May 3, 1999 Special Dispatch No. 31

Palestinians Reveal Long-Term Plans

May 3, 1999
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 31

Since the signing of the Wye Agreement, the Palestinian leadership has attempted to strengthen UN General Assembly Resolution 181 – the 1947 Partition Resolution. Over the last five months, Resolution 181 has been transformed from a marginal demand that was only discussed in local forums in the Palestinian Authority's areas, to the centerpiece of Palestinian diplomacy in the UN and around the world.

MEMRI, the first to report this change,[1] revealed the PA's operative plan that aims at implementing the 1947 Partition Resolution. The plan was presented earlier this week in a Gaza press conference, by the PA Minister of International Cooperation and member of the Palestinian negotiating team, Nabil Sha'ath.

According to Sha'ath, in his meetings throughout the globe, Arafat reemphasizes that the Palestinians base their claim for independence on the 1947 Partition Resolution: "in his tour through most of the world's countries, the president spoke of the right to a Palestinian state, a right that is based on Resolution 181 of 1947 and not on the resolution of the Madrid Conference and the Oslo Accords.…"[2]

Sha'ath revealed that according to the PA's diplomatic plan, the PA will attempt to replace the Oslo Accords, which will expire on May 4, 1999 and are based on the UN Security Council Resolution 242, with General Assembly Resolution 181. By doing so, the bilateral framework for the negotiations will be replaced by a UN multilateral framework, which the PLO prefers.

The PLO aims to apply the 'Model of Namibia'- a model frequently alluded to by Arafat in the past - within the borders of the 1947 Partition Resolution. In accordance with this model, all the territories Israel occupied beyond these borders since 1947, including East and West Jerusalem, will be temporarily transferred to the UN. Then, the UN will determine their final status through a referendum among the Palestinian people. "An international action will be taken in the UN Trusteeship Council,"[3] says Sha'ath, "to implement the UN General Assembly resolutions, including Resolution 181 which has been1 reconfirmed yearly in the UN, with US consent between 1947 and 1974, when the PLO was accepted for the first time as the representative of the Palestinian people."[4]

"If Resolution 181 is applied," Sha'ath added, "all Palestinian land Israel occupies beyond the Partition Resolution borders will be transferred to the UN, including Jerusalem in its entirety, both East and West. The UN will then act, as it did in Namibia, and hold a referendum among the Palestinian people regarding this land." On another occasion, Sha'ath stated that South Africa expressed its willingness to help the PLO with legal advice in order to help it enact the "Namibia model."[5]

Sha'ath rejected the argument of a reporter from the Palestinian daily Al-Quds that Resolution 181 is dangerous for the Palestinians because it decrees the internationalization of Jerusalem: "we have no interest at this moment in undermining the legitimacy of Resolution 181."[6] Sha'ath said that the Palestinians aspire to conduct the negotiations over these lands with the UN and not with Israel. Therefore, the Palestinian leadership accepts the internationalization of Jerusalem as a temporary act until it is transferred to the Palestinians: "It is essential [first of all] to release Jerusalem from the Israeli claws... If we conduct the negotiations over the final settlement with the UN rather than Israel, it will significantly help us reach a solution that is not imposed by the Israeli occupation."[7]

[1] MEMRI’s previous publications examining the PLO's focus on the Partition Resolution of 1947 include:

[2] Al-Ayyam, April 23, 1999. Arafat himself made this statement in a press conference in Moscow on April 6, 1999.

[3] A United Nation’s body that carried out the transfer of sovereignty in Namibia.

[4] Al-Ayyam, April 23, 1999.

[5] Voice of Palestine, April 17, 1999 from the BBC summary of world broadcasts.

[6] Al-Quds, April 23, 1999.

[7] Al-Quds, April 23, 1999.

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