Last updated on: 5/19/2008 11:47:00 AM PST

What Is the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP)?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The Palestinian Authority, as of 2003, posted an article on its official website which contained the following description of the DFLP:

"Extreme left Marxist-Maoist group led by Nayef Hawatmeh (Abu Nouf). Formed as Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PDFLP) after splitting from the PFLP in February 1969 following a leadership dispute and became the DFLP in August 1974. It drew most of its supporters from the intelligentsia, mainly Palestinian students abroad, and played a major role in placing the idea of democratic Palestinian state, with equal rights for Jews and Arabs, on the political agenda. Adopted pragmatic positions and known [sic] as an early advocate of dialogue with the extreme left of Israel. It was a member of the United National Leadership of the Uprising (UNLU) during the Intifada, and now opposes the Oslo process. Marginalized since the signing of Declaration of Principles (DOP). The group's official headquarters are in Damascus. A DFLP-Arafat reconciliation took place in Cairo in Aug. 1999, where both sides defined red lines regarding the final status issue. Currently represented in the PLO Executive Committee by Taysir Khalid."

2003 - Palestinian Authority (PA) 

Dilip Hiro, MA, journalist and author, in his 2003 book The Essential Middle East / A Comprehensive Guide contained the following description of the DFLP:

"A breakaway group of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) was formed in 1969 by Nayif Hawatmeh and Bilal Hassan. By launching guerrilla actions against Israel, it secured an invitation to join the Palestine Armed Struggle Command (PASC) run by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Within a year the DFLP's guerrilla force of 1,200 became the fourth largest.

The DFLP stressed that the Palestinian and Jordanian struggles were complementary. Its first open congress, in August 1970 in Amman [Jordan], advocated the overthrow of the Hashemite dynasty and the founding of a democratic regime. But the bitter experience of September 1970 [called Black September]-- when Palestinian civilians and commandos suffered heavy losses at the hands of the Jordanian army -- had a salutary effect on the DFLP.

Following its expulsion from Jordan to Beirut, it moderated its criticism of other parties and regional Arab regimes. At the Palestine National Council (PNC) session in June 1974 the DFLP was the prime mover behind the PNC's acceptance of resolution calling for the establishment of a 'national authority' in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as the first step toward the liberation of the 'whole of Palestine.' In Lebanon the DFLP allied with the leftist Lebanese National Movement (LNM) during the Lebanese Civil War. In line with its policy of talking to those Israelis who were either anti-Zionist or simply ready to recognize the Palestinians' right to 'an independent national authority' in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it held talks with the Israeli Socialist Organization.

After its expulsion from Beirut in 1982, the DFLP moved its base to Damascus. In the Mid-1980s it cooperated with other radical Palestinian groups to frustrate the plan of the PLO chairman, Yasser Arafat, and King Hussein of Jordan to enter into secret peace talks with Israel. It strongly opposed the Israeli-PLO accord [a.k.a. 1993 Oslo Declaration of Prinicples] signed in September 1993, refusing to moderate its stance. As a result, a year later the Palestinian Authority (PA), arrested forty DFLP activists in 1994. It was not until October 1999 that the DFLP made its peace with the PA. This resulted in its name being removed from Washington's list of terrorist organizations. It participated in the al Aqsa Intifada launched by the Palestinians in September 2000."

2003 - Dilip Hiro, MA 

International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, as of 2003, its website contained the following description of the DFLP under the heading of "Profiles of Terrorist Organization active in the Arab-Israeli Conflict":

"The DFLP is a Marxist-Leninist and formerly pro-Soviet group that split from the Popular Font for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in 1969. It believes that Palestinian goals can only be achieved by a popular revolution of the working class; elite members of the movement should not be separated from the masses and the lower classes should be educated in true socialism to carry on the battle. At the spring 1977 Palestine National Council meeting, the DFLP gave full support to the Palestine national program, seeking the creation of a Palestinian state in any territory liberated from Israel."

2003 - International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT)