(28 May 1964)
Palestine National Council. “The Palestinian National Charter: Resolutions of the Palestine National Council .” 17 July 1968. MS. The Avalon Project. Yale Law School, New Haven.
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed in May 1964 where it adopted its National Covenant, or comprehensive organizational plan. The PLO revised the Covenant in 1968. In April 1996 a number of the articles in the Covenant/Charter were revised again or nullified to be consistent with the 1993 Oslo Accords and their appending letters in which the PLO and Israel finally mutually recognized each other. However, the anti-Israeli sentiment inherent in the Charter and Covenant remained part of PLO attitudes beyond 1993. They were stressed with greater antagonism toward Israel in the Palestinian Hamas Charter written in 1988.
The contents of the PLO’s 1964 Covenant and 1968 Charter demanded Israel’s destruction through armed struggle, denied the legitimacy of any Jewish presence after 1917 (the issuance of the Balfour Declaration), and characterized Jewish presence in Palestine/Israel as the “Zionist occupation.” Article 9 of both documents called for “Armed struggle as the only way to liberate Palestine. Thus it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase.” It called for the use of commando action by the Palestinian people and their supporters. The documents opposed Jews as a nation or Jewish right to a state. In Article 19, it said that “The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void (meaning Israel and Jordan). Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.”
The PLO’s use of violence and terrorism against Israel and Jews as well as its desire to eradicate the Jewish state were the primary reasons that Israel did not negotiate with the PLO until it dropped terrorism and armed struggle as a diplomatic tool, and openly recognized Israel’s right to exist; as it did in 1993. Plane hijackings, attacks on Israeli civilians, cross the border attacks, the killing of Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972 all sustained a deep Israeli distaste for the PLO and its actions. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Israeli Prime Ministers Rabin and Begin remained totally opposed to dealing with the PLO because of its record of terrorism and intent on destroying Israel. Debasing terminology toward Israel, continued PLO attacks on Israelis, and Palestinian leadership’s public discussion about Israel’s elimination continued into the late 1980s and into 1990s, notabley after PLO-Israeli negotiations began. The anti-Israel sentiment of the Covenant and Charter continued to be centerpieces in the PLO leadership’s thinking. PLO leader Yasser Arafat, while toying with the idea of a diplomatic outcome with Israel, said on Algiers Voice of Palestine in November 1987, “I have said that any nation that loses the military option does not deserve to live…The important thing is to continue building up force until we reach a strategic military balance with the Israeli enemy.” And Feisal Husseini, a prominent PLO leader in Jerusalem, on September 9, 1996, said on Syria Television, “All Palestinians agree that the “just boundaries” of Palestine are the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea… realistically, whatever can be obtained now should be accepted and that subsequent events, perhaps in the next fifteen or twenty years would present an opportunity to realize the just boundaries of Palestine.” When the PLO Charter defines Israel as the “occupation of Palestine,” Israelis and others when they hear Palestinians and others request Israel to “end the occupation” in 2019, one does not exclude the possibility that this is not reference just to Israel’s presence in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and Jerusalem, lands taken in the June 1967 War, but refers to all the land from the Jordan River to the Sea as suggested by Faisal Husseini,
Finally, the PLO’s intentions and political track record were dominated and wrapped around its leader, Yasser Arafat (1968-2004). As a populist autocrat, he wove his survival as leader around the PLO’s policies. Many credit him for keeping the ideas of the Covenant and Charter alive. Other Palestinians and commentators, however, have chastised his rule as being characterized by ‘brutality, autocracy, and unimaginable corruption.” Edward Said, Al-Ahram Weekly, June 13-19, 2002 and commentary about his ‘coercion, patronage, and direct repression.” Al-Ahram Weekly, August 16-22 and August 23-29, 2011.
Ken Stein, May 2019
Article 1: Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people; it is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation.
Article 2: Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit.
Article 3: The Palestinian people possess the legal right to their homeland and have the right to determine their destiny after achieving the liberation of their country in accordance with their wishes and entirely of their own accord and will.
Article 4: The Palestinian identity is a genuine, essential and inherent characteristic; it is transmitted from parents to children. The Zionist occupation and the dispersal of the Palestinian Arab people, through the disasters which befell them, do not make them lose their Palestinian identity and their membership of the Palestinian community, nor do they negate them.
Article 5: The Palestinians are those Arab nationals who, until 1947, normally resided in Palestine regardless of whether they were evicted from it or have stayed there. Anyone born, after that date, of a Palestinian father – whether inside Palestine or outside it – is also a Palestinian.
Article 6: The Jews who had normally resided in Palestine until the beginning of the Zionist invasion will be considered Palestinians.
Article 7: That there is a Palestinian community and that it has material, spiritual, and historical connections with Palestine are indisputable facts. It is a national duty to bring up individual Palestinians in an Arab revolutionary manner. All means of information and education must be adopted in order to acquaint the Palestinian with his country in the most profound manner, both spiritual and material, that is possible. He must be prepared for the armed struggle and ready to sacrifice his wealth and his life in order to win back his homeland and bring about its liberation.
Article 8: The phase in their history, through which the Palestinian people are now living, is that of national (watani) struggle for the liberation of Palestine. Thus the conflicts among the Palestinian national forces are secondary, and should be ended for the sake of the basic conflict that exists between the forces of Zionism and of imperialism on the one hand, and the Palestinian Arab people on the other. On this basis the Palestinian masses, regardless of whether they are residing in the national homeland or in diaspora (mahajir) constitute – both their organizations and the individuals – one national front working for the retrieval of Palestine and its liberation through armed struggle.
Article 9: Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. Thus it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. The Palestinian Arab people assert their absolute determination and firm resolution to continue their armed struggle and to work for an armed popular revolution for the liberation of their country and their return to it . They also assert their right to normal life in Palestine and to exercise their right to self-determination and sovereignty over it.
Article 10: Commando action constitutes the nucleus of the Palestinian popular liberation war. This requires its escalation, comprehensiveness, and mobilization of all the Palestinian popular and educational efforts and their organization and involvement in the armed Palestinian revolution. It also requires the achieving of unity for the national (watani) struggle among the different groupings of the Palestinian people, and between the Palestinian people and the Arab masses, so as to secure the continuation of the revolution, its escalation and victory. The Palestinians will have three mottoes: national (wataniyya) unity, national (qawmiyya) mobilization and liberation.
Article 11: The Palestinian people believe in Arab unity. In order to contribute their share towards the attainment of that objective, however, they must, at the present stage of their struggle, safeguard their Palestinian identity and develop their consciousness of that identity, and oppose any plan that may dissolve or impair it.
Article 12: Arab unity and the liberation of Palestine are two complementary objectives, the attainment of either of which facilitates the attainment of the other. Thus, Arab unity leads to the liberation of Palestine; the liberation of Palestine leads to Arab unity; and work towards the realization of one objective proceeds side by side with work towards the realization of the other.
Article 13: The destiny of the Arab nation, and indeed Arab existence itself, depends upon the destiny of the Palestinian cause. From this interdependence springs the Arab nation’s pursuit of, and striving for, the liberation of Palestine. The people of Palestine play the role of the vanguard in the realization of this sacred national (qawmi) goal.
Article 14: The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national (qawmi) duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine. Absolute responsibility for this falls upon the Arab nation – peoples and governments – with the Arab people of Palestine in the vanguard.
Accordingly, the Arab nation must mobilize all its military, human and moral and spiritual capabilities to participate actively with the Palestinian people in the liberation of Palestine. It must, particularly in the phase of the armed Palestinian revolution; offer and furnish the Palestinian people with all possible help, and material and human support, and make available to them the means and opportunities that will enable them to continue to carry out their leading role in the armed revolution, until they liberate their homeland.
Article 15: The liberation of Palestine, from a spiritual point of view, will provide the Holy Land with an atmosphere of safety and tranquility, which in turn will safeguard the country’s religious sanctuaries and guarantee freedom of worship and of visit to all, without discrimination of race, color, language, or religion. Accordingly, the people of Palestine look to all spiritual forces in the world for support.
Article 16: The liberation of Palestine, from a human point of view, will restore to the Palestinian individual his dignity, pride and freedom. Accordingly the Palestinian Arab people look forward to the support of all those who believe in the dignity of man and his freedom in the world.
Article 17:The liberation of Palestine, from an international point of view, is a defensive action necessitated by the demands of self-defense. Accordingly the Palestinian people, desirous as they are of the friendship of all people, look to freedom-loving, justice-loving and peace-loving states for support in order to restore their legitimate rights in Palestine, to re-establish peace and security in the country, and to enable its people to exercise national sovereignty and freedom.
Article 18: The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time, because they were contrary to the will of the Palestinian people and to their natural right in their homeland, and inconsistent with the principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations, particularly the right to self-determination.
Article 19: The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.
Article 20: The Arab Palestinian people, expressing themselves by the armed Palestinian revolution, reject all solutions which are substitutes for the total liberation of Palestine and reject all proposals aiming at the liquidation of the Palestinian problem, or its internationalization.
Article 21: Zionism is a political movement organically associated with international imperialism and antagonistic to all action for liberation and to progressive movements in the world. It is racist and fanatic in its nature, aggressive, expansionist, and colonial in its aims, and fascist in its methods. Israel is the instrument of the Zionist movement, and geographical base for world imperialism placed strategically in the midst of the Arab homeland to combat the hopes of the Arab nation for liberation, unity and progress. Israel is a constant source of threat vis-a-vis peace in the Middle East and the whole world. Since the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence and will contribute to the establishment of peace in the Middle East, the Palestinian people look for the support of all the progressive and peaceful forces and urge them all, irrespective of their affiliations and beliefs, to offer the Palestinian people all aid and support in their just struggle for the liberation of their homeland.
Article 22: The demands of security and peace, as well as the demands of right and justice, require all states to consider Zionism an illegitimate movement, to outlaw its existence, and to ban its operations, in order that friendly relations among peoples may be preserved, and the loyalty of citizens to their respective homelands safeguarded.
Article 23:The Palestinian people believe in the principles of justice, freedom, sovereignty, self-determination, human dignity, and in the right of all peoples to exercise them.
Article 24: For the realization of the goals of this Charter and its principles, the Palestine Liberation Organization will perform its role in the liberation of Palestine in accordance with the Constitution of this Organization.
Article 25: The Palestine Liberation Organization, representative of the Palestinian revolutionary forces, is responsible for the Palestinian Arab people’s movement in its struggle – to retrieve its homeland, liberate and return to it and exercise the right to self-determination in it – in all military, political, and financial fields and also for whatever may be required by the Palestinian case on the inter-Arab and international levels.
Article 26: The Palestine Liberation Organization shall cooperate with all Arab states, each according to its potentialities; and will adopt a neutral policy among them in the light of the requirements of the war of liberation; and on this basis it shall not interfere in the internal affairs of any Arab state.
Article 27:The Palestinian Arab people assert the genuineness and independence of their national (wataniyya) revolution and reject all forms of intervention, trusteeship and subordination.
Article 28: The Palestinian people possess the fundamental and genuine legal right to liberate and retrieve their homeland. The Palestinian people determine their attitude towards all states and forces on the basis of the stands they adopt vis-a-vis the Palestinian case and the extent of the support they offer to the Palestinian revolution to fulfill the aims of the Palestinian people.
Article 29:Fighters and carriers of arms in the war of liberation are the nucleus of the popular army which will be the protective force for the gains of the Palestinian Arab people.
Article 30: The Organization shall have a flag, an oath of allegiance and an anthem. All this shall be decided upon in accordance with a special regulation.
Article 31: Regulations, which shall be known as the Constitution of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, shall be annexed to this Charter. It shall lay down the manner in which the Organization, and its organs and institutions, shall be constituted; the respective competence of each; and the requirements of its obligations under the Charter.
Article 32: This Charter shall not be amended save by [vote of] a majority of two-thirds of the total membership of the National Congress of the Palestine Liberation Organization [taken] at a special session convened for that purpose.