Arafat (right) signed the accord without the PLO’s sanction
— by David Bedein
Recently, US Secretary of State John Kerry passionately called for the renewal of talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Former President Bill Clinton, who hosted the PLO-Israel ceremonies on the White House lawn twenty years ago, is on his way to Jerusalem for high profile lectures, where he will also call for renewal of negotiations. And Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, who served as Israel’s foreign minister at the outset of negotiations with the PLO two decades ago, is about to convene thousands of dignitaries at a conference at the President’s mansion, that will call to expedite negotiations with the PLO.
Veteran observers of middle east politics may ask: what is there to negotiate about?
More after the jump.
Indeed, there is an item on the table that is hardly a minor detail: The Palestinian Liberation Organization did not ratify the Oslo Accords after Yasser Arafat and Mahmuod Abbas signed them on the White House lawn.
On September 13, 1993, at the White House, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin and Israeli Foreign Minister Simon Peres signed the “Declaration of Principles” (DOP) between Israel and the PLO together with Arafat and Abbas. The agreement, which had been hammered out in Oslo, stipulated mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO. It required the PLO to cease and desist from terrorism, and for the PLO to nullify its covenant, which calls for Israel’s destruction.
The Israeli Knesset ratified the accord one week later, by a vote of 61 to 50, with 9 abstentions. However, what received hardly any attention was the fact that on October 6, 1993, the PLO executive did not ratify the Oslo accord, for lack of a quorum.
Very few people know or remember that Pinchas Inbari, the only Israeli correspondent covering the PLO in Tunis at the time, writing for the Israeli left-wing Hebrew newspaper Al HaMishmar, broke the story that Arafat announced in Tunis that he could not get a quorum of the executive council of the PLO to ratify the Declaration of Principles of the Oslo Accords. Al HaMishmar then ran a headline, which reported that the PLO did not ratify the accord.
Yossi Beilin was sent to Tunis to thank Arafat for the ratification of Oslo, which never happened
Carrying Al HaMishmar in my hand, I walked into the office of the Israel Government Press Office director at the time, Mr. Ori Dromi, and showed him the headline. Dromi, an appointee of Rabin, made it clear that from the Israeli government’s point of view, this meant that Arafat signed the accord without the sanction of the PLO.
The rest of the Israeli media, however, did not report that the PLO never ratified the accord, and the Israeli government acted as if it had done so.
Inbari was scheduled to appear on Kol Yisrael’s popular morning radio show when he got back from Tunis. However, the Prime Minister’s office asked Kol Yisrael to cancel that appearance. Instead, the Israeli government dispatched then-Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yossi Beilin, to fly to Tunis to thank Arafat for facilitating the ratification of the Oslo accord, which the PLO never did.
Why is this important? According to the Israeli law, since the PLO did not ratify the Oslo accord, which renounce terrorism, the PLO and Fatah were never stricken from Israeli law books as “a terrorist entity,” a status that the PLO received on March 1, 1980.
The same goes for American law. In March 2002, US government designated the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades of the Fatah as a terror organization. That designation was never changed. Under US law, any government that aids and abets an organization defined as a terror organization will forfeit US foreign aid assistance.
On two occasions, the Palestinian National. Council gathered to discuss the PLO Covenant, which calls for Israel’s destruction: on April 24, 1996 and on December 14, 1998. On neither occasion did the PNC cancel it.
In other words, there is a real reason to renew negotiations with the PLO: The first items on the agenda would be to ask that the PLO finally ratify the Declaration of Principles of non violence and mutual recognition, which constituted the essence of the Oslo Accord. The other request would be to cancel the PLO Covenant.
Aren’t those requests reasonable?
- Dangers of Further US Aid to the PLO Army
- Threat of Planned PLO Army Deployment in Hebron and Jerusalem
- UNRWA and PA for War Curriculum, financed by US and the West
- Conflicts of Interests of Israeli businesses invested in the Palestinian Authority