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memri
August 31, 2009 No.
541

Fatah Sixth General Conference Resolutions: Pursuing Peace Option Without Relinquishing Resistance or Right to Armed Struggle

By: C. Jacob*

On August 13, 2009, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud 'Abbas declared the end of the Fatah Sixth General Conference, during which the movement's amended political plan was ratified. [1]

This report will examine three aspects of the results of the conference: what, if any, changes were made in Fatah's charter; the stance taken by 'Abbas in his opening speech, which he stated should be viewed as expressing Fatah's political plan; and Fatah's updated official political plan.

No Change to Fatah Charter Calling for Elimination of Israel

The political plan that was ratified at the conference refers to Fatah's internal charter as follows: "The goals, principles, and methods, as they are written in Chapter One of the charter, are the basic point of departure for our movement, and are part of the ideological and political identity of our people. They are also the identity of the movement and its fundamental charter, since they were the basis for the beginning of the Palestinian revolution of our time and for liberation from the imperialist and racist yoke..." [2]

Fatah central committee member 'Azzam Al-Ahmad declared that the movement's charter remains as it was, without any changes. [3]

Fatah's charter - posted on the website www.fatehmedia.ps, which describes itself as the movement's mouthpiece, as well as on the websites www.alkofianews.maktoobblog.com and www.palvoice.com, which are affiliated with Fatah - still includes the following:

  • Chapter One, Section 17: "Popular armed revolution is the imperative and only way to liberate Palestine."
  • Chapter One, Section 19: "Armed struggle is a strategy, not a tactic. The armed revolution of the Arab Palestinian people is a crucial element in the battle for liberation and for the elimination of the Zionist presence. This struggle will not stop until the Zionist entity is eliminated and Palestine is liberated." [4]

Fatah's Political Plan

The plan ratified by the Fatah conference adopts peace as a strategic option, but states that pursuing the armed struggle against the occupation is a legitimate right. [5] Among the other types of resistance, the movement calls for adopting the model of resistance to the separation fence as conducted in the West Bank villages of Bil'in and Nil'in. The plan also calls to bequeath the legacy of the armed struggle to the Palestinian people.

The plan sets terms for renewing negotiations, first among them a halt to the settlements and also to any changes that Israel is making in Jerusalem. It opposes the idea of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, and includes a demand for the right of return, and restitution, for Palestinian refugees.

Following are the main points of the plan:

The Peace Option Must Be Adhered to - But Armed Struggle Is a Legitimate Right.

"Fatah launched the armed struggle for liberating the homeland. This method, and other methods of legitimate resistance [muqawama], are the right of the Palestinian people, recognized by international law, as long as our land is under occupation. The movement adopts a just and comprehensive peace as a strategic option, with various means of obtaining it; however, it will not accept stasis. It espouses various means of armed struggle in order to restore our inalienable rights...

"The struggle emanates from the right of the Palestinian people to resist the occupation and the settlements, expulsion and racist discrimination; and this is a right guaranteed by international law. Our revolutionary struggle began with the armed struggle against the armed robbery of our lands, but it has never been limited to armed struggle alone. Rather, it [has included] diverse means and methods - among these [also] peaceful means of struggle such as intifada, demonstrations, strikes, civil uprising, clashes with settler gangs, political, media, judicial, and diplomatic struggle, and negotiating with the occupation authorities.

"Thus, the Palestinian people's right to carry out armed struggle against the armed occupation will remain an inalienable right confirmed by international law. The method, timing, and place of struggle are determined based on the capability of the individual and of the public, on external and internal circumstances, on balance of power, on the need to defend the movement, and on the people's ability to carry out revolution, to stand fast, and to continue the struggle.

"In Fatah's judgment, the end does not justify the means. Some means contradict the movement's overall long-term goals - particularly when it has from the outset proposed humane solutions ensuring future coexistence among Muslims, Christians and Jews in a single democratic state. Since its founding, the Fatah movement has opposed harming civilians, whoever they are, just as it opposed transferring the battle arena abroad. Likewise, it has opposed the weapons anarchy, the chaos, and the use of weapons for negative [purposes]..."

Types of Resistance

"The Fatah movement clings to the Palestinian people's right to resist the occupation by all legitimate means, including the right to implement the armed struggle, as guaranteed by international law as long as the occupation and the settlements continue and as long as the Palestinian people is stripped of its inalienable rights. [Following] are the types of struggle in the current phase:

"Fatah espouses all types of legitimate struggle, and clings to the peace option without limiting [the means for attaining it] to negotiations [only]. Among the types of struggle that can be successfully carried out in the current situation [in order to] support and activate negotiations, or as an alternative to negotiations if its aims are not accomplished, are the following:

  • "Stimulating the popular struggle against the settlements, following the current successful paradigm - the ongoing confrontation in Bil'in and Nil'in against the settlements and the fence, and for the rescue of Jerusalem and against its Judaization. Our mission is to recruit all residents to join [this confrontation] activity and to gain popular participation of Arabs and foreigners, and to offer all help from the Palestinian Authority apparatuses in order to bring about its success. The most important activities must be headed by the movement's leaders from the Palestinian Authority and from the public [institutions].
  • "Devising new forms of struggle and resistance by means of popular initiative and initiatives by leaders on the ground, and by means of the determination of our people to stand fast and to resist, as guaranteed by international law.
  • "Boycotting Israeli products here and abroad, by means of popular activity, particularly consumables for which there are local alternatives, and implementing new forms of civil uprising against the occupation. [Also, implementing] activities for escalating the international campaign for boycotting Israel, its products, and its institutions, utilizing the experience of South Africa.
  • "Raising proposals and discussing strategic Palestinian alternatives in the event that the current negotiations fail to make progress - among them raising the idea of a united democratic state opposed to racism and to the hegemony of the occupation, and the development of the struggle against apartheid and Israeli racism, or a return to the idea of establishing a state within the 1967 borders and other strategic alternatives.
  • "Pursuing continuous activity to free the prisoners and detainees, to end the external siege, and [to remove] the internal roadblocks.
  • "Appealing to the U.N. and the Security Council to [discharge their] responsibility of ending the conflict and the occupation, and causing the Security Council to pass binding resolutions based on Chapter Seven of [the U.N.] charter.
  • "Renewing direct and close contacts with the Israeli peace camp and renewing its activity for a just peace without linking this with normalization - which is a policy that must be resisted as long as the occupation continues..."

Educating for the Armed Struggle and Sacrifice

"There must be continued commitment to educating [the people] for the struggle, for constant readiness to join the resistance against the occupation, and for sacrifice for the sake of the homeland. Field leaders must be trained by means of regular movement meetings, courses, and distribution of flyers by the movement. Field leaders and movement activists must be continuously taught about the heritage of the armed Palestinian struggle; and ceremonies must be held to celebrate battles and commemorate the history of the struggle, with constant readiness for sacrifice..."

Terms for Negotiation

"Continuing negotiations without achieving real progress within a specific time [frame] constitutes a threat to our rights, and will become a futile [activity] that Israel can exploit as a cover for continuing [the building of] settlements and deepening the occupation. In order for the negotiations not to become pointless, we must verify that the PLO will be committed to the following rules when the time comes for negotiating:

  • "A link must be created between the negotiations and actual progress on the ground, [to be measured by] clear signs, the most important of which is insistence on a complete halt to the settlements, particularly in Jerusalem, and also a complete halt to changes in the characteristics of Jerusalem, and to its Judaization. These are two conditions that must be met, and if they are not, negotiations must not be renewed. Likewise, it must be verified that (Israel) stops the incursions [into PA territory], the arrests, and the assassinations; that it lifts the siege from our people in Gaza and the roadblocks in the West Bank; that it withdraws to the lines of September 28, 2000 as a first step towards [withdrawal to] the June 4, 1967 lines - [all this] as clear signs of progress on the ground and of creating a link between [this progress] and progress in the negotiations.
  • "Negotiations must be based on the main U.N. resolutions (181, 194, 242, and 338), and will be in the framework of the Arab peace initiative, as long as this leads to attainment of our strategic and interim goals.
  • "There must be a continuation of activity to convene a new international peace conference that will confirm our rights, and that will move in the direction of rapid negotiations leading to a peace agreement that actualizes our goals.
  • "There must be insistence on the setting of a clear and binding timetable and a deadline for [concluding] the negotiations.
  • "There must be opposition to postponing negotiations on Jerusalem and the refugee problem, or any other issue of the final settlement.
  • "There must be opposition to the idea of a state with temporary borders.
  • "There must be absolute opposition, from which there will be no withdrawal, to recognizing Israel as a 'Jewish state,' in order to protect the refugees' rights and the rights of our people on the other side of the Green Line [i.e. Israeli Arabs].
  • "There must be insistence on involving international elements in the negotiations, and on an arbitration mechanism for [resolving] disputes that may arise over the implementation of the agreements in a way that will be binding for both sides.
  • "There must be insistence on international oversight and on a mechanism for international peacekeeping in order to ensure implementation of the agreements.
  • "Success in obtaining our goals by means of negotiations requires the establishment of a professional national committee that is capable of conducting negotiations. Such a committee will continue to be subordinate to the PLO, and will be overseen by a supreme committee, which will include Palestinian factions and individuals. [There will also be] an additional [Fatah] movement committee, to monitor the negotiations and to submit a report to [Fatah's] central committee and revolutionary council.
  • "A referendum must be held to approve the peace agreement that will be obtained via the negotiations over the final settlement...
  • "There must be intensive activity to free the prisoners. We will not sign a final agreement unless this is done...
  • "Efforts must be made to implement the right of return and restitution for refugees, and they are entitled to have their property restored. Likewise, the refugee problem should [be handled] uniformly, with no differentiation based on the refugees' location - including the refugees in the 1948 territories. Likewise, Fatah considers it essential to preserve the refugee camps until the [refugee] problem is resolved, so that they will serve as fundamental political evidence for the refugees who have been deprived of the right to return to their homes. It is essential that UNRWA be retained as the international address and that [the existence of] the refugee problem be recognized until they return to their homes and their cities. At the same time, it is necessary to act to improve the situation of the refugees and of the refugee camps, and to stress that the PLO is the source of political authority of the Palestinian refugees...
  • "There must be an emphasis on opposition to the idea of forced resettlement of the Palestinian refugees or to a call for an alternative homeland. There will be no resettlement in Lebanon nor an alternative homeland in Jordan..."
  • "Fatah opposes the call to declare Israel a Jewish state, and it adopts the demand of our people in the 1948 territories [i.e. the Israeli Arabs] that Israel recognize them as citizens with full rights."

No Peace without Jerusalem as the Capital of the PalestinianState

"There will be no peace if Jerusalem is not restored as the eternal capital of the Palestinian state. Fatah considers all Israeli decisions to annex Jerusalem, to build settlements in it, to expel its residents, and to change its characteristics to be null and void, and the results [of such decisions] must be removed. There must be action to implement U.N. resolutions condemning all attempts to Judaize Jerusalem, which is an integral part of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, and therefore Fatah adheres to the following:

"The realization of [the vision of] holy Jerusalem as the eternal spiritual capital of Palestine, of the Arab homeland, and of the Muslim and Christian world... Jerusalem must be provided with all types of support in order to defend it and resist its Judaization, the construction of settlements in it, and its isolation from the rest of the Palestinian territories..." [6]

Fatah Sets Five Contingency Options in Case Dialogue with Hamas Fails

"The continuation of the state of schism between the two parts of the homeland threatens the future of the national cause of the Palestinian people, and Hamas will bear the responsibility for the continuation of this schism. We must move ahead in order to succeed in the general national dialogue, headed by the dialogue with Hamas [aimed at] ending the schism in Gaza and establishing a national unity government that will hold simultaneous elections for the presidency and for the Legislative Council. [The dialogue is also aimed at] unifying the security apparatuses so that they will protect the security of the homeland and the people, dealing with the results of the coup and the schism, achieving national reconciliation, and freeing all the prisoners. Failure of the dialogue due to Hamas obstinacy will not change its [top]-priority [status], and will not detract from our determination to continue the dialogue. However, it will oblige Fatah to adopt alternatives:

  • "Rebuilding the Fatah movement in Gaza in accordance with the requirements of the existing situation, and giving full help to our organization [the Tanzim] so that they will be able to deal with the [current] schism.
  • "Directing the movement's energy to reinforcing the popular activity and motivating the Palestinian people to deal with the schism and the dictatorship.
  • "Denouncing acts by Hamas that deviate from [our] norms and from the Palestinian leaders' traditional [ways], and [denouncing] the crimes that it is carrying out towards the Palestinian people.
  • "Demanding Arab security assistance for the interim.
  • "Reinforcing media activity in the Arab and Islamic street, to expose the truth about Hamas's policy and deeds."

'Abbas' Speech

In his speech opening the Fatah conference, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud 'Abbas said: "The popular resistance being carried out by our people against the settlements, the separation fence, and the destruction and expropriation of homes is an example of our people's ability to devise various forms of struggle that can penetrate the conscience of the world and mobilize the support of the peoples.

"I salute and express my esteem for our people in Jerusalem, in Bil'in, in Ni'lin, in Ma'sra, and in all the places where defenseless demonstrators armed only with hope, determination, and belief in victory [hold] demonstrations that express their opposition to the deeds of the occupation...

"While we stress that we espouse the option of peace and negotiations based on the U.N. resolutions, we retain our fundamental right to legitimate resistance guaranteed by international law. This right is also linked to our perception and to the national consensus, which is what must determine the appropriate forms of the struggle and the proper timing for [each] - while learning lessons from the past and making sure that we are not dragged into places where the steadfastness of our people and our adherence to our moral superiority and to the principles of our struggle might be harmed." [7]

* C. Jacob is a Research Fellow at MEMRI

Endnotes:

[1] www.fatehconf.ps , August 13, 2009.

[2] www.fatehconf.ps , August 13, 2009.

[3] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), August 20, 2009. In an interview aired on Al-Jazeera after the conference, on August 17, 2009, Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub said: "The Fatah Convention made a unanimous decision to adhere to the notions, methods, and original principles, which were approved by the Fatah movement on January 1, 1965." See MEMRI-TV Clip:

http://www.memri.org/legacy/clip/2209.

[4] www.fatehmedia.ps ; www.alkofianews.maktoobblog.com ; www.palvoice.com.

[5] Fatah political bureau chairman Nabil Sha'th declared at the conference that the plan sets out the forms and methods of the struggle, and that it stresses the Palestinian people's right to armed struggle as guaranteed by international law, and also diverse types of struggle devised during the Intifada of the Stones (1987-1991), including methods of struggle such as those used in Bil'in and Nil'in, and various types of political and diplomatic struggle and negotiations. Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), August 10, 2009.

[6] www.fatehconf.ps , August 13, 2009.

[7] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), August 5, 2009.