http://www.Official Fatah Editorial: Actualizing Palestinian Sovereignty
When the Central Council met on April 27, 1999, they had a large
responsibility considering that the interim issue was about to expire on May
4, 1999. They recognized the necessity of putting an end to the period of
self-rule in order to establish a Palestinian independent state. However,
pressures from all sides (including Arab pressures), were exerted on the
Council to avoid making a decision concerning the establishment of an
independent state. The assumption was that a decision would have a negative
effect on the Israeli election. In his letter, President Clinton encouraged
the Council to continue their negotiations for another year.
Despite these pressures, the Council made two important decisions. First,
the Council decided that its meetings were to remain open until they could
reconvene in June 1999. Secondly, the Council decided to "go ahead in taking
the necessary measures in order to develop the elements of a state and its
institutions and to reinforce sovereignty by setting up a number of work
committees." This included the establishment of a special committee to work
on the constitution.
June passed while we were trying to test Barak's ability to implement the
Wye River Agreement. A few more months elapsed but the Central Council still
did not reconvene. Building on a framework of the internal unity, the
Palestinian PLO factions called for the formation of committees. The PLO
Executive Committee and the Presidency of the National Council formed the
The Committee for Internal Unity and National Dialogue; headed by Mr. Saleem
Za'noun (head of the National Council).
The Economic and Financial Committee; headed by Mr. Mohammed Nashasheebi.
The Popular Committee for Confronting Settlements; headed by Mr. Yasser Abed
Foreign Relations Committee; headed by Mr. Zakkeriah Al Agha.
The Constitution Committee; headed by Mr. Nabeel Sha'ath.
The statement issued by the Central Council at that time emphasized the need
for a consensus that the state of Palestine is based on the following: 1)
the natural right of the Palestinian people to have their own state; 2) UN
Resolution 181 (1947); 3) the Declaration of Independence (1988); and 4) the
significant sacrifices made by the Palestinian people. As a result, the PLO
through its national and democratic institutions, became the sole party
legally responsible for implementing this non-negotiable decision which
would not be subject to any party's veto.
This position was reaffirmed in the meeting of the Central Council which was
held on February 2, 2000 after the interim period was extended according to
the Sharm al-Sheik Agreement. Unfortunately, however, it became apparent
that the work committees that had been formed were not doing their work. In
fact, some of them did not meet for many months. Therefore, it became
necessary to set deadlines to keep the committees on task. The Council
decided the following: "The Central Council emphasizes the necessity to
declare the sovereignty of the state of Palestine during this year.
Furthermore, we emphasize the need to establish contacts and implement the
necessary steps in order to achieve these measures."
Five months of Israeli stalling elapsed. Meanwhile, the committees proved to
be inactive in "going ahead with the necessary measures to materialize
sovereignty." In the Council's July/August 2000 meeting, the Council decided
to "activate the committees which were formed previously and to put them in
an open session until they were able to prepare the political, economic,
social, legal, and legislative acts necessary for implementing their plans."
Since it was assumed that the Sharm al-Sheik Agreement would end on the
September 13, the Council decided to delegate the responsibility of
declaring the independent state of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital
to the PLO Executive Committee. Furthermore, they became responsible for
actualizing Palestinian sovereignty over the land of Palestine before the
expiration of the Sharm al-Sheik Agreement.
However, the Council met after Camp David II proved to be a failure.
Primarily, people could not understand what had happened or how independence
would materialize. At the same time, citizens could not feel the effects of
any measures that were approved to actualize sovereignty and were
discouraged at the continual post-ponement of deadlines.
The position of the Central Council and that of Fateh was clear. Deadlines
which we cannot meet or respect cannot be used tactically; otherwise people
will lose their trust in us. Also it became clear that we should create the
necessary circumstances for actualizing independence so that our actions and
those of our people can move in that direction. The decision made by the
Central Council in its last meeting on September 9, 2000 opened the way for
further national commitment towards serious action.
November 15 was tentatively set as the date for actualizing the state. This
date coincides with the declaration of independence in Algeria (1988). It is
the duty of the members of our movement and our revolution to build this
element of trust between our people on the one hand, and the PLO and its
institutions on the other hand.
The decision of the Council says, "Based on the natural and historic right
of the Palestinian people to have their own independent state with Jerusalem
as its capital, and in accordance with UN resolution 181 which endorses the
existence of two states within its mandatory borders, and in order to
actualize the declaration of independence (1988), the Central Council calls
on the Executive Committee of the PLO and the presidencies of the National
Council and the Legislative Council to take the necessary steps in order to
materialize the state of Palestine during the coming period. These measures
include: the issuance of the constitutional declaration and the creation of
a law concerning the election of the President of this State and the
Palestinian parliament. In addition, they are called on to apply for
membership at the United Nations and to submit a detailed report before the
upcoming meeting that will be held on November 15th."
In the coming period, there will be negotiations. However, these
negotiations should not come at the expense of weakening the necessary
measures for actualizing our sovereignty. Since the Central Council has not
specified the nature of these steps, I suggest the following three areas of
The first area concerns negotiations. Since negotiations constitute a
difficult battle, our negotiating team should have the full support of our
people. Therefore, several functions should be organized to show their
support. Also, it is the duty of the Executive Committee and the Higher
Committee for Negotiations to support President Arafat in his attempt to
secure an Arab and international cooperation which is based on international
The second area has to do with confronting the arrogance of settlers who aim
to create obstacles on the path of peace. We should prepare for the
worst-especially in Jerusalem. These preparations should be made in
coordination with national and Islamic forces.
The third area is related to the concept of taking the necessary measures to
actualize this sovereignty. Reference has already been made in the statement
of the Council to the three basic tasks (a constitutional declaration, law
concerning election, and membership in the UN). In addition to these tasks,
measures should be taken in strengthening the home front and to activate the
institutions of the PNA so that they can be transformed into state
institutions. Also, we should apply the laws which strengthen connection
between the people and the institutions such as the civil service law.
Furthermore, we should improve the lives of those working in the military.
Also, the role of the judiciary should be activated and should seek to
establish its independence from other authorities.
Other measures we should take include issuing Palestinian passports which
carry the statement of "The State of Palestine" instead of the "The
Palestinian National Authority." This statement also applies to headings on
stationery and documents used by all institutions--particularly after the
expiration of the Sharm al-Sheik Agreement on the 13th of September.
Furthermore, we should start to negotiate with surrounding Arab states
(Syria, Jordan, Egypt) to draw their borders with mandatory Palestine so
that it will remain a Palestinian issue. This will put an end to Israeli
attempts to impose their own borders with these states.
The important role of the national economy in actualizing independence
requires a series of actions and contacts with other countries in order to
secure a way out of the Paris Agreement which was biased towards the
Israelis in regards to economy. We should issue our own currency as a symbol
These measures are not only the duty of the PNA and the PLO, but they are
the duties of all national and Islamic forces. We call on all these forces
to have a special meeting that aims at specifying the necessary measures for
actualizing sovereignty. We should secure freedom of expression for all the
participants at this meeting regarding the negotiation process, reinforcing
steadfastness, and confrontation. We are sure that national unity will
remain our source of strength. It is only through unification that the dream
of our martyrs for Palestinian sovereignty can be fulfilled.
Revolution until Victory!