PLO, PA Compete on UN Statehood Bid

The Palestinian Authority officially began its bid for statehood at the United Nations Thursday. The PLO raced to deny the campaign launch.

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Chana Ya'ar,

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History is about to be made, one way or the other, with the Palestinian Authority tentatively beginning its journey on the path of no return at the United Nations.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas submitted the entity's formal request Thursday for assistance in achieving “the Palestinian people's just demands” in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The letter, addressed from the PA government headquarters in Ramallah, informed Ban there would be a campaign of “peaceful events” leading up to the opening of the 66th Session of the U.N. General Assembly, scheduled for September 21.

Abbas is expected to address the General Assembly on the last day of the first session of general debate, September 23.

However, within hours after the news hit the media, the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) rushed to deny the letter constituted an official launch of the PA's statehood bid at the international body.

PLO spokesman Xavier Abu Eid said the letter from the Ramallah-based PA government headquarters was not “official.”

Only the PLO, he said, was authorized to submit the final, official request for recognition as a new Arab country, and ask for membership within the ranks of the U.N. 

“The PA does not have any international relations mandate,” Abu Eid told the DPA German press agency. “The only one that can negotiate or sign agreements is the PLO, so the PLO is going to submit the official request.” 

Abu Eid claimed that the letter sent from Ramallah was actually an activist grassroots initiative entitled “National Campaign Palestine: State no. 194.” This campaign, he said, was officially launched Thursday with the letter to the U.N. secretary-general and is expected to include "peaceful" demonstrations in the coming days.

At the end of the day, however, it may not matter much. The PLO, founded at the 1964 Arab League Summit in Cairo, is also led by Mahmoud Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen), who succeeded chairman Yasser Arafat, who died in 2004. The organization, governed by the Palestinian National Council (PNC) which includes an 18-member executive committee, was officially responsible for countless terrorist operations in the 1970s and 1980s.

The PLO was designated upon its inception as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” by some 100 Arab nations – although Hamas is not represented, nor is the Islamic Jihad or any of the Gaza-based Salafist global jihad organizations.

The organization has had observer status at the U.N. since 1974. 

To this day, its charter continues to call for the destruction of  "The Zionist Entity" despite numerous unfulfilled promises by Arafat to international leaders to remove the call for the destruction of Israel and the Jews.

The Palestinian National Charter of 1964 states in part: “The claims of historic and spiritual ties between Jews and Palestine are not in agreement with the facts of history or with the true basis of sound statehood... [T]he Jews are not one people with an independent personality because they are citizens to their states.” (Article 18)

Due to the fact that at the time of its inception, Jordan and Egypt occupied Judea, Samaria and Gaza, the PLO charter also states its agreement there is actually no justification for an independent Palestinian country in those areas: “This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank (Judea and Samaria -ed.), the Gaza Strip or in the Himmah Area (part of Jerusalem).” (Article 24)