January 13, 1964 Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Fatah


The PLO came into being as a result of a resolution engineered by Nasser at the first Arab Summit Meeting in Cairo, January 13-16, 1964. Nasser aided by Syrian prime minister Amin al-Hafez and Iraqi president ‘Abd al-Salam ‘Aref, sought to forge a subservient Palestinian instrument with which to batter Israel, while at the same time restraining independent initiatives. (The first Fatah or al-Assifa operations were launched partly in reaction to the establishment of the PLO―to show the world that the Palestinians were not going to be ruled or manipulated by fellow Arabs)

The Acre-born Ahmed Shukeiry, a veteran Palestinian-Arab diplomat, who had served as both Syrian and Saudi ambassador to the UN, was called on to set up the organization. At the end of May, the founding conference convened in Jerusalem’s Palace Hall movie house. About four hundred representatives of the Palestinian diaspora and various organizations, including twelve delegates from Fatah, took part. The conference in effect constituted itself into the Palestine National Charter (PNC), a parliament-in-exile, and on May 28 issued the Palestinian National Charterwhich denied Israel’s right to exist and posited the establishment in its place of an Arab state. THE CHARTER AFFIRMED THE PALESTINIAN’ RIGHT TO “RETURN” TO THE COUNTRY AND ASSERTED THAT “ARMED STRUGGLE IS THE ONLY WAY TO LIBERATE PALESTINE.” THE PLO “AIMS AT THE ELIMINATION OF ZIONISM IN PALESTINE,” IT STATED. THE 1947 PARTITION WAS DEEMED “ILLEGAL” AND ALL OF PALESTINE’S POLITICAL HISTORY, FROM “THE BALFOUR DECLARATION” TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ISRAEL, WAS DECLARED “NULL AND VOID.” THE JEWS’ “CLAIMS OF HISTORICAL OR RELIGIOUS TIES … WITH PALESTINE” AND TO A DISTINCT “NATIONALITY” WERE DENIED. THE CHARTER STATED THAT JUDAISM WAS ONLY A “RELIGION” AND ZIONISM WAS DEEMED “RACIST AND FANATIC … AGGRESSIVE, EXPANSIONIST AND COLONIALIST IN ITS AIMS, AND FASCIST IN ITS METHODS.” In effect the charter called for Israel’s destruction and provided for only a minority of the Jews resident in the country to continue to live there.

FATAH’S OPERATIONS―BACKED BY SYRIA―WERE A MAJOR CATALYST IN THE DETERIORATION OF ISRAELI-ARAB RELATIONS THAT LED TO THE SIX-DAY WAR. But the “war of popular liberation,” as advocated in the charter, only got off the ground in the wake of that disaster. Largely unsuccessful, it unfolded over the following three years, at the same time as Egypt’s ‘War of Attrition’ along the Canal; some observers regarded the Palestinian effort as the “eastern adjunct” of that war. The Palestinians’ war had two theaters: the “interior,” in which guerillas and terrorists acted against targets inside the occupied territories and in Israel proper; and the “exterior,” in which raiding squads crossed the border from the east bank of Jordan and Lebanon and attacked idf patrols and installations along the borders, or civilian targets inside the country.

The “interior” campaign came first. On June 12, 1967, two days after the Six-Day war ended, the heads of Fatah met in Damascus and resolved to renew the guerilla war, but only inside the occupied territories and Israel rather than across the borders from the Arab states. They decided to open an emergency fund-raising campaign; to establish new bases along the Jordanian and Lebanese borderds; to collect arms; and to organize resistance calles in the territiories , particularly the West Bank. Fatah announced:

“Our organization has decided to continue struggling against the Zionist conqueror. We are planning to operate far from the Arab states so that they will not suffer Israeli reprisals for Fedayeen actions … We are united in our resolve to free our stolen homeland from the hands of the Zionists.”

Source: Morris, Benny. Righteous Victims. p365

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