Palestinian Declaration of Independence

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The Palestinian Declaration of Independence is a statement written by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and proclaimed by Yasser Arafat on 15 November 1988. It had previously[when?] been adopted by the Palestinian National Council, the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), by a vote of 253 in favour 46 against and 10 abstentions. It was read at the closing session of the 19th Palestinian National Council to a standing ovation.[1] Upon completing the reading of the declaration, Arafat, as Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization assumed the title of "President of Palestine."[2]

On 28 October 1974, the 1974 Arab League summit held in Rabat designated the PLO as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and reaffirmed their right to establish an independent state of urgency."[3]

Legal justification for the declaration was based on United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, which provided for the termination and partition of the British Mandate into two states. Despite the proclamation of the State of Palestine, at the time the Palestine Liberation Organization did not exercise control over any territory,[4] and designated Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine,[i][5] which was under Israeli control and claimed by it as Israel's capital. Though recognised by over 100 countries, no de facto independent Palestinian state has come into existence in the Palestinian territories.

Significance[edit]

Map comparing the borders of the 1947 partition plan and the armistice of 1949.
Boundaries defined in the UN partition plan of 1947:

  Area assigned for a Jewish state;
    Area assigned for an Arab state;
    Corpus separatum of Jerusalem (neither Jewish nor Arab).

Armistice Demarcation Lines of 1949:

    Arab territory until 1967;
      Israel

The declaration concerns the Palestine region, as defined by the British Mandate of Palestine, which includes the whole of Israel as well as the West Bank and the Gaza strip. It references the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine of 1947 (which also serves as the basis for Israel's declaration of independence) and "UN resolutions since 1947" in general. It invokes the Partition Plan as providing legitimacy to Palestinian statehood, at which time the Palestinian Arab leadership refused to accept the partition resolution (as opposed to the Jewish Agency (which would later form the nucleus of the State of Israel), which accepted the Partition Plan).

The declaration does not explicitly recognize the State of Israel. However, an accompanying document[6] that explicitly mentions UN Security Council Resolution 242 and Yasser Arafat's statements in Geneva a month later were accepted by the United States as sufficient to remove the ambiguities in the declaration.[7] Based on these statements, the declaration can be interpreted to have recognized Israel in its pre-1967 boundaries.

The declaration's reference to Palestine being the "land of the three monotheistic faiths" has been held as recognising the Jewish historical connection to the land, instead of arguing that Jews are colonists and foreigners in the land. Referring to "the historical injustice inflicted on the Palestinian Arab people resulting in their dispersion and depriving them of their right to self-determination," the declaration recalled the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) and UN General Assembly Resolution 181 as supporting the rights of Palestinians and Palestine. The declaration then proclaims a "State of Palestine on our Palestinian territory with its capital Jerusalem".[8][9] The borders of the declared State of Palestine were not specified. The population of the state was referred to by the statement: "The State of Palestine is the state of Palestinians wherever they may be". The state was defined as an Arab country by the statement: "The State of Palestine is an Arab state, an integral and indivisible part of the Arab nation".

Consequences[edit]

The declaration was accompanied by a PNC call for multilateral negotiations on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 242. This call was later termed "the Historic Compromise",[10] as it implied acceptance of the "two-state solution", namely that it no longer questioned the legitimacy of the State of Israel.[9] The PNC's political communiqué accompanying the declaration called only for withdrawal from "Arab Jerusalem" and the other "Arab territories occupied."[11] Yasser Arafat's statements in Geneva a month later[12][13] were accepted by the United States as sufficient to remove the ambiguities it saw in the declaration and to fulfill the longheld conditions for open dialogue with the United States.[14][15]

As a result of the declaration, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) convened, inviting Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the PLO to give an address. An UNGA resolution was adopted "acknowledging the proclamation of the State of Palestine by the Palestine National Council on 15 November 1988," and it was further decided that "the designation 'Palestine' should be used in place of the designation 'Palestine Liberation Organization' in the United Nations system." One hundred and four states voted for this resolution, forty-four abstained, and two - the United States and Israel - voted against.[16] By mid-December, 75 states had recognised Palestine, rising to 93 states by February 1989.[17]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

i.   ^ The Palestine Basic Law, approved by the PLC in May 2002, states unambiguously "Jerusalem is the Capital of Palestine" (source: [1]). Ramallah is the administrative capital where government institutions and foreign representative offices of Australia, Brazil, Canada Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Malta, the Netherlands, South Africa, and Switzerland are located. Jerusalem's final status awaits future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (see "Negotiating Jerusalem", University of Maryland). The United Nations and most countries do not accept Israel's claim over the whole of Jerusalem (see Kellerman 1993, p. 140) and maintain their embassies to Israel in other cities (see the CIA Factbook).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sayigh, 1999, p. 624.
  2. ^ Silverburg, 2002, p. 198.
  3. ^ Madiha Rashid al Madfai, Jordan, the United States and the Middle East Peace Process, 1974-1991, Cambridge Middle East Library, Cambridge University Press (1993). ISBN 0-521-41523-3. p 21.
  4. ^ Berchovitch and Zartman, 2008, p. 43.
  5. ^ Baroud in Page, 2004, p. 161.
  6. ^ Political Statement accompanying the Palestinian Declaration of Independence
  7. ^ Yasser Arafat, Speech at UN General Assembly
  8. ^ Silverburg, 2002, p. 42.
  9. ^ a b Quigley, 2005, p. 212.
  10. ^ PLO Negotiations Affairs Department (13 November 2008). "The Historic Compromise: The Palestinian Declaration of Independence and the Twenty-Year Struggle for a Two-State Solution". Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  11. ^ Political communique Palestine National Council. Algiers, November 15, 1988. Official translation.
  12. ^ Yasser Arafat, Speech at UN General Assembly Geneva, General Assembly 13 December 1988 - Le Monde Diplomatique
  13. ^ Arafat Clarifies Statement to Satisfy U.S. Conditions for Dialogue, 14 December 1988 - Jewish Virtual Library
  14. ^ Rabie, Mohamed (Summer 1992). "The U.S.-PLO Dialogue: The Swedish Connection". Journal of Palestine Studies 21 (4): 54–66. doi:10.1525/jps.1992.21.4.00p0140g. JSTOR 2537663. 
  15. ^ Quandt, William B. (1993). Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli conflict since 1967. Washington: Brookings Institution. pp. 367–375, 494. ISBN 0-520-08390-3. 
  16. ^ "THE PALESTINE DECLARATION TO THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT: THE STATEHOOD ISSUE". Rutgers Law Record. May 6, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  17. ^ The Palestine Yearbook of International Law; Kassim, 1997, p. 49.