Palestine National Council
Algiers, 28 September 1991
From the date of its beginning in 1965, the Palestinian revolution has embarked on a long, bitter, and strenuous struggle during which our people have made huge sacrifices. This beginning came after years of excluding the Palestinian question and considering it a refugee question.
The long years of struggle in all forms, under the PLO leadership, the sole legitimate representative of our people, have again posed the question of Palestine to the international community on the grounds that it is the national cause of a people entitled to liberation, self-determination, and independence.
The question of Palestine occupied a central position in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Peace, security, and stability in the Middle East cannot be secured unless this conflict is resolved.
Then came the blessed intifada, with its popular and democratic depth, as a creative continuation of the Palestinian national struggle. It has constituted a distinct phase which has left its imprint on the whole world and reverberated around it. It has consolidated international recognition of our people's rights and of the PLO, which has always and immediately put such international support and polarization to use.
Thus, our National Council convened its 19th session and launched the Palestinian peace initiative, and the historic birth of the State of Palestine was proclaimed on 15 November 1988.
The world had welcomed our peace initiative through the resolutions of the UN General Assembly in its 43rd session, which was held in Geneva. Also, most countries recognized the state of Palestine and established diplomatic and political relations with it.
Despite the international welcome with which the Palestinian initiative and the historic speech by the president of the state of Palestine, brother Yasir Arafat, who demonstrated to the whole world our wish for a just peace, was met – thus for the first time the United States announced the opening of an official dialogue with the PLO – the Israeli policy of stubbornness and pressure led to the failure of all initiatives and peaceful efforts, bringing them down a dead-end street.
Afterwards, there came regional and international developments, most prominent of which was the Gulf war and the changes that occurred in the socialist bloc. This resulted in a substantial change in the balance of power. Thus, the cold war came to an end, and the features of a new age in international relations began to develop, especially in the field of U.S.-Soviet relations and cooperation between the two nations to resolve regional conflicts and problems peacefully.
The PLO has closely monitored the course of events in the world and their effect on the Palestinian question and the Arab-Israeli conflict. If the Palestinian people have had their homeland usurped as a result of the prejudices of the old world order, it is impermissible, according to any logic, that they be denied these rights in a phase witnessing the emergence of the new world order that raises slogans of democracy, human rights, and the sanctity of peoples’ right to self-determination.
The current situation requires us to deal with it in the spirit of political responsibility and national realism and to examine the new regional and international developments. This situation also requires us to learn the lessons and experience from the popular intifada that has turned the aim of Palestinian independence into a feasible program.
In harmony with the Palestinian initiative proposed in 1988 and with international and Arab legitimacy, the PLO has dealt positively and effectively with international and peaceful ideas, proposals, and initiatives that relied on international legality. The PLO also welcomed the positive elements mentioned in the declaration of U.S. President George Bush and the positions of the EEC, the Soviet Union, the Nonaligned Movement states, and other international quarters.
The PLO, which had welcomed the current peaceful efforts and initiatives and dealt with them positively, including the call launched by Presidents Bush and Gorbachev for convening a peace conference related to settling the conflict in the Middle East, believes that the success of the efforts aimed at holding the peace conference requires the continuation of work with the other sides so as to achieve the following foundations:
1. The peace conference should rely on international legitimacy and its resolutions, including UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and should undertake to implement them. These resolutions secure a full Israeli withdrawal from Arab and Palestinian occupied territories, including sacred Jerusalem; the realization of the land-for-peace exchange principle; and the national and political rights of the Palestinian people.
2. It must be stressed that Jerusalem is an indivisible part of occupied Palestinian territory and that what applies to the rest of the occupied territories applies to it, as stipulated by the resolutions of the Security Council and the United Nations.
3. Halting settlement in the occupied territories, including holy Jerusalem, is an indispensable necessity to start the peace process, and international guarantees must be provided to achieve that.
4. The PLO, as the legitimate and sole representative of the Palestinian people, has the right to form the Palestinian delegation from within and outside the homeland, including Jerusalem, and to define the formula of their participation in the peace process on an equitable basis and in a way that stresses its authority.
5. Arab positions should be coordinated to ensure the realization of a comprehensive settlement, excluding unilateral solutions, in accordance with the resolutions of Arab summits.
6. The connection between the stages of the settlement toward reaching a comprehensive settlement should be ensured according to the resolutions of international legitimacy.
The PLO, which starts from these bases and premises on the peace efforts, aims to accomplish the following:
1. The right to self-determination must be secured for our Palestinian people in a way that guarantees the right to freedom and national independence.
2. There must be a full Israeli withdrawal from all Palestinian and Arab lands occupied in 1967, including holy Jerusalem.
3. The problem of Palestinian refugees driven out of their homeland by force and against their will must be resolved, in accordance with UN resolutions, especially Resolution 194, issued by the UN General Assembly.
4. Any provisional arrangements must include the right of our people to sovereignty of land, water, natural resources, and all political and economic affairs.
5. International protection for the Palestinian people, in preparation for the exercise of the right to self-determination, must be provided.
6. Full guarantees must be provided for an effort to remove the existing settlements by declaring them illegal, in accordance with the resolutions of international law, including UN Security Council Resolution No. 465.
The National Council charges the Executive Committee to continue current efforts to provide the best conditions for guaranteeing the success of the peace process in accordance with the resolution of the Palestine National Council [PNC]. However, the committee will submit the results to the Central Council to make a final decision in light of the supreme national interest of our people.
The PLO, which in the previous phase made all possible efforts to propel the peace process, hopes that the other parties, especially the United States and the USSR, will also make efforts to help ease the obstacles placed by Israel before this ongoing political process and to leave the door open for a return to the UN Security Council so as to implement the resolutions of international legitimacy.
Working toward the achievement of our national objectives in the next phase and toward facing up to obstacles marring our struggle requires the consolidation and entrenchment of national unity in various fields. It requires developing the contribution of all national forces, bodies, and personalities inside and outside the occupied homeland – along with the political leadership of the PLO – to all issues related to our people's future and the ongoing political process, and to finding the appropriate formula for achieving this purpose.
In this respect, the PNC calls for increasing the activities and role of the PLO Central Council in monitoring and implementing the resolutions of the National Council as a way of consolidating democracy and its practice. The Council considers promoting the intifada and consolidating its popular and democratic character and the participation of our entire people in backing and supporting it to be the real guarantee for securing the political and national objectives in the next phase of our national struggle.
In this respect, the Council addresses its struggle greetings to the masses of the brave intifada and stresses the consolidation of the role and prestige of the Unified National Command of the Intifada, the development of its struggle wings, the continuation of the formation of cadres, and the setting up of supreme sectorial councils.
The Council reaffirms that the protection and support of the intifada and the provision of all requirements for its development are at the forefront of Palestinian national action.
The Council extends greetings to our heroic prisoners in the detention centers of Zionist occupation and to our brave wounded who are watching over the path of the intifada, which was built by our pure martyrs.
The National Council extends its struggle greetings to the masses of our steadfast people in Galilee, the Triangle, Negev, and the coast, and reaffirms its appreciation of their struggle in defense of their rights against the policies of persecution and segregation and their active support for the brave intifada.
The Council also affirms that guaranteeing the realization of the objectives of our people and Arab nation, through the peace process, in order to secure a full Israeli withdrawal from Arab and Palestinian lands, and to guarantee the right of return, the self-determination to our people, and the setting up of a Palestinian state with holy Jerusalem as its capital, require the restoration of inter-Arab solidarity in order to protect the Arab future in light of current international and regional changes.
In this respect, the Council invites the five Arab states concerned in the peace process to achieve the highest levels of political and diplomatic coordination between them, in order to face up to the requirements of the coming stage and to reinforce the Arab negotiating position, so as to guarantee the realization of a comprehensive solution at all levels and prevent any separate solutions at the expense of the national rights of our people and the rights of our Arab nation.
The National Council invites all the international community to promote its support and backing to the cause of the Palestinian people and its just struggle, and to enhance its resistance in the occupied homeland. The Council appreciates the role of the EEC member states, and invites them to contribute effectively to providing conditions for success for the peace process on a balanced basis and in accordance with international law, in order to protect international security and stability in the Middle East and Mediterranean region.
The Council expresses its appreciation for, and tribute to, the positions of His Holiness the Pope and the Vatican in supporting the rights of our people. The National Council expresses its appreciation for the role of the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, the nonaligned states, the African states, and the Islamic states organization in backing the Palestinian cause, and their adherence to the bases of international law in resolving the conflict in the region.
The Council studied the relations of the PLO at the Arab level and made the following resolutions:
• The PNC salutes, at its 20th session, fraternal Algeria-the president, the government, and the people-for harboring the cause of Palestine, playing host to the PNC sessions, and continuously supporting the rights of our people since the flag of freedom and independence was hoisted in the Algeria of 1.5 million martyrs.
• The Council salutes, at its 20th session, fraternal Tunisia-the president, the government, and people-for their warm shelter to the leadership of the PLO, and for their bearing a great deal of sacrifice that has reached the level of the mixing of Tunisian and Palestinian blood. Our eternal gratitude to Tunisia for its warm hospitality and fraternal solidarity.
• The Council thanks, in particular, His Majesty King Hassan II, chairman of the Jerusalem Committee, for his continuous efforts and endeavors in supporting the rights of the Palestinian people and the PLO, and for the support extended by the fraternal Kingdom of Morocco to the steadfastness of our people in the occupied homeland.
• The Palestinian National Council expresses, at its 20th session, its appreciation for the continuous support given by the fraternal Libyan Jamahiriyah to the masses of the brave Palestinian intifada.
• The PNC salutes the Arab Maghreb Union member states for their continuous support for the cause of Palestine and the PLO, and it appreciates the vital role played by these state on the road to recovering inter-Arab solidarity.
• The PNC expresses, at its 20th session, its deep solidarity with the fraternal Iraqi people in their suffering, and it asks the international community to immediately move to put an end to the economic boycott which endangers the lives of Iraqi children, women, and men because of the lack of medicine and food. The PNC urges the masses of the Arab nation and the fraternal Arab states to extend a helping hand and support to fraternal Iraq. It also calls for an end to all forms of interference in its domestic affairs.
• The PNC also calls for serious and continuous action to retrieve inter-Arab solidarity between the sons of the Arab nation. The PNC salutes the Palestinian-Jordanian brotherhood and calls for its strengthening and deepening in all spheres. It confirms its previous resolutions on the special and distinguished relations linking the two fraternal Palestinian and Jordanian peoples.
• It calls for the continuation and reinforcement of coordination and cooperation between the PLO and sister Jordan in all fields.
• The PNC affirms its decisions on building future relations on the basis of a confederation between Jordan and Palestine.
• The PNC salutes sister Lebanon and hails the sacrifices of the Lebanese people in support of the Palestinian cause, and wishes success to the procession of the Lebanese national accord that aims to restore Lebanon's unity and sovereignty and ensures the authority of legitimacy on its territory. It also stresses full support in the battle of the liberation of the south from Israeli occupation toward the implementation of Resolution 425, which stipulates an Israeli withdrawal from all Lebanese territory.
• The Council calls for the entrenchment of fraternity between the peoples of Lebanon and Palestine through the organization of Lebanese-Palestinian relations on a solid basis that ensures political, struggle, and social rights to the Palestinian people in Lebanon and provides security to the Palestinian camps in facing up to Israeli aggressions and on the basis of close cooperation with the legitimate Lebanese authority.
• The National Council stresses the necessity of completing the dialogue between the Lebanese government and the PLO with a view of tackling Lebanese-Palestinian relations positively in all fields for the mutual interest of the two fraternal peoples.
• The National Council calls upon the five Arab countries directly involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict – Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine to achieve the highest level of political and diplomatic coordination to face up to the requirements of the coming political stage, and to strengthen the Arab negotiating position. The coordination between these fraternal countries should reach the summit level.
• The National Council refers with appreciation to the special significance of the holding of two sessions for the Arab foreign ministers within the framework of the Arab League on the land of sister Egypt, which continues to play an effective and fundamental role in reviving Arab solidarity and realizing a unified Arab position.
• The Council also alludes to the position of sister Egypt vis-a-vis the inalienable national rights of our people and her constant efforts to safeguard those rights.
• The Council calls for continuing the work toward the reinforcement of Syrian-Palestinian relations and the promotion of coordination between sister Syria and the PLO towards serving the mutual national and pan-Arab interests and facing up to the challenges.
• The PNC appreciates the firm and continued support provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over long years for our Palestinian people and the PLO, and appreciates its continued hospitality and the facilitating of the employment and residence of the sons of our people on its territories. It hopes that the support will continue for the blessed intifada, which is facing a war of starvation and attempts to destroy the economic structure waged by the Israeli occupation authorities against our people.
• The National Council salutes the peoples of fraternal Sudan and Yemen and their leaders and governments, and expresses its gratitude on behalf of the Palestinian people for the support to our people and hospitality to our forces being provided by our brothers in Sudan and Yemen despite their difficult circumstances.
• The PNC urges the international community to deal with the issue of Jewish colonizing emigration in a way that ensures that Israel does not use it to serve its objectives of expansion, colonization, and depriving our people of the right to decide their destiny in the territory of their homeland. The Council believes that the continuation of this emigration, in accordance with Israeli plans to intensify settlement in our occupied land, constitutes a direct obstacle, a danger threatening the future of peace in the region, and a violation of the Palestinian people's rights and international conventions.
• The PNC draws attention to the attempts and endeavors currently under way in some international circles to repeal the UN General Assembly's resolution on Zionism as a form of racism. The Council urges the Executive Committee to work with the friendly and fraternal states to face up to these attempts and to abort them.
• The Council salutes the struggle of all the peoples aspiring for equality, justice, spreading democracy, and achieving equality in international relations. In this respect, the Council appreciates the struggle of the people of South Africa, under the leadership of the ANC [African National Congress] and the struggling leader Nelson Mandela, for equality and the removal of racism. The Council expresses its full solidarity with the people of South Africa in their just struggle in confronting racism and against the acts of sabotage perpetrated by the hostile instruments of racism. The PNC stresses the need to further give all forms of backing and support to the struggling and friendly people of South Africa.
• The Council also underlines its support and backing for and its solidarity with the African frontline states in the face of aggression and racism.
• The Council addresses greetings to the UN special committee to ensure the exercise of the Palestinian people's inalienable rights, to international nongovernmental fraternal and friendly institutions, and to the correspondents and news media that have stood and are standing on the side of the intifada and the struggle of our people.
• The PNC reiterates its commitment to the UN resolutions that affirm the right of peoples to resist foreign occupation, colonialism, and apartheid, and their right to struggle for their independence. The Council declares once again its rejection of terrorism in all its forms, including state terrorism.
• Finally, the PNC addresses greetings, compassion, and love to our steadfast and patient Palestinian people, both inside our occupied land and in the diaspora, and to the masses of our Arab nation and its influential forces for their positions supporting and backing the jihad of our Palestinian people and their national, inalienable rights. The Council urges them to stand firmly in the face of the conspiracies hatched by the enemies of our Arab nation in order to preserve our Arab nation, its existence, pride, dignity, and national security.
• The Council also addresses its greetings and appreciation to all the friends and the peace- and freedom-loving noble forces for their honorable positions on the side of the just cause of our people.
It is revolution until victory. Peace and the blessings of God be upon you.
Source: Journal of Palestine Studies, vol. xxi, no 2, Winter 1992, p. 151-55.