Palestinian Prisoners' Document
The "Prisoners' Document," officially the National Reconciliation Document, is a document written in 2006 by Palestinian prisoners who were being held in Israeli jails at the time. The five prisoners who took part in writing the Document were affiliated with Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).
The Prisoners' Document
The Prisoners' Document consists of 18 points. The document calls for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders and the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, and the implementation of the right of return for Palestinian refugees. The first version of the Document has been interpreted by some as implicitly recognizing Israel's right to exist, as opposed to the Hamas charter of 1988, which calls for Israel's destruction. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for a national referendum on the Prisoners' Document on July 26, 2006, if Fatah and Hamas could not reach a negotiated settlement. Initially, Hamas leaders dismissed Abbas' calls for a referendum on the Document as "illegal" and vowed to boycott it. However, Hamas later agreed to negotiate with Fatah on the contents of the Document, and an agreement was reached on June 27, 2006. One poll in June 2006 showed that 77% of Palestinians supported the Prisoners' Document, but another poll that month showed that only 47% would vote for it in a referendum. Before Hamas and Fatah reached their agreement, the Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners who had helped draft the Document retracted their names and withdrew support from it in protest at Mahmoud Abbas' decision to hold a referendum based on the plan; they stated that Abbas was exploiting the Document for political purposes.
President Abbas sought to use the Prisoners' Document as the basis for final status negotiations with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert dismissed the Document, however, and described it as "meaningless". Olmert claimed that the Document was out of touch with the internationally recognized conditions, because it calls for the right of return for Palestinian refugees and full Israeli withdrawal from all parts of the West Bank.
Controversy and Ambiguity
Much of the controversy regarding the Prisoners' Document hinged on whether the Document recognizes Israel. While the Prisoners' Document does not explicitly recognize the right of Israel to exist, it does explicitly embrace the idea of a Palestinian state solely on pre-1967 boundaries. Point #1 states that "The Palestinian people in the homeland and in the Diaspora seek ... to establish their independent state with al-Quds al-Shareef [Jerusalem] as its capital on all territories occupied in 1967".
Hamas has advocated for a Palestinian state within the territories set out for an Arab state by the 1947 UN partitition plan. Thus, the Document was described[by whom?] as a historical renunciation of Hamas' claim to a Palestinian state on all of the historic Mandatory Palestine territory.
- Arab-Israeli conflict
- Proposals for a Palestinian state
- Palestine Liberation Organization
- Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas
- "Israel nabs 2; Palestinian leaders talk", Newsday, June 25, 2006.
- "Abbas risks all with vote stategy", BBC News, June 8, 2006.
- "Highlights of the Hamas Fatah Agreement", Boston Globe, June 27, 2006.
- "Fatah, Hamas reach agreement on division of security forces", Haaretz, June 18, 2006
- "Poll: 77 percent of Palestinians support the prisoners' document", Haaretz, June 7, 2006.
- "Poll: Only 47 percent of Palestinians would vote for prisoners", Haaretz, June 19, 2006.
- "Hamas-led PA parliament defers decision on Abbas' referendum", Haaretz, June 13, 2006.
- "Olmert's Mission", Cape Times, June 11, 2006.