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November 30, 2009 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 566

Egypt's Palestinian Reconciliation Document

November 30, 2009 | By C. Jacob*
Palestine, Egypt | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 566

Introduction

In the past year, Egypt has carried out an ongoing effort of mediation between Hamas and Fatah, in a bid to end the internal Palestinian conflict. In October 2009, it demanded that the two sides sign a reconciliation agreement, which Fatah signed but Hamas rejected.

An examination of the document, which was published in the Palestinian and Arab press, reveals that it includes a clause stressing "the Palestinian people's right to resistance and to defending the homeland and the residents"; however, this issue is dealt with more explicitly in an appendix to the document called "The Charter of Honor." This appendix includes two clauses on the right of resistance: one states, "The Palestinian people have the right to resistance and to rising up against the occupation and the aggression," and the other states, "The resistance and its weapons must be preserved in dealing with the occupation." The Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam mentioned the existence of the appendix but did not publish it. The text of the appendix was published on the Hamas-affiliated website www.palestine-info.info, and in the Qatari daily Al-Sharq. [1]

Following are the main points of the reconciliation document, as published in the Palestinian Authority daily Al-Ayyam, [2] as well as the main points of the Charter of Honor, and reservations submitted by Hamas on the reconciliation agreement.

The Reconciliation Document - Reserving the Right to Resistance

"1. The Palestinian Liberation Organization [PLO]

"The Palestinian Liberation Organization should be operated and developed according to principles that will be satisfactory to the sides, such that it will include all the Palestinian forces and factions in accordance with the March 2005 Cairo agreement and the second section of the June 2006 National Agreement document...

"The national interest requires the establishment of a new Palestinian National Council [PNC] that will assure the representation of all the national and Islamic forces, factions, and parties, and also of all the associations of our people everywhere, and of all the sectors, institutions, and personages everywhere possible, according to the principle of proportional representation and by agreement... The PNC's term will be four years, [and elections for it will be held] at the same time as the elections for the Legislative Council. The PNC elections will be by the method of full proportional representation, according to the law that will be agreed-upon...

"2. Elections

"The presidential, Legislative Council, and PNC elections will be held simultaneously, on June 26, 2010, and all [the factions] are bound by this. The PNC elections will be by the method of full proportional representation in the homeland and abroad, wherever possible, while the Legislative Council elections will be held by a combined method: 75% will be elected according to lists [i.e. proportional representation] and 25% will be elected according to region [i.e. regional representation]...

"The elections will be held under Arab and international oversight, and all possible arrangements will be made to assure that they are held under conditions equally appropriate to all and in an atmosphere of [electoral] freedom, fairness, and transparency, in the West Bank and in Gaza... The presidential and Legislative Council elections will be held in all areas of the Palestinian Authority, including Jerusalem...

"3. Security

"Since our Palestinian people is still living in the phase of national liberation, the security apparatuses in the West Bank and Gaza [must provide] security to the homeland and the residents... Standards and principles will be established for the rebuilding of the security apparatuses, for determining their hierarchy, and for uniting them...

"Every transfer of information to the enemy that harms the homeland, the Palestinian residents, or the resistance will be considered high treason, for which the law dictates punishment.

"There must be no political arrests.

"The security apparatuses will respect the right of the Palestinian people to resistance and to defending the homeland and the residents...

"There will be a ban on establishing military bodies outside the framework that is permitted for every apparatus... The security apparatuses will respect the principles of human rights and the residents' honor, and cooperation among [the security apparatuses] will be maintained... The use of weapons [by the security apparatuses] is banned except for purposes of discharging their duties..."

"A supreme security committee will be established, by order of the Palestinian president, and it will comprise professional officers, by agreement. The Egyptians and representatives of the Arab countries will oversee the committee so as to monitor its implementation of the National Agreement Document in the West Bank and in Gaza. One of the [committee's] missions will be to lay out security policy and to oversee its implementation. The Palestinian security apparatuses will be reestablished, and so will the hierarchy [of these apparatuses] with the help of Egypt and the Arab countries, in the West Bank and Gaza... Immediately upon the signing of the agreement, 3,000 members of the previous security apparatuses - the police, the national security forces, and the civil defense forces - will be integrated in the existing security apparatuses in Gaza. Their number will be gradually increased until Legislative Council elections are held, according to an agreed-upon mechanism...

"The missions of the security apparatuses [are]: National security - defense of the land's sovereignty... defense of the homeland from external aggression, dealing with external and internal threats... military representation in the national representations abroad...

"The missions of the internal security apparatus/Preventive Security [are]: fighting espionage operations in PA territory, monitoring and preventing crimes endangering PA internal security, uncovering crimes against government institutions and public institutions and their employees...

"The missions of the General Intelligence Apparatus [are]: According to the General Intelligence Apparatus Law - taking the necessary steps for preventing any operation that endangers Palestine's security and wellbeing, and undertaking the necessary operations against their perpetrators, according to the law; uncovering external dangers liable to harm Palestinian national security that involve espionage, conspiracy, sabotage, or any other activity that endangers the security, unity, and independence of the homeland...

"4. The National Reconciliation

"There will be an immediate halt to all types of reciprocal incitement and reciprocal harassment of all kinds, and the implementation [of these directives] will be monitored. Large-scale public gatherings will be held, with the participation of all sectors of society (schools, universities, and public associations), and an informational campaign will be launched, with the aim of creating an atmosphere of reconciliation and tolerance in society. All informational platforms will be involved [in this campaign], including mosques, in order to accomplish the goal... Those harmed by the internal violence and chaos are to be given a sympathetic ear; the material, emotional, and property damage caused them will be estimated, and principles of compensation for them will be determined... There must be action to remove organizational, clan, and family backing from all those who attack people and harm property. A Charter of Honor will be published; it will underline the prohibition against waging internal war and will determine a monitoring apparatus for this matter.

"There is agreement on a special Charter of Honor for the National Palestinian Reconciliation (Appendix I).

"5. The Joint Committee for Implementing the National Reconciliation

"The establishment of the committee: A committee will be established, with 16 members from Fatah, Hamas, the [other] factions, and independents. The Fatah and Hamas movements will produce a list of names for membership [in the committee], and President Mahmoud Abbas will issue a presidential order to establish the committee after there is agreement on who its members are to be.

"The committee's source of authority: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is the source of authority, in the capacity of his position as PLO chairman and PA president... [The committee's] role will end with the holding of elections in the PA and the formation of the government.

"The committee's tasks: The joint committee will implement the National Agreement Document, which is to be implemented in the homeland by means of holding reciprocal contacts with the elements concerned, including the following: preparing the atmosphere for holding presidential, Legislative Council, and PNC elections; oversight of the handling of the issues of the internal Palestinian reconciliation; and monitoring Gaza rehabilitation operations.

"The unification of the PA institutions in the West Bank and in Gaza: The institutions of the PA in the West Bank and in Gaza will be unified in coordination with those concerned, based on the principle of partnership and national agreement, and of strengthening national unity...

"Restoring the state of the non-governmental associations and institutions: The non-governmental associations and institutions that were closed down or [from which materials were] seized should be restored to their state prior to June 14, 2007 in the West Bank and in Gaza, immediately upon the signing of the National Agreement Document, and action should be taken to return the material [to them] and to compensate them for any damage caused to them...

"Handling civil and administrative problems caused following the split [between Fatah and Hamas]: Solving the civil and administrative problems that emerged following the split (after June 14, 2007) [includes] solving the problems of workers who were harmed by the split; reuniting of the government and constitutional institutions; preservation of the independence of the judiciary authority; and renewal of the function of these institutions, according to the Basic Law, the relevant laws, and the National Agreement [Document]... These issues include employee appointments, rank advancement, dismissals, stopping of salaries, and [worker] mobility among institutions and government offices...

"6. The Detainees

"Each side will release the detainees from all factions that it is holding, immediately upon the signing of the agreement. Following the release of all detainees, each side will hand over to Egypt a list of the names of any detainees whose release was refused [by the sides], and the explanations for the refusal, and will submit a report on the matter to the Fatah and Hamas leaderships."

The Charter of Honor

Following is the "Charter of Honor," as published on the Hamas-affiliated website palestine-info.info: [3]

"The Palestinian people, throughout its long history, has shaped its national identity by means of the convoys of the fallen, wounded, and detainees whom it presented as defense of its land, its cause, and its holy places... Out of belief in the need to find a consolidated internal front by means of which we will work to realize the goals of our people and the defense of our rights, for the liberation of our land, and for the restoration of our rights, and taking into account the negative impact of the split, we in the National Reconciliation Committee of the Palestinian Dialogue Conference have agreed to be bound by the sections of this Charter of Honor and to act in accordance with them.

"In order to underline our wish to end the split and to deal with its ramifications, and to defend our internal front, and in order to prevent a recurrence of the regrettable events, the Charter of Honor includes the following principles:

"-An emphasis on the ban on internal fighting and a distancing from armed conflict, whatever the circumstances, and whatever acute differences there may be.

"-An emphasis on the general principle that the Palestinians have defined over time: Dialogue must be the only means of communication among them, and of resolving conflicts among them.

"-A ban on arrests and a halt to expulsions and persecution based on political affiliation...

"-Honoring of all laws that are in force; it must be emphasized that all [citizens] are equal under the law.

"-Protection of the general and personal freedoms of individuals and groups...

"-An emphasis on a ban on all forms of media and social incitement.

"-An emphasis on political partnership and on the principle of the peaceful handover of power.

"-The Palestinian people's right to resistance and to rise up against the occupation and the aggression.

"-The preservation of the resistance and its weapons in its confrontation with the occupation; [However, the weapons] must not be involved in family, clan, and inter-organizational disputes.

"-Assurance of everyone's right to employment, based on ability and professionalism.

"-Rejection of the policy of firing, exclusion, and stopping of salaries due to political affiliation."

Hamas's Reservations and Demands for Clarification

In the second half of October, Hamas announced its refusal to sign the reconciliation agreement. It claimed that it had agreed to sign the document submitted to it in September 2009, while the document it was now being asked to sign was different - some sections had been omitted. Therefore, Hamas said, it had the right to submit reservations and demand clarifications.

The following are Hamas's questions and reservations on the reconciliation agreement: [4]

1. A request for clarification of Abbas' statement that he would only sign the reconciliation agreement if Hamas accepted the Quartet's conditions (one of which is Hamas recognition of Israel).

2. A request for clarification of the section banning security apparatuses except for authorized ones - Does that mean that Hamas' security apparatuses are to be dismantled?

3. A request for clarification of the clause advocating cooperation between PA security apparatuses and friendly countries; in the Hamas' view, this legitimizes security cooperation between the Palestinians and Israel.

4. A request for clarification of the clause stating that 3,000 [PA] security personnel would be returned to Gaza. In that case, what would be the status of Hamas's 11,000-strong Executive Force?

5. The agreement does not refer to U.S. General Dayton's security force in the West Bank; does this imply that Hamas' hands would be tied in all matters pertaining to West Bank security?

6. One clause in the agreement respects and recognizes the right of resistance, while another bans the resistance and its weapons. That is, the document both acknowledges and delegitimizes the right of resistance.

7. A request for a clarification of the clause establishing the PA president as the source of authority.

8. Hamas will only sign the agreement under the following conditions: cancelling the U.S. requirements regarding the Road Map and the Quartet principles; recognition of Hamas by the Arab and international community if it is victorious in the upcoming elections; lifting the siege on Gaza and establishing procedures for opening the Rafah crossing; release of Hamas members from prisons in Egypt. [5]

* C. Jacob is a Research Fellow at MEMRI

Endnotes:

[1] The Qatari daily asked whether Fatah had signed the appendix or had only signed the reconciliation document itself, because the Road Map plan, to which Fatah and the Palestinian Authority had committed, states that the resistance and all its armed branches must be disarmed. Al-Sharq (Qatar), October 21, 2009.

[2] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), October 14, 2009.

[3] www.palestine-info.info, October 14, 2009.

[4] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), October 19, October 23, 2009; www.palestine-info.info, October 19, 2009; Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), October 18, 2009.

[5] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), October 19, 2009, October 23, 2009; www.palestine-info.info, October 19, 2009; Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), October 18, 2009.

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