Palestinian Position On Current Issues
Many people, including politicians, diplomats, journalists, political activ- ists and others from all corners of the world, have frequently raised, at different times, questions about the Palestinian position on a number of issues related to the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, peace process, bilateral relations, intra-Palestinian reconciliation and other issues. This booklet of- fers basic answers to these questions and explains the official Palestinian position. We hope that this modest effort will be of help to the readers.
The United Nations Bid
1. The Palestinian bid to gain full UN membership does not contradict the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations. Contrary to that, this move is intended to accentuate the terms of reference for resolving the con- flict that had been approved and endorsed by all the relevant parties, including the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Govern- ment of Israel. On top of these terms of reference are the “land-for- peace” formula that was endorsed by the Madrid Peace Conference in November 1991; complete cessation of settlement construction in the Occupied Territories; and establishment of the independent State of Palestine along the 1967 lines with mutually agreed upon minor adjustments.
2. The UN bid was not meant to isolate or delegitimize Israel. The aim has been to underline the illegitimacy of, and put an end to the occupa- tion which started in 1967, and obtain international recognition of the State of Palestine that will live in peace and security with its neighbors.
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National Reconciliation And The Israeli Position
1. Israel uses the division between theWest Bank and Gaza Strip as a pretext to justify its failure to engage in serious negotiations with the Palestin- ians. However, when attempts were made to achieve reconciliation, the Government of Israel opposed the move and said that President Abbas “must choose between Hamas and Israel.” The Palestinian leadership gave its definitive response in this regard. President Abbas announced that Hamas is part of the Palestinian national fabric, while stressing at the same time that he sees in Israel a genuine partner for peace.
2. Hamas has leaned closer to the Palestinian official position. It has ac- cepted full truce with Israel, supported popular peaceful resistance, embraced the principle of a Palestinian State on the 1967 borders, and agreed to hold elections. But Israel’s foot-dragging in the negotiations and the failure to reach a conflict-ending agreement left the door wide open for conflicting parties within Hamas whereby those supporting a political settlement where undermined and weakened as they saw that Israel was not serious in reaching an agreement.
3. Presidential and legislative elections in the West Bank, East Jerusa- lem and the Gaza Strip will offer a democratic and civilized means to end the division and reunite the two parts of the country, provide the means to address the internal division within the Palestinian commu- nity and strip Israel and others of whatever pretexts they use to abort a just and comprehensive settlement in the region.
4. Any government the Palestinian President forms or delegates others to form is a government that is necessarily fully committed to the Pal- estinian national program and is in complete harmony with the two- state solution along the 1967 lines. It is also a government that has an executive role to deliver services to the Palestinian people and has no role in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, since those negotiations are the sole responsibility of the PLO and its Chairman.
Arab Peace Initiative
1. It is still possible to achieve the two-state solution and to end the conflict, but this might be the last chance because the current situa- tion cannot be sustained forever. The Arab Peace Initiative, adopted by the Arab summit in Beirut in 2002 and endorsed by the Islamic Summit in Tehran the following year, has offered Israel the chance to establish normal relations and diplomatic ties with 57 Arab and Muslim countries in exchange for ending Israel’s occupation of all the territories it captured in the June 1967 war and the recognition of the independent State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its cap- ital, in addition to providing a just and agreed upon solution to the question of the Palestinian refugees.
2. The Israeli government must choose between peace and settlements, security and occupation, but it certainly cannot hold on to its extreme positions and claim at the same time that it seeks to reach a just and comprehensive peace in the region.
3. Expediting the peace process and the completion of the two-state solution in accordance with international legitimacy serve regional stability and world peace. ( Full text on page 14 )
The Two-State Solution
1. In the Declaration of Independence read by the late President Yasser Arafat before the Palestinian National Council in Algiers in 1988, the Palestinian leadership announced its acceptance of the principle of the two-state solution along the lines of 4th June 1967 as the basis for solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
2. Since that day and throughout all those years, the Palestinian leader- ship has worked diligently and faithf ully in order to achieve this goal through negotiations. The continuation of settlement activity, howev- er, makes the two-state solution a far-fetched goal and creates facts on the ground that would perpetuate the conflict for years or even decades to come.
3. Certain Israeli policies may be pushing in the direction of the one- state solution. But this solution is no option for the Palestinians as it creates a new apartheid regime and bears built-in elements that can perpetuate the bloody conflict between the two sides for years and perhaps for decades.
1. There are no preconditions set by the Palestinian side. It is all about a clear definitive Palestinian demand that Israel meets its obligations as stipulated in all the agreements signed between the two parties in addition to the Roadmap, the Quartet Declarations and relevant inter- national legitimacy resolutions.
2. The Palestinian leadership, having honored its commitments and joined the international efforts, is not to blame for the stalled negotia- tions or for the stalemate in the political process.
3. The Palestinian leadership is fully prepared to consider comments on any mistakes made, if any. But the Palestinian leadership basical- ly reiterates the need to seize the available opportunity to reach the two-state solution before the region is hit by the implications of rapid regional changes.
Peaceful Popular Resistance
1. The Palestinian people have the right to say “no” to the occupation and to exercise their legitimate right to resist. There is a consensus among Palestinians today on peaceful popular resistance.
2. The Palestinian people and their leadership reject violence and count- er-violence, and call for peaceful popular resistance. However, many victims from among our people and with them Israeli and foreign supporters, who are involved in this type of resistance, such as in the villages of Ni’lin, Bil’in and others have been and continue to be sub- jected at the hands of the Israeli army to various methods of repres- sion during their peaceful demonstrations in the areas adjacent to the Separation Wall.
The Wye River talks in 1998 launched a tripartite committee (Palestinian-Is- raeli-US) to address the issue of incitement. This committee worked for six months and then stopped for reasons we were not party to. Since then, we have been calling for the revival of this Tripartite Commission but succes- sive Israeli governments have refused to do so.
1. There are more than five million Palestinian refugees displaced around the world. What we demand is to place this issue on the negotiations table.
2. Israel must acknowledge that it was part of the Palestinian refugees’ problem and it must necessarily be part of the solution as well. Previous negotiations with Israel have proved that there are practical and doable ideas to solve the problem of Palestinian refugees the moment there is a sincere intention to reach the endgame (the two-state solution).
3. The Arab Peace Initiative has provided Israel with the historic opportu- nity when it placed a formula that was accepted by the whole world in order to reach a just and agreed upon solution to the refugees’ prob- lem based on UN Resolution 194. This simply means that no coercive solutions will be imposed on any party.
1. East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1967.
2. Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem and proclaiming the city as its capi- tal are illegal and contravene international law. Therefore, most world countries have refused to move their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem.
3. Jerusalem will be a capital for two states within the framework of a permanent settlement, where East Jerusalem will be a capital for the State of Palestine and West Jerusalem a capital for the State of Israel.
4. There can also be two separate city councils for East and West Jerusa- lem, and they both can keep a joint coordinating body between them..
5. There is no need to divide the city of Jerusalem again. It can remain open to followers of all religions.
1. All forms of Israeli settlement activity and construction in the occu- pied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and contravene international law and the resolutions of the international community.
2. Existing settlements and the continued settlement activities leave less land and resources needed for the creation of the viable and contig- uous independent State of Palestine. Therefore, the settlements and settlement activities preclude achieving the two-state solution.
3. The question of settlement is one of the core final status issues and can be addressed in the negotiations, without prejudice to the inde- pendence and sovereignty of the State of Palestine, or to its territorial integrity and geographical contiguity. Therefore, it is inconceivable that Israel continues its settlement policies; build more housing units in the settlements and expand others at the time when the parties seek to reach a just and comprehensive solution.
4. Negotiations cannot succeed without a complete cessation of all set- tlement activities, including the so-called natural growth. The contin- uation of settlement activities would render negotiations futile and leaves nothing for the parties to negotiate about in the future..
5. Aggressive, provocative and racist practices of Israeli settlers who target Palestinian civilians and their property in the occupied Pales- tinian territories are a major obstacle to peace. They undermine the prospects for future coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis and provoke more hatred between the two sides.
1. Achieving peace is a sure way to provide security for all and not vice versa.
2. Security is a sovereign right for the two states of Palestine and Israel to live side by side in peace, cooperation and good-neighborly relations.
3. There is no need for any Israeli military or security presence on the territory of the independent State of Palestine, namely in the Jordan Valley. Yet there is a chance to deploy a third party for an agreed upon period of time if such a deployment answers Israel’s security concerns.
4. The Jordan Valley is an integral part of the Palestinian territories Israel occupied in 1967. It is vital for the Palestinian economy and develop- ment and there is no way that Israeli control over the Jordan Valley be accepted, whatever the Israeli security excuses are.
5. The State of Palestine won’t enter any axes or military alliances with parties that would threaten the security of Israel or imperil peace, se- curity and stability in the region.
6. The State of Palestine has the right to maintain strong security forces that are capable of providing security, safety and order for its citizens.
The Jewish State
1. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has already recognized the state of Israel in 1993 in the mutual recognition document.
2. Raising the issue of the Jewish State is nothing but an attempt to obstruct the peace process.
3. The Arab countries that have signed peace agreements with Isra- el (Egypt and Jordan) recognized the State of Israel and were never asked to recognize the Jewishness of the state.
4. When advisers to former US President Harry Truman asked him in 1948 to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, he scratched with his handwriting the term “Jewish State” and replaced it with the words “State of Israel.”
5. If Israel wants to change its name into something else it can go to the
United Nations and ask for a new recognition.
6. All official documents issued by Israel, both internally and externally, bear the words “State of Israel”, including personal identification doc- uments held by every Israeli citizen. Therefore, it is unreasonable to demand from the Palestinians to recognize a name which differs from the name which Israel has been carrying since its proclamation.
The Arab Peace Initiative
The Council of Arab States at the Summit Level at its 14th Ordinary Session, Reaffirming the resolution taken in June 1996 at the Cairo Extra-Ordinary Arab Summit that a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East is the strategic option of the Arab countries, to be achieved in accordance with international legality, and which would require a reciprocal commitment on the part of the Israeli government,
Having listened to the statement made by His Royal Highness Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Ara- bia, in which his highness presented his initiative calling for full Israe- li withdrawal from all the Arab territories occupied since June 1967, in implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, that were reaffirmed by the Madrid Conference of 1991 and the land-for- peace principle, and Israel’s acceptance of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, in return for the establishment of normal relations in the context of a comprehensive peace with Israel,
Emanating from the conviction of the Arab countries that a military solu- tion to the conflict did not achieve peace or provide security for the par- ties, the council:
1. Requests Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as well.
2. Further calls upon Israel to do the following:
I- Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, in- cluding the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.
II- Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194.
III- The acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent
Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4,
1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
3. Consequently, the Arab countries affirm the following:
I- Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region.
II- Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this compre- hensive peace.
4. Assures the rejection of all forms of settling Palestinians in whichever way that contradicts the special circumstances of the Arab host coun- tries.
5. Calls upon the government of Israel and all Israelis to accept this ini- tiative in order to safeguard the prospects for peace and stop further shedding of blood, enabling the Arab countries and Israel to live in peace and good neighborliness and provide future generations with security, stability and prosperity.
6. Invites the international community and all countries and organiza- tions to support this initiative.
7. Requests the chairman of the summit to form a special committee composed of some of its concerned member states and the secretary general of the League of Arab States to pursue the necessary contacts to gain support for this initiative at all levels, particularly from the United Nations, the Security Council, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the Muslim states and the European Union.