Jerome M. Segal, PhD, Senior Research Scholar at the University of Maryland's Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, wrote in a Mar. 17, 2006 Ha'aretz article "Avoiding Ambiguity on the 'Right to Exist'":
"I recall one conversation with PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] leaders in particular. I was meeting with Khalid al-Hassan, one of the senior leaders in Fatah and a moderate. Hassan said the PLO could accept the first two conditions [(1)acceptance of UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338; (2)a renunciation of terrorism], but the third, recognizing Israel's right to exist 'was ideology.' Initially, this was puzzling, because the PLO was seeking to enter into negotiations with Israel in order to end the conflict through the creation of an independent Palestinian State.
Yet, Hassan's point was well taken. First of all, the concept of a state having a right to exist was, and is, outside the conceptual bounds of existing international law. It had no standing meaning. Was the right being referred to a legal right or a moral right? And more fundamentally, did it refer to a right to have come into existence, or a right to remain in existence?
When Hassan said the affirmation of Israel's right to exist was ideology, he was interpreting it as an affirmation that Israel had a moral right to come into existence. As to Israel's right, under international law, to come into existence, within a few months, the PLO reversed the historic stance of Palestinian nationalism. On November 15, 1988, in the text of its Declaration of Independence, the PLO affirmed for the first time that the historic Partition Resolution of 1947, (UNGA Res. 181) was part of valid international law, thus accepting that Israel came into being lawfully. Indeed, the Declaration of Independence specifically noted the factual truth that the Partition Resolution provided for 'two states, one Arab and one Jewish.'
What the PLO did not say, then or ever, was that Israel had a moral right to come into being. To do this would be to affirm the central ideological tenet of the Zionist movement. While such a view was widely shared by much of the world in 1947, there was virtually no Palestinian in the world who believed that then, hardly any that believed it in 1988, and scarcely more today."
Yasser Arafat, the late PLO Chairman and leader of Fatah, wrote in a Sep. 9, 1993 letter to former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin prior to the signing of the 1993 Oslo Declaration of Principles:
"The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security.
The PLO accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
The PLO commits itself to the Middle East peace process, and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations.
The PLO considers that the signing of the Declaration of Principles constitutes a historic event, inaugurating a new epoch of peaceful coexistence, free from violence and all other acts which endanger peace and stability. Accordingly, the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators
In view of the promise of a new era and the signing of the Declaration of Principles and based on Palestinian acceptance of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the PLO affirms that those articles of the Palestinian Covenant which deny Israel's right to exist, and the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the commitments of this letter are now inoperative and no longer valid. Consequently, the PLO undertakes to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant."