The Palestinian prisoners’ document
In late May, a document drawn up by
Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails became the subject of fierce controversy
between President Mahmoud Abbas
and the Hamas government. This document, dated
It was drawn up with the intention of establishing a common position between the factions, to form the platform for a government of national unity (which Hamas proposed after it won the elections in January 2006, but Fatah rejected). Thus, point 6 of the document states the aim:
“To work on forming a national unity government that secures the participation of parliamentary blocs and political forces interested in participating on the basis of this document and the joint program …”
For this reason, the document was called the National Conciliation Document of the Palestinian prisoners.
(The original document is available here , together with the amended version of it that was agreed by Fatah and Hamas in late June. The amendments, which are highlighted, are small but significant.)
Reporting grossly misleading
Most of the British media’s reporting
about the document has been grossly misleading.
It has been widely reported as supporting a two-state solution, recognising Israel and calling for an end to military
action against Israel, in other words, broadly speaking, it was a Fatah document that Hamas would
have difficulty supporting. For example,
the BBC website story dated
“It sets out formal
Palestinian claims to an independent state on land occupied by
In reality, there is no mention in the document (in either its original or its final form) of “a two-state solution”, or of “the recognition of Israel”, or of “an end to attacks against Israel”, and the person who wrote the BBC story was either deliberately lying or s/he hadn’t read the document, which was readily available on websites at the time.
Insofar as there is any mention of a Palestinian state in the document, it is in point 1, which says (in the original):
“The Palestinian people in the homeland and in the Diaspora seek to liberate their land and to achieve their right in freedom, return and independence and to exercise their right in self determination, including the right to establish their independent state with al-Quds al-Shareef [Jerusalem] as its capital on all territories occupied in 1967 and to secure the right of return for the refugees and to liberate all prisoners and detainees based on the historical right of our people on the land of the fathers and grandfathers and based on the UN Charter and the international law and international legitimacy.”
But, this doesn’t limit the proposed
independent Palestinian state to the land captured by
Furthermore, the assertion of “the
right of return for the refugees” is incompatible with
As for the document calling “for an
end to attacks against
“The right of the Palestinian people to resist and to uphold the option of resistance of occupation by various means and focusing resistance in territories occupied in 1967 in tandem with political action, negotiations and diplomacy whereby there is broad participation from all sectors in the popular resistance.”
This does talk about concentrating
resistance in the territories captured by
When an agreement was eventually reached
between Fatah and Hamas in
late June on a slightly amended version of the document, it was generally
“Hamas has, up until now, always rejected any recognition of
“It is not yet clear what movement Hamas may have made on this crucial issue, our correspondent says.
“When the agreement is made public, the wording and the details will need to be scrutinised to see if there has been any really significant shift in Hamas’ position, our correspondent says.
writing in The Guardian, entertained
no such doubts. In an article on
the pretence of one day conquering
McGreal’s report also quoted Abdullah Abdullah, a Fatah MP and “chairman of the parliamentary political committee”, as saying that “the agreement was necessary not only to end sanctions but to prevent Israel from unilaterally redrawing its borders to annex the big Jewish settlement blocks on the grounds that there was no partner for negotiations”. He went on:
about to surrender our rights but we want to form a front to stop the policies
of the Israeli government to impose a policy that is not a solution. The Hamas
government was an excuse for
For five years prior to Hamas being elected, when Fatah
held the presidency and controlled the legislature – and was unequivocal about
its recognition of
It is equally difficult to believe
that any Fatah MP is naďve enough to believe that, in
the unlikely event of Israel agreeing to negotiate with Palestinians, it is
going to sign up to a final settlement that does not annex the big Jewish settlement blocks, when the US has given
its blessing to their annexation. Are Fatah MPs not familiar with President Bush’s letter to
Prime Minister Sharon on
“In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.”
The letter also ruled out a right of return for Palestinian refugees to the expanded Israeli state.
It is a triumph of hope over
experience that Fatah apparently still believes that
One doesn’t have to read the original prisoners’ document very carefully to realise that it expresses a position that is closer to Hamas than Fatah. And the amended version that was finally agreed is marginally closer still.
It is no surprise that the Israeli
government has noticed this and declared that the document doesn’t measure up
to the conditions for negotiation in the Roadmap. This is set out in The Palestinian “Prisoners’ Document”: Stepping
away from peace (dated
announcement by representatives of Hamas and Fatah that agreement had been reached on this document has
been perceived by some as being ‘a step in the right direction’ in terms of
efforts to achieve peace between the Palestinians and
document fails to meet the requirements of the Roadmap and the three basic
conditions of the Quartet: recognition of
supporting the establishment of a Palestinian state within all the territories
‘occupied since 1967’ does not mean recognition of
• The document makes no mention of
• The document further insists on full
implementation of the Palestinian demands regarding the ‘right of return’ of
all Palestinian refugees to their homes [inside
• The formula used by the document goes
hand-in-hand with the Hamas declarations that after a
full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories ‘occupied since 1967’, Hamas would be prepared at
most for a lengthy ceasefire, but not for recognition of
“The document expresses a clear-cut support for continued terrorism.
• Not only does it not talk about ending terrorism, but it stresses the ‘right of resistance by all means’.
• The document talks about ‘concentrating’
such ‘resistance’ within the territories. In other words, while the majority of
terrorist attacks would take place within the
“If the intention of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah faction was to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas, this document does the opposite.
• It distances itself from Abbas’ position regarding recognition of Israel, an end to terrorism and adherence to existing Palestinian Authority Agreements with Israel, by in effect adopting the Hamas line on these issues.”
This is an objective analysis of the prisoners’ document by the Israeli government. It has yet to be mentioned by either the BBC or The Guardian.
A major plank in Ehud
Olmert’s election platform last March was “disengagement”
from parts of the West Bank (and annexation of the rest), following on from the
“disengagement” from Gaza initiated by Ariel Sharon in August 2005. Whether further “disengagement” has been
compromised by Israeli ground troops re-entering
The term “disengagement” was a clever
piece of spin by Ariel Sharon, which earned him the mantle of peacemaker in the
West in the final year of his active life.
It gave the impression to the world that
If a similar “disengagement” takes
place on the
It is plain as a pikestaff that
Labour & Trade Union Review
 Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website www.mfa.gov.il