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Palestine National Charter (1968)


amended version of the palestine national covenant with greater emphasis on armed struggle against israel.

The fourth Palestine National Council meeting (Cairo, July 1968) amended the 1964 Palestine National Covenant to produce the Palestine National Charter (PNC). Following the Arab defeat of June 1967, the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) passed to the more action-oriented leaders of al-Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), and other commando groups. While these groups continued to strive in principle for the ideals of Arab nationalism, in practice their character and development became increasingly Palestinian. Their focus was on Palestinian nationalism and on armed struggle against Israel.

The 1968 charter incorporated new principles that were supposed to guide Palestinian political action after the 1967 defeat. The charter has thirty-three articles. Article 1 explicitly defines Palestine as the "homeland of the Palestinian Arab people," while Articles 3 and 9 in particular stress the principles of self-determination and Palestinian national sovereignty over Palestine. Reference to these principles is made eight times. Moreover, the concepts of self-determination and sovereignty are defined in explicit Palestinian terms. Although the ethno-cultural links of the Palestinians to the larger Arab homeland are emphasized, they do not predominate over the territorial connection between the Palestinians and their homeland Palestine.

The 1968 charter radicalized the instruments of political action to be employed for the liberation of Palestine. Armed struggle is posited as the "sole road" to liberation (Article 9), and the concept recurs thirteen times in an emphatic, declaratory tone. Armed struggle, however, does not exclude conventional warfare as Article 10 suggests, since the Arab countries are considered partners in the battle for liberation. In this formula, the role of commando action was given primacy and regarded as the "nucleus of the Palestinian popular liberation war" (Article 10).

The principles of the charter were superseded by subsequent Palestine National Council decisions. Above all, they were superseded by the Declaration of Principles concluded between Israel and the PLO in September 1993. The PNC voted in April 1996 to cancel the portions of the charter calling for the destruction of the State of Israel and to draft a new charter within six months.

see also fatah, al-; palestine liberation organization (plo); palestine national council; palestine national covenant (1964); popular front for the liberation of palestine.


Brand, Laurie A. Palestinians in the Arab World: Institution Building and the Search for State. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988.

Gresh, Alain. The PLO, the Struggle Within: Towards an Independent Palestinian State. London: Zed, 1985.

muhammad muslih

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