Coming nearly a quarter-century after the establishment of the
The October 1973 war
, and the sense of relative military balance that it produced, gave rise to the illusion that a comprehensive political settlement could be reached based on the principle of Israel’s withdrawal from Arab territories occupied in 1967. This placed the
On the basis of this shift in position, the PLO was able to achieve a number of political gains. At the seventh
Yet as the PLO prepared itself to participate in efforts to reach a political settlement, such a settlement remained a distant mirage, especially after
After May 1983, the PLO experienced a crisis of internal division (compounded by its dispersal in several Arab countries and the new realities created by the signing of the Camp David Accords) from which it did not emerge until the eighteenth PNC session, held in
Indeed, this uprising finally relocated the center of gravity of the Palestinian national struggle from outside Palestine to the occupied territories. It also left a significant impact on Palestinian political thought and its development, as the Unified National Leadership of the Uprising
focused on two goals: freedom and independence. Through the resistance activities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the imagined borders of a Palestinian state emerged on the basis of the Green Line
that separates the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 from the Palestinian lands of 1948. The intifada also returned the Palestinian issue to the top of list of Arab concerns and prompted the Jordanian government to issue its decision, on 31 July 1988, to decouple the legal and administrative ties between the East and West Banks of the
The PLO leadership thus felt, particularly in light of the international climate of détente generated by the Soviet policy of perestroika, that the conditions were ripe to put forward a peaceful political initiative. At the conclusion of the nineteenth PNC session, held in Algiers in mid-November 1988, a Declaration of Independence was issued, declaring “the State of Palestine in our land of Palestine, with
The Declaration of Independence also affirmed, for the first time since its inception, the PLO’s acceptance of the international decision to partition Palestine: “Despite the historical injustice done to the Palestinian Arab people in its displacement and in being deprived of the right to self-determination following the adoption of General Assembly resolution 181 of 1947, which partitioned Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish State, that resolution nevertheless continues to attach conditions of international legitimacy that guarantee the Palestinian Arab people the right to sovereignty and national independence.” In spite of opposition from some PLO factions, the political communiqué issued at the PNC session announced the PLO’s acceptance of UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 as the basis for convening an international peace conference, in which the PLO would participate on an equal footing with other parties. The PLO also restated, after confirming “the right of peoples to resist foreign occupation,” its rejection of “terrorism in all of its forms, including state terrorism.”
In doing so, the PLO acceded to the
After the Gulf War
, which ended in the defeat of the Iraqi army and its withdrawal from Kuwait, the PLO found itself under siege—political and financial, Arab and international. Under intense pressure, it had little choice but to accept US terms to participate in an international peace conference convened by the US administration in October 1991. This conference in concert with secret negotiations between PLO representatives and the Israeli government led to the September 1993 Palestinian-Israeli
Khalidi, Rashid. “The Resolutions of the 19th Palestine National Council.” Journal of Palestine Studies 19, no.2 (Winter 1990): 29–42.
Said, Edward W. “From Intifada to Independence.” Middle East Report 158 (May–June 1989): 12–16.
Sayigh, Yezid. Armed Struggle and the Search for State: The Palestinian National Movement, 1949–1993. Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies and Oxford University Press, 1997.