Last updated on: 12/29/2011 12:08:17 PM PST

What Is the 1968 Palestinian National Charter (PLO Charter)?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Ian J. Bickerton, PhD, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern History at the University of New South Wales, and Carla L. Klausner, PhD, Professor of the Modern Middle East at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, in their 2002 edition of A Concise History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, wrote:

"In July 1968, at a meeting of the Palestine National Council (PNC) in Cairo, the original PLO covenant -- drafted when the PLO was formed in 1964 -- was amended. Both old and new articles [of the covenant] negated Israel's right to exist and included the principle of armed struggle in the liberation of Palestine. In Article 10 of the new document [1968 Charter], the fedayeen ['those who sacrifice themselves'] were named as the nucleus of the armed struggle. In resolutions adopted in the same period, the PNC suggested that Israel be replaced by a 'democratic, secular' state. As Palestinians themselves admitted, this was a euphemism for propaganda purposes to dismantle Israel and was intended to replace the admittedly ineffective slogan of 'driving the Jews into the sea.' Israel insisted that the covenant be disavowed or changed before it would even consider dealing with the PLO."

2002 - Carla L. Klausner, PhD 
Ian J. Bickerton, PhD 

Dilip Hiro, MA, author and journalist, in his 2003 book The Essential Middle East / A Comprehensive Guide, wrote:

"Though originally adopted by the Palestine National Council (PNC) at its inaugural session in East Jerusalem in May-June 1964, the Palestine National Charter became significant in July 1968, when the fourth PNC congress in Cairo inserted the statement: 'Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine.' Of the thirty three articles in the charter the other important ones were:

  • 'Palestine, with the boundaries under the British mandate, is the homeland of Palestinian Arabs and is indivisible' (Articles 1 and 2);

  • 'the Jews who lived in Palestine before the Zionist immigration are considered Palestinian' (Article 6);

  • 'the partition of Palestine and the founding of Israel are illegal since they violated the will of Palestinians and the principle of self-determination included in the United Nations Charter' (Article 19);

  • 'the Balfour Declaration and the British mandate for Palestine are null and void' (Article 20);

  • 'the Palestinians reject all solutions which are substitutes for total liberation of Palestine' (Article 21); and

  • 'Zionism, associated with international imperialism, is racist, expansionist and colonial, and Israel is the instrument of the Zionist movement' (Article 22).

  • Although in November 1988 the PNC abandoned some of the basic principles of the Charter (such as use of the armed struggle to liberate Palestine as constituted under the British mandate), it did not amend the Charter. But on the eve of the signing of an accord between the PLO and Israel in September 1993, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat stated in a letter to Israeli Premier Yizhak Rabin that those articles in the Palestine National Charter that denied Israel's right to exist and contradicted the PLO's commitment to renounce terrorism and other acts of violence would henceforth be 'inoperative and no longer valid,' and added that the PLO would submit to the PNC for formal approval the necessary changes in the Charter. The Palestinian representatives passed a resolution radically altering the Palestine National Charter, with only a few dozen dissenting. The resolution endorsed the letter that Yasser Arafat had addressed to Clinton in January 1998, revoking those paragraphs of the Charter that clashed with the 1993 Oslo Accord."

    Full Text: 1968 PLO Charter

    2003 - Dilip Hiro, MA 

    [Editor’s Note: In his Sep. 9, 1993 letter to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat stated that those articles in the Palestinian National Charter which deny Israel's right to exist or are inconsistent with the PLO's new commitments to Israel following the mutual recognition of the Oslo Accords, are no longer valid. Arafat also stated that "the PLO undertakes to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant.”

    On May 4, 1996, the Palestinian National Council wrote a resolution in its 21st session held in Gaza City declaring its intention to amend the Palestinian National Charter by "canceling the articles that are contrary to the letters exchanged between the P.L.O. and the Government of Israel 9-10 September 1993.” The Council assigned its legal committee with the task of redrafting the Palestinian National Charter in order to "present it to the first session of the Palestinian central council.”

    On Jan. 13, 1998, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat sent a letter to US President Bill Clinton outlining the specific articles of the Charter that were nullified or amended as a result of that decision, and wrote that "all of the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the PLO commitment to recognize and live in peace side by side with Israel are no longer in effect.”

    On Dec. 14, 1998, in accordance with the Wye River Memorandum, both the PLO Executive Committee and the PLO Central Council reaffirmed this decision in the presence of President Clinton. President Clinton addressed the assembled Palestinian officials by stating, "I thank you for your rejection—fully, finally and forever—of the passages in the Palestinian Charter calling for the destruction of Israel. For they were the ideological underpinnings of a struggle renounced at Oslo. By revoking them once and for all, you have sent, I say again, a powerful message not to the government, but to the people of Israel. You will touch people on the street there. You will reach their hearts there.”

    As of June 16, 2006, the most recent date of the Palestinian National Charter on the official PLO website, the July 1-17, 1968 Charter remains in its original form, with an outline of the intended updates mentioned above. A more recent version of the Charter could not be found as of Dec. 29, 2011.

    On Mar. 28, 2011, according to Eurasia Review, PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas asked the Executive Committee of the PLO to convene a Constitution Committee for the first time since 2006 with the intention of amending the PLO Charter by Sep. 31, 2011. As of Dec. 29, 2011, this committee has not convened and the Charter remains unchanged.]