiri, the first chairman of the PLO, using the slightly different name al-Mithaq al-Kawmee al-Filastini, meant to reflect its origins in Nasser's Pan-Arabism.[4]. The first official English translation rendered al-Mithaq as "covenant", while later versions have tended to use "charter." (The word changed in 1968 in the Arabic name is translated as "national" in either English translation.) Ahmad Shukeiri Ahmad Shukeiri (1908 - 1980), also al-Shuqayri, or Shukeiry, was the first Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. ... Gamal Abdel Nasser (Arabic: - ; Masri: جمال عبد الناصر - also transliterated as Jamal Abd al-Naser, Jamal Abd an-Nasser and other variants; January 15, 1918 – September 28, 1970) was the President of Egypt from 1954 until his death in 1970. ... Pan-Arabism is a movement for unification among the Arab peoples and nations of the Middle East. ...


The Palestinian National Charter was adopted on May 28, 1964, establishing the Palestine Liberation Organization, in (east) Jerusalem along with another document, variously known as the Basic Constitution, Basic Law or Fundamental Law of the PLO, based on an earlier Draft Constitution. The Charter is concerned mainly with the aims of the Palestine Liberation Organization, while the Fundamental Law is more concerned with the structure and procedures of the organization. May 28 is the 148th day of the year (149th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Also Nintendo emulator: 1964 (emulator). ... The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) (Arabic: ;   or Munazzamat al-Tahrir al-Filastiniyyah) is a multi-party confederation and is the organization regarded since 1974 as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. ... This is a list of articles about the fundamental constitutional laws, known as Basic Laws, of various jurisdictions. ...


The Charter was extensively amended, with seven new articles, in 1968 in the wake of the Six Day War and given its current name. [5] Compared to its predecessor, it focused more on the independent national identity and vanguard role of the Palestinian people, led by the PLO, in their "liberation of their homeland" by armed struggle. Article 7 of the earlier document was changed from "Jews of Palestinian origin are considered Palestinians ..." to being restricted only to those "who had resided in Palestine until the beginning of the Zionist invasion." The final article providing that it can only be amended by a vote of a ⅔ majority of the Palestinian National Council (PNC) at a special session convened for that purpose was left unchanged. The 1967 Arab-Israeli War, also known as the Six-Day War or June War, was fought between Israel and its Arab neighbors Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. ... The Palestinian National Council (PNC) is the parliament in exile of the Palestinian people. ...


The Fundamental Law was also amended, making it more democratic, electing the entire Executive Committee by the PNC, instead of just the Chairman, separating the post of the Speaker of the PNC from the Chairman of the Executive Committee and affirmed the authority of the Executive Committee over the army. Later, (Hirst, 2003) p.427 a promised Charter amendment based on Fatah doctrine "that all Jews [without date restriction]...were to be entitled to Palestinian citizenship" failed due to doctrinal quarrels over the meaning of the precise nature of the proposed Democratic State. Fatah (Arabic: ); a reverse acronym from the Arabic name Harakat al-Tahrir al-Watani al-Filastini (literally: Palestinian National Liberation Movement) is a major secular Palestinian political party and the largest organization in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a generally secular multi-party confederation. ...

Contents

The Charter and the question of Israel's right to exist

Israel had of course always strongly objected to the Charter, which described the establishment of the state of Israel as "entirely illegal" (Art. 19), considers Palestine, with its original Mandate borders, as the indivisible homeland of the Arab Palestinian people (1-2), urges the elimination of Zionism in Palestine and worldwide (Art. 15), and strongly urges the "liberation" of Palestine throughout.


On 14 December 1988, following an outcry from his 13 December General Assembly speech, Yasser Arafat called a press conference in Geneva to clarify his earlier statement by specifically mentioning "the right of all parties concerned in the Middle East conflict to exist in peace and security, including the State of Palestine, Israel, and their neighbours. He also renounced, rather than condemned, terrorism. [6] Not to be confused with Yasir Arafat (cricketer). ...


Israel dismissed these statements of moderation from Arafat and the PNC resolution in Algiers, 1988 (which had been sufficient to open a dialogue with the USA) as "deceptive propaganda exercises" because (among other objections), "the PLO Covenant has not changed." (Shlaim, p. 466) In May 1989, Arafat, in a statement later criticized by Edward Said as being beyond his authority, and properly a matter for the PNC , told a French TV interviewer "C'est caduc", meaning that it, the Charter, was null and void. (transcript in Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2 (Winter, 1990) , pp. 133-188) The Palestinian National Council (PNC) is the parliament in exile of the Palestinian people. ... The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Palestinian National Council, the legislative body of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), in Algiers on 15 November 1988. ... Edward Wadie Saïd (Arabic: , transliteration: ; 1 November 1935 – 25 September 2003) was a Palestinian-American literary theorist and outspoken Palestinian activist. ... The Palestinian National Council (PNC) is the parliament in exile of the Palestinian people. ...


In August 1993, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin insisted on changes to the Charter as part of the Oslo Accords. Following Yasser Arafat's commitment to "submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval" the changes to the Charter confirming 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" [7] in the September 9, 1993 letters of mutual recognition, the PNC met in Gaza and voted on 24 April 1996. The decision was adopted by a vote of: 504 in favor, 54 against, and 14 abstentions. The official English translation used by Israel, the PLO and the USA reads: For other persons named Rabin, see Rabin (disambiguation). ... Yitzhak Rabin, Bill Clinton, and Yasser Arafat during the Oslo Accords on September 13, 1993. ... Not to be confused with Yasir Arafat (cricketer). ... is the 252nd day of the year (253rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1993 (MCMXCIII) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full 1993 Gregorian calendar). ... The Palestinian National Council (PNC) is the parliament in exile of the Palestinian people. ... is the 114th day of the year (115th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display full 1996 Gregorian calendar). ... The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) (Arabic: ;   or Munazzamat al-Tahrir al-Filastiniyyah) is a multi-party confederation and is the organization regarded since 1974 as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. ...

"A. The Palestinian National Charter is hereby amended by canceling the articles that are contrary to the letters exchanged the P.L.O. and the Government of Israel 9-10 September 1993.
B. 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."[8] [9][10]

The text of the Charter at the official website of the Palestinian National Authority appends these amendments to the text of the 1968 charter; the redrafting process referred to in the second amendment still remains uncompleted. is the 253rd day of the year (254th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1993 (MCMXCIII) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full 1993 Gregorian calendar). ... Anthem: Biladi Capital Ramallah and Gaza de facto, as the current location of government institutions. ...


An earlier version of the above translation is still available on the website of Palestinian American Council. The relevant text reads:

"The PNC held a special session on April 24, 1996 and listened to the report made by the legal committee, reviewed the current political conditions, which the Palestinian people and the Arab nations encounter, and so the PNC decided: "Depending on the Independence Declaration and the political statement adopted by the PNC in its 19th session in Gaza on Nov. 11, 1988 which stressed resolving conflicts by peaceful means and adopting the principal of two states, the PNC decides to:
First: Amend the articles in the National charter that contradict with the letters exchanged between the PLO and the government of Israel on Sept. 9-10, 1993.
Second: The PNC authorizes the Legal Committee to draft a new charter to be presented at the first meeting to be held by the Central Council."[11]

This earlier version had appeared on the Palestine Ministry of Information's website. Many commentators noted that the text only indicated a decision to amend the charter, not an actual amendment. Official Palestinian websites have since replaced the vague translation with the concrete version quoted above. The Palestinian National Council (PNC) is the parliament in exile of the Palestinian people. ... The Palestinian National Council (PNC) is the parliament in exile of the Palestinian people. ... The Palestinian National Council (PNC) is the parliament in exile of the Palestinian people. ... The Palestinian National Council (PNC) is the parliament in exile of the Palestinian people. ...


In May 1996, the Labor government under Shimon Peres accepted these changes as fulfilling the Palestinian commitments.[12], but when this government was replaced by Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud government, the issue again became controversial, with Israel's demand for greater clarity and precision eventually expressed in the Wye River Memorandum. (See below, Events of 1998) This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ...   (Hebrew: בִּנְיָמִין נְתַנְיָהוּ (without niqqud: בנימין נתניהו), Hebrew transliteration written in English: Binyamin Netanyahu, nicknamed Bibi) (born October 21, 1949, Tel Aviv) was the 9th Prime Minister of Israel and is a leading figure in the Likud party. ... Likud (Hebrew: ליכוד, literally means consolidation) is a centre-right political party in Israel. ... The Wye River Memorandum was a political agreement negotiated to implement the earlier Interim Agreement of 28 September, 1995 brokered by the United States between Israel and the Palestine Authority completed on October 23, 1998. ...


Events of 1998 and after

Yasser Arafat wrote letters to President Clinton and Prime Minister Blair in January 1998 explicitly listing the articles of the Charter referred to in the PNC's 1996 vote. While this was seen as progress in some quarters, other Palestinian officials contended that the Charter had not yet been amended, and there were also reportedly discrepancies between the two letters. Not to be confused with Yasir Arafat (cricketer). ... The Palestinian National Council (PNC) is the parliament in exile of the Palestinian people. ...


The operative language of Arafat's letter to Clinton reads:

The Palestine National Council's resolution, in accordance with Article 33 of the Covenant, is a comprehensive amendment of the Covenant. All of the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the P.L.O. commitment to recognize and live in peace side by side with Israel are no longer in effect.
As a result, Articles 6-10, 15, 19-23, and 30 have been nullified, and the parts in Articles 1-5, 11-14, 16-18, 25-27 and 29 that are inconsistent with the above mentioned commitments have also been nullified.[13][14]

The articles identified by Arafat as nullified call for Palestinian unity in armed struggle, deny the legitimacy of the establishment of Israel, deny the existence of a Jewish people with a historical or religious connection to Palestine, and label Zionism a racist, imperialist, fanatic, fascist, aggressive, colonialist political movement that must be eliminated from the Middle East for the sake of world peace. The Palestinian National Council (PNC) is the parliament in exile of the Palestinian people. ...


Observers who had previously been skeptical of Palestinian claims that the Charter had been amended continued to voice doubts. In an attempt to end the confusion, the Wye River Memorandum included the following provision: The Wye River Memorandum was a political agreement negotiated to implement the earlier Interim Agreement of 28 September, 1995 brokered by the United States between Israel and the Palestine Authority completed on October 23, 1998. ...

The Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Central Council will reaffirm the letter of 22 January 1998 from PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat to President Clinton concerning the nullification of the Palestinian National Charter provisions that are inconsistent with the letters exchanged between the PLO and the Government of Israel on 9-10 September 1993. PLO Chairman Arafat, the Speaker of the Palestine National Council, and the Speaker of the Palestinian Council will invite the members of the PNC, as well as the members of the Central Council, the Council, and the Palestinian Heads of Ministries to a meeting to be addressed by President Clinton to reaffirm their support for the peace process and the aforementioned decisions of the Executive Committee and the Central Council.

These commitments were kept, leading President Clinton to declare to the assembled Palestinian officials on 14 December 1998 at Gaza: The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) (Arabic: ;   or Munazzamat al-Tahrir al-Filastiniyyah) is a multi-party confederation and is the organization regarded since 1974 as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. ... is the 22nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1998 (MCMXCVIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display full 1998 Gregorian calendar). ... Yasser Arafat Yasser Arafat (August 4 or August 24, 1929 – November 11, 2004), born Muhammad `Abd ar-Rauf al-Qudwa al-Husayni (Arabic محمد عبد الرؤوف القدوة الحسي&#1606... is the 253rd day of the year (254th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1993 (MCMXCIII) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full 1993 Gregorian calendar). ... is the 348th day of the year (349th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1998 (MCMXCVIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display full 1998 Gregorian calendar). ...

I thank you for your rejection—fully, finally and forever—of the passages in the Palestinian Charter calling for the destruction of Israel. For they were the ideological underpinnings of a struggle renounced at Oslo. By revoking them once and for all, you have sent, I say again, a powerful message not to the government, but to the people of Israel. You will touch people on the street there. You will reach their hearts there.

Like President Clinton, Israel and the Likud party now formally agreed that the objectionable clauses of the charter had been abrogated, in official statements and statements by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Sharon, Defense Minister Mordechai and Trade and Industry Minister Sharansky.[15][16] [17][18] With official Israeli objections to the Charter disappearing henceforward from lists of Palestinian violations of agreements[19], the international legal controversy ended.


Despite President Clinton's optimism, the events of 1998 did not entirely resolve the controversy of the Charter. A June 1999 report by the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Information on the status of the Charter made no mention of the 1998 events and leading Palestinians continue to state that the Charter has not yet been amended.


In 2001 the first draft of a constitution [20] authorized by the PLO's Central Committee, calling for a respect for borders, human and civil rights as defined under international law appeared.


Israeli views

Although the PNC met in Gaza on 24 April 1996, it did not revoke or change the covenant, but only 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. While the English language press release stated that the PLO Covenant was "hereby amended", the Arabic version of Yassir Arafat's letter on this declaration stated: The Palestinian National Council (PNC) is the parliament in exile of the Palestinian people. ... is the 114th day of the year (115th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display full 1996 Gregorian calendar). ...

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 9 September 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.

"Peace Watch", an Israeli organization declaring itself to be "an apolitical, independent Israeli organization monitoring bilateral compliance with the Israel-PLO accords"[1] issued the following statement: is the 252nd day of the year (253rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

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.

Palestinian views

Reportedly, an internal PLO document from the Research and Thought Department of Fatah stated that changing the Covenant would have been "suicide for the PLO" and 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.[citation needed]

In January 1998, before the second Gaza meeting, 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".[citation needed]


Shift of focus to Hamas

In recent years, the subject of the Palestinian National Covenant has almost disappeared from the Israeli public discourse and debate. To a growing degree, especially after the electoral victory in the Hamas movement in the Palestinian elections of 2006, Israeli attention shifted to the Hamas Movement's own Covenant and the positions taken by the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Government.
In general, the new debate has tended to follow a similar pattern to the older one. One side of Israeli public opinion regards the perceived 'extreme' positions on the Palestinian side as a sign that Israel "has no partner", therefore creating strenuous preconditions for any dialogue or negotiations, while the other appears to feel more lenient, seeking for signs of "pragmatism" on the opposing side. Hamas (Arabic: ; acronym: Arabic: , or Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya or Islamic Resistance Movement,[1]) is a Palestinian Sunni Islamist organization. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


References

  1. ^ Peace Watch legal opinion: "PLO Charter wasn't changed" [1]

See also

Wikisource has original text related to this article:

Image File history File links Wikisource-logo. ... The original Wikisource logo. ... The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) (Arabic: ;   or Munazzamat al-Tahrir al-Filastiniyyah) is a multi-party confederation and is the organization regarded since 1974 as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. ... Proposals for a Palestinian state vary depending on ones views of Palestinian statehood, as well as various definitions of Palestine and Palestinian (see also Palestinian state and State of Palestine). ... ... This article is about the Palestinian territories as a geopolitical phenomenon. ...

External links

Documents

is the 159th day of the year (160th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1974 (MCMLXXIV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar) of the 1974 Gregorian calendar. ... January 13 is the 13th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1998 (MCMXCVIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display full 1998 Gregorian calendar). ...

Analysis

References

  • Cobban, Helena (1984). The Palestinian Liberation Organization: People, Power and Politics. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-27216-5. 
  • Hirst, David (2003). The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East. Nation Books. ISBN 1-56025-483-1. 

 
 

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