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Palestine Liberation Organization

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The Palestine Liberation Organization, commonly known as the PLO, is a Palestinian organization dedicated to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in lands now mostly part of or occupied by Israel.

In the 1970s the Palestine Liberation Organization, was an umbrella group of 8 organizations headquartered in Damascus and Beirut. Its Palestine Liberation Army was 12,000 men strong, led by Yasser Arafat. The PLO included Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).

The PLO has a nominal legislative body of 300 members, the Palestine National Council[?] (PNC). Actual political power and decisions are controlled by the PLO Executive Committee[?], made up of 15 people voted in by the PNC. PLO ideology can be found in its constitution, the Palestinian National Covenant, which was created in 1964. This covenant was amended in 1968; this version is made up of 33 articles. The original intention of the PLO was to establish a state of Palestine, which was called for in the Palestinian National Covenant.

The PLO and its leader Yasser Arafat has since become the generally accepted organization of the Palestinian people and its desire to have a nation of its own. The PLO has observer status in the United Nations. Yasser Arafat is married to a member of the Palestinian people's Christian community.

Table of contents

Timeline At the Palestinian National Congress[?] in Cairo on February 3, 1969 Arafat was appointed PLO leader.

On January 12, 1976 the UN Security Council voted 11-1 to admit the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

In 1982, the PLO relocated to Tunis, Tunisia after it was driven out of israel by Israel, during Israel's six-month invasion of southern Lebanon.

In 1988, the Palestine National Council adopted a resolution calling for the implementation of applicable United Nations resolutions, particularly, Resolutions 242 and 338. The Palestinians recognized Israel's right to exist within pre-1967 borders, (constituting less than 20% of the former British mandate of Palestine) with the understanding that they would be allowed to set up their own state led by Yassir Arafat in the West Bank and Gaza. A significant minority within the PLO at this time still held the view that the rest of historic Palestine (about 75%, contained within the Kingdom of Jordan) would eventually also become a Palestinian state.

In 1993, the PLO secretly secretly negotiated the Oslo Accords with Israel. The accords were signed on August 20, 1993. There was a subsequent public ceremony in Washington D.C. on September 13, 1993 with Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin. The Accords granted the Palestinians right to self-government on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank through the creation of the Palestinian Authority. Yasser Arafat was appointed head of the PA and the PLO came to dominate the administration. The headquarters of the PA (and thereby Yasser Arafat and PLO) were established in Ramallah on the West Bank.

On September 9, 1993, Arafat released an English language press release stating "the PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security". Some factions within of the PLO and the PA who used to seek peaceful co-existence with Israel while creating a Palestinian state within the West Bank and Gaza, has lost popular support due to the reoccupation of PA controlled areas in the West Bank.

In addition to Arafat, PLO has many other well known leaders. One of them is the Palestinan Christian Hanan Ashrawi[?]. She is a Professor of Literature at a West Bank university and has contributed to the understanding of English literature among the Palestinians but also developed and compiled that people's own literature. By doing so, Palestinian identity and development has been furthered, consistent with the basic principles of the PLO.

Criticism against the PLO Numerous leaders within the PLO and the PA, including Yasser Arafat himself, have supported that the State of Israel has a permanent right to exist, and that the peace treaty with Israel is genuine. Some Palestinian officials have stated that the peace treaty must be viewed as a permanent. The vast majority of the Israeli public has recognized the right of the Palestinians for a state of their own; however some leaders from the right (including the former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) doubt whether a peaceful, coherent state can be founded by the PLO and call for significant re-organization, before any talk about independence.

The PNC has not undergone any changes since 1968, and still calls for the destruction of Israel in numerous articles. This version is still distributed by the PA and is taught in PA schools and colleges. This is in violation to the Oslo accords that demanded the PNC to be amended; the PLO on its behalf announced an intention to amend it, but never produced an updated version.

During the al-Aqsa Intifada, the PLO leadership has maintained connections with its military wing, the Fatah, parts of which (the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in particular) are held responsible for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. The Israeli government alleges that the PLO has harbored and sponsored Fatah terrorists. For these reasons, from the year 2000 to the present PLO and PA administrative buildings have in total sustained more than 900 Israeli attacks. This has seriously undermined the PA's ability to function properly. At present it is uncertain when a change to the better will be implemented.

Statements made by PLO As with any organization, the PLO has a wide diversity of opinions within it, some more peaceful than others. As in any organization, the opinions expressed by some PLO members do not necessarily reflect the organization as a whole.

On accepting Israel:

"Palestinians are no strangers to compromise. In the 1993 Oslo Accords, we agreed to recognize Israeli sovereignty over 78 percent of historic Palestine and to establish a Palestinian state on only 22 percent." -- Saeb Erakat, Chief Palestinian negotiatior, August 5, 2000

"Consequently, the P.L.O. undertakes to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian covenant." --Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the P.L.O. (in the exchange of letters with Israel on 9 September 1993)

"Israel must not demand that the P.L.O. alter its covenant, just as the P.L.O. does not demand that the Jewish nation cancel the Bible." --Ziad Abu Ziad, senior P.L.O. official (in a speech to the American Jewish Federation, 23 October 1993)

On whether the P.L.O. police force will work with Israel against terrorism:

"The Joint Security Coordination and Cooperation Committee set up under Article II hereunder shall develop a plan to ensure full coordination between the Israeli military forces and the Palestinian police..." -- from the agreement signed by Israel and the P.L.O. in Cairo on 4 May 1994 (paragraph 2a of Annex I to the agreement)

"Anyone who thinks the Palestinian police will try to prevent attacks outside the borders of the autonomous area is making a bitter mistake." --- Sufian Abu Zaida, a leader of Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction in Gaza (Maariv, 25 April 1994)

"If there are those who oppose the agreement with Israel, the gates are open to them to intensify the armed struggle." -- Jibril Rajoub, P.L.O. security chief for the West Bank, during a lecture at Bethlehem University (Yediot Aharonot, 27 May 1994)

On the right of return of Palestinian refugees:

"I recently read an interview with an elderly Palestinian woman living in the Ein el Hilwa camp in Lebanon. Tightly gripping the rusted key to her family's farm near Jaffa, she asked her interviewer how she should explain to her grandchildren, who had known only the stench of the camp's open sewers, what it was like to wake up to the scent of fresh lemons." -- Elia Zureik, a Professor of Sociology at Queen's University, Kingston, Canada, Advises the Palestine Liberation Organization on Refugee Issues

"800,000 Palestinians among those who left after 1967 will come back in the transitional period, which is five years. Those who left in 1948 will come back after the declaration of the Palestinian independent state." -- Nabil Sha'ath, head of the P.L.O. delegation to the talks with Israel in Taba (Al-Hayat, 28 September 1993)

On wanted fugitives taking refuge in Gaza:

"We came to Jericho because with the Palestinian authority here, it is now safe." -- Ziyad Wawi, a member of the P.L.O.'s Black Panthers who is wanted for murder by Israel, on why he and 18 other fugitives have fled to Jericho (Agence France Presse, 14 June 1994)

On why the P.L.O. signed the Cairo agreement with Israel:

"The money is the carrot for signing the peace agreement with Israel. We have signed." -- Hassan Abu Libdah, deputy chairman of the P.L.O.'s Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (The New York Times, 10 June 1994)

On Palestinian statehood:

"Palestinians believe that Jerusalem should be a shared, open city; two capitals for two states." -- Faisal Husseni, senior P.L.O. representative in Israel, July 3, 2000

"Gradually, stage by stage, we will reach an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the capital." -- Feisal Husseini, senior P.L.O. representative in Israel (Beirut Times, 16 September 1993)

The Palestinian flag "will fly over the walls of [Eastern] Jerusalem, the churches of Jerusalem and the mosques of Jerusalem." -- Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the P.L.O. (Jordanian TV, 13 September 1993)

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