President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday hailed the creation of the Palestine Liberation Organization as the most significant event in Palestinian people's history.
"(Ahmad) Shuqeiri was asked to figure out what the Palestinians wanted, and he returned with the convention for the PLO," Abbas said at a meeting to mark the 49th anniversary of the PLO's founding.
"We should remind ourselves that this is the most important and significant event in the history of the Palestinian people," the president added.
However, this anniversary gives us the opportunity to revisit the original PLO charter, which stated:
Article 24: This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or in the Himmah Area.
Curiously, the words "state" and "independence" are also missing from the charter in relationship with its goals. So is any mention of an ancient and historic Palestinian Arab people.
If the original goal of the PLO was not to create a state, not to be independent, and not even to re-establish an ancient homeland, then what was its raison d'être?
The answer can be seen in Article 18:
Article 18:...The claims of historic and spiritual ties between Jews and Palestine are not in agreement with the facts of history or with the true basis of sound statehood. Judaism, because it is a divine religion, is not a nationality with independent existence.
In other words, the founding principle of the PLO was not nationhood, it was not independence, it was not an appeal to historic ties of a "people" to the land.
It was simple antisemitism.
And the mindset that created that document has not changed one bit since then.
Also note Article 2 of this first version. It says "with its boundaries at the time of the British mandate." This means that it had no boundaries in Arab/Muslim tradition but had to rely on the mandatory boundaries. That is, the boundaries of the Jewish National Home. I think that this formula is repeated in the later version of the PLO charter from --I believe-- 1968 [see WZ Laqueur & B Rubin]. Bernard Lewis wrote an article for Commentary circa 1974-75 in which he explained what this formula means: that there was no Arab/Muslim tradition of a separate country called "palestine" or "filastin." And therefore there was no tradition among the Arabs of a "palestinian people."