The results of recent talks between Palestinian organizations in Egypt constitute the beginning of the fifth stage in the history of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).
The outstanding feature of this new stage is the participation of all Palestinian forces (including organizations that make up the PLO) in the formation of a common political program and in choosing a united leadership that represents the people in their hopes for achieving their just demands.
Over the course of 40 years the PLO went through four stages:
The first one began in 1964, when personalities of influence and political weight in the Palestinian and Arab world announced the creation of the PLO as an entity.
The second was in 1968, with the push for Palestinian organizations to come together under the PLO umbrella so as to unite political decision-making with the gun.
The third stage in the history of the PLO began in 1974 with the adoption of the transitional program as the solution to the Palestinian problem; this program was proposed by the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (FDLP). In that period, for the first time Palestinians acquired a political program of struggle, instead of general slogans.
The program spoke of the right of the Palestinians to self-determination, the creation of an independent state inside territories occupied in June 1967, and the solution of the problem of refugees by means of a political arrangement which would bring peace and security to the peoples of Palestine and Israel.
The fourth stage began in 1987, after the bloody confrontation between the different wings of the Fatah movement due to their alignment with different Arab axes.
That situation prompted Palestinian organizations to work toward adopting a program of national unity that had as its basis the participation of the Central Committee of Fatah, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Palestinian People's Party.
The new stage that began with the results of the Palestinian-Palestinian conference—the fruit of four years of internal dialogue—placed the PLO (in its fifth stage) in an extremely complex situation. In itself, the conference was of great importance in the life of struggle of the Palestinian people.
Various organizations and the National Palestinian Authority (NPA) met in Cairo this past March 17 to discuss a number of topics vital to the destiny of the people.
Through those talks the Palestinians realized great success, because for the first time since the 1993 Oslo Agreement, they reached a consensus to work within a united political framework on the basis of:
• the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital
• the right of refugees to return to their native land
• the defense of the right of people to resistance while the Zionist occupation continues
As another positive point in the talks, the declaration references a truce or “calm” which is linked to a number of commitments that Israel must complete and that it will cease if the Zionist government continues to violate its noted obligations.
The talks concluded with three recommendations which constitute the beginning of the reconstruction of the PLO on democratic foundations and wide participation. Such reconstruction must keep in mind the particularities of the moment in which Palestinian cause lives, as a stage of the liberation movement.
The first recommendation is to decree a law modifying the laws of legislative elections so those elections are carried out on the basis of the equality (50 percent by proportional representation and 50 percent by an individual system).
The second recommendation is to decree a law of modifying local election laws to carry out them on a representative base, something that would take place for the first time in the history of Palestine.
The third recommendation agreed upon in the Cairo talks is the creation of a committee formed by the Presidency of the National Council, the Executive Committee and the leaders of organizations, in addition to national figures.
That committee will have as its objective the moving forward of final preparations in the reconstruction of the National Council over the course of the current year – something which opens the door to all Palestinian organizations being able to join the PLO and, in that way, participating in political decision-making through their participation in the creation of a common program.