Op-Ed: The PLO Charter Amendment That Never Was
William K. LangfanThe writer is a pro Israel activist and lawyer living in Florida.
The “Peace Process” which began with the Declaration of Principles (DOP) in 1993 and continued with the Oslo Accords was actually an Israeli divestiture of land in exchange for promises of peace from the Palestinian leadership.
One of the major and probably the most important Palestinian obligation in the “Peace Process” was a promise to annul the onerous clauses of their formal original 29 clause 1964 Charter (the “Charter”)which was amended into a 33 clause charter in 1968 after the 1967 War. Click here to see relevant clauses.
The importance of the Charter to the Palestinians can not be exaggerated. To the Palestinians, it is virtually their “Junior Koran.” These clauses in the Charter, in sum, declared the establishment of Israel illegal and void and called for armed resistance until Palestine was liberated.
It is the opinion of the writer, predicated upon the facts which follow, that not one word of the Charter has ever been changed. Arafat and the subsequent Palestinian leadership instituted a series of steps to indicate that the Charter had been changed; however, there is not one shred of evidence that any change has ever occurred.
Palestinian Charter Amendment Requirements
1.Clause 33 of the Charter as amended in 1968 specifically states that there can be no change to the Charter unless 2/3’s of the full membership of the Palestinian National Council and such a vote can only be made in a meeting specially noticed for an amendment change.(See linked 1968 Charter here)
Arafat’s 1993 Letter to Rabin
2. Arafat wrote a magnificent letter (click on the words to see it) to PM Rabin in September 1993 days before the signing of the Oslo Accords. In the letter, Arafat stated that the “clauses in the Charter which are contrary to what I have stated in this letter are either no longer operative or will be nullified.” Critically, Arafat’s 1993 letter ended with the sentence that the “letter will be presented to the PNC (the Palestinian Council) for their formal approval.” In other words, all of Arafat’s peaceful statements in his 1993 letter were “subject to” the PNC formal approval pursuant to clause 33 of the Charter.
PNC 1996 Vote and Resolution
3. The PNC finally did meet in April 1996 and did vote for a two clause resolution after a speech by the PNC Chairman Zanoun. Zanoun’s speech (click here) clearly stated that “we have to do something at the lowest possible price-if we amend, it will mean that we have paid a very high price- if we prepare a new charter it will be less challenging- the resolution which we have drafted gives us 6 months until the Palestinian Central Council meets. They can say, we leave it for the National Council. . . .”
4. Clause one of the Resolution states that the PNC decides “amending the Palestinian National Charter and cancelling the Charter’s articles opposing the exchanged letters between the PLO and the Israeli Government on September 9th and 10th, 1993. Clause 2 of the resolution states that a legal committee would be formed to draft a new Charter.
If we combine the Zanoun pre-vote speech with the 2 clause resolution that was actually voted on, plus the fact that there is no record of a legal committee ever being formed, and there is no record that a redrafting of the Charter ever occurred, no reasonably objective person could arrive at a conclusion that there was a change in the Charter up to this point.
5. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in October 1996 issued a communication (click here) which stated that the PLO had failed to amend the Charter’s clauses no later than May 7, 1996. It further stated that “By leaving the Covenant (the Charter) intact, the PLO sends a clear message that it has not renounced violence nor accepted Israel’s right to exist.”
Arafat’s 1998 Letter to President Clinton
6. There is no record that anything pertaining to the Charter ever occurred from October 1996 until Arafat wrote a letter to President Clinton (click here) in January 1998. Arafat declared in this 1998 letter that questions have been raised pertaining to the legal effect of the April 1996 PNC action. Arafat then stated “we would like to put to rest these concerns.” In accordance with Article 33 of the Charter, the 1996 PNC Resolution is a comprehensive amendment of the Covenant. All of the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the PLO 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 parts of articles 1-5, 11-14, 16-18, 25-7. And 29 that are inconsistent with the above mentioned commitments have also been nullified.
Arafat ended his letter: I can assure on behalf of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority that all the provisions of the Covenant that were inconsistent with the above mentioned commitments of September 9/10, 1993) to Prime Minister Rabin, have been nullified.
Arafat stated that specific clauses were annulled in the 1996 Resolution.
Can anyone reasonably arrive at a conclusion that a statement from Arafat that the 1996 PNC vote for the Resolution annulled the specific clauses enumerated in Arafat’s letter to President Clinton when there is not one fact that could sustain Arafat’s allegations?
On the contrary, the 1996 resolution itself specifically appointed a legal committee to draft unspecified actual changes to the Charter in the future which unequivocally means that no actual changes took place at the 1996 vote.
Various Palestinian Reaffirmations of Arafat’s 1998 letter to President Clinton
7.The following series of events occurred in December 1998 which were reaffirmations of the contents of Arafat’s letter to President Clinton:
a.) Dec. 7, 1998, the Executive Committee of the PLO reaffirmed the letter of Arafat to President Clinton.
b.)Dec. 10, 1998, the Central Committee of the PLO met and reaffirmed the Arafat letter.
c.)Dec. 14, 1998 all the Palestinian leaders of all the Palestinian ministries met and reaffirmed the Peace Process, and reaffirmed the actions of the executive Committee and the Central Committee pertaining to the Charter.
Enclosed is the summary of the decisions and actions pertaining to the Palestinian National Charter as currently posted by the Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations. This summary conveniently omitted from the second clause of the 1996 PNC resolution, the words “which will be presented to the PCC during its first meeting.” There is no evidence that this PCC “first” meeting ever took place. Similarly, there is no evidence that a legal committee was ever formed nor is there any evidence that a redrafting of the Charter has ever occurred.
In conclusion, Arafat’s “subject to” letter to Rabin, the inconclusive clause one of the April 1996 PNC resolution, Arafat’s letter to President Clinton, and the three Dec. 1998 votes reaffirming Arafat’s letter to President Clinton are the total evidence that the specifically enumerated clauses of the Charter have been annulled or partially annulled.
The evidence that there has never been one word changed in the Charter is as follows:
- There is not one document that has ever surfaced to support the claim any change in the Charter has ever occurred.
- PNC Chairman’s Zanoun’s pre-vote speech specifically stated that no amendment was contemplated and that there was to be a redrafting of the new charter. There is no evidence that a redrafted charter is in existence.
- There is no evidence that a legal committee was ever formed pursuant to clause 2 of the April 1996 PNC resolution and no evidence of a new charter (seelink to PNC website at end of article.).
- Three Dec. 1998 reaffirmations of Arafat’s January 1998 letter to President Clinton which stated that the consequence of the April 1996 resolution, for which a vast majority of the PNC voted, was an annulment of the specifically enumerated clauses and partial annulments of the other enumerated clauses was an Arafat allegation that never happened. An affirmation of something that never happened does not convert an event that never occurred into an event that happened. Thus, all of those reaffirmations of Arafat’s letter to President Clinton were reaffirmations of nothing. (A reaffirmation of a legally defective charter amendment, does not legally convert the legally defective amendment into a legally effective charter amendment.) (A reaffirmation of a fictional false event, doesn’t make the fictional false event any more factual or true.) If there were a real intention on the part of the Palestinian leadership to annul any part of the Charter, all they had to do was to have the Palestinian National Council vote specifically to annul each clause as Arafat alleged in his letter.
Facts speak louder than words. The years following the December 14, 1998 Palestinian leaders vote by raising their arms to vote “reaffirming peace,” resulted in the greatest amount of Israeli civilian casualities per year since the 1949 armistice. (see link at end of article) The average Israeli civilian deaths from terrorism from January 1999 through December 31, 2009 was 108 versus 28 annual Israeli civilian deaths from terrorism from 1949 through December 31, 1998. If the wall had not been built, the total Israeli deaths would have been much higher.
The result of the “Peace Process” as of this moment is: Palestinians now control land which they have never controlled in recorded history; Hamas control of Gaza; more Israeli civilian deaths from terrorism than ever before; the same PLO charter calling for Israel’s destruction which has never been modified; plus a Fatah constitution and a Hamas charter, both of which call for Israel’s destruction, and a Palestinian leadership mindset to destroy Israel which has not changed one iota.
PNC Permanent Mission to the United Nations website information www.marklangfan.com/8-permanentunmissionwebsiteinfo.htm
List of Israeli Civilian deaths from Terrorism www.marklangfan.com/9-civiliandeathsfromterrorism.html