Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas threatened last week that his government would withdraw from all treaties and agreements signed with the State of Israel. This would include the 1993 Oslo Accords and all subsequent agreements regarding day-to-day security in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”). This is the emptiest of the P.A.’s numerous threats; they have never honored their pacts with Israel.
They even failed to revise their basic constitutional document, the Palestinian National Covenant. They accepted a treaty obligation years ago in Oslo to repeal sections of this viciously anti-Semitic, terror-supporting document which calls for the total destruction of Israel.
Abbas has made pact-nullification pledges many times before and always failed to keep his word, largely because the P.A. desperately depends on Israel’s support to stay in power.
Nonetheless, some in the global diplomatic community reacted with horror at this prospect. (Of course, this segment invariably blamed the “outrageous behavior” of U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the tragic turn of events.)
Another part of the diplomatic corps shrugged it off as more bluster from the P.A. leadership.
Finally, many wondered how the P.A.’s real-world actions would change in any way after its withdrawal from the agreements it has signed, whose provisions it has never honored or observed anyway.
The P.A. has seemed, since Oslo, to view all agreements with Israel as fundamentally optional, except when Israel’s obligations are in question. The most glaring examples: Yasser Arafat’s orchestration of the Second Intifada in 2000, and the continuance of the hateful classroom indoctrination of Palestinian youth in blatant violation of the Oslo Accords, which Arafat signed.
But the Palestinian disdain for the entire “peace process” is even more foundational than these egregious behaviors that violate the letter and spirit of the agreements.
In 1964, three years before the Six-Day War and Israel’s retaking control of the West Bank, the founders of the Palestine Liberation Organization ratified the Palestinian National Covenant as a constitution. Note that this original document disavowed any interest at all in “liberating” the West Bank, seized by Jordan in 1949, or the Gaza Strip, which was occupied by Egypt.
It thus made it explicit that the only so-called Palestine to be liberated was the State of Israel.
In 1968, though, after the Six-Day War, the PLO utterly redefined its goals in a formal revision of its national covenant. Now, it wanted to liberate all territory that had been part of the British Mandate, which would include all of Israel, Gaza, and Judea and Samaria.
With the Oslo negotiations a quarter-century later, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin noted that the Palestinian National Covenant still contained blood-curdling objectives and plans of the PLO, and was set to become the governing charter of the proposed P.A. government.
In Aug. 1993, Rabin insisted that a commitment be made by Arafat in the Oslo agreement to quickly convene a meeting of the Palestine National Council to revoke or rewrite the numerous offending sections of the national covenant—a prerogative exclusively in the hands of that council, as is spelled out in the covenant itself.
This amendment was never implemented, and the full force and content of the 1968 Palestinian National Covenant remains the fundamental law of the P.A.
Arafat periodically claimed the clauses were null and void, but this is analogous to a U.S. president saying the same thing about our Constitution: It is an utterly empty statement of no legal validity whatever.
How bad is the 1968 Palestine National Covenant? Here are a few excerpts that make any peace process impossible.
The marching orders for Palestinian textbook writers are clear:
Article 7: “It is a national duty to bring up individual Palestinians in an Arab revolutionary manner. All means of information and education must be adopted in order to acquaint the Palestinian with his country in the most profound manner, both spiritual and material, that is possible. He must be prepared for the armed struggle and ready to sacrifice his wealth and his life in order to win back his homeland and bring about its liberation.”
The basic strategy of the P.A. is “armed struggle”:
Article 9: “Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. This is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. The Palestinian Arab people assert their absolute determination and firm resolution to continue their armed struggle and to work for an armed popular revolution for the liberation of their country and their return to it.”
Terrorism is justified as “defensive action”:
Article 18: “The liberation of Palestine, from an international point of view, is a defensive action necessitated by the demands of self-defense.”
The State of Israel has no right to exist:
Article 19: “The partition of Palestine in 1947, and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time.”
Established history is false, and Jewish nationality does not even exist:
Article 20: “The Balfour Declaration, the Palestine Mandate, and everything that has been based on them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of their own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.”
Zionism is about as evil as it can get:
Article 22: “Zionism is a political movement organically associated with international imperialism … It is racist and fanatic in its nature, aggressive, expansionist and colonial in its aims, and fascist in its methods.”
It is clear from all this—and from the P.A.’s conduct over the years—that it is conforming fully to its national covenant, and that any subordinate treaties and agreements have no validity. So, Abbas formally withdrawing from those pacts changes nothing in the Middle East, except perhaps to add a note of realism.
Ken Cohen is editor of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.