The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is the political agency of the Palestinians’ national liberation movement; it represents Palestinians wherever they reside. The PLO last defined its goals as freedom and independence — freedom from Israeli military occupation and oppression and for the right of Palestinian refugees to return home, and independence in a free and sovereign state of Palestine. This sole, internationally recognized representative of the Palestinian people is currently under serious threat by none other than its own leadership.
PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and his predecessor Yasser Arafat, both systematically led this once-vibrant organization toward a situation of total calcification, culminating in the complete paralysis of Palestinian political life. The climax of this process was the PLO’s signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords with Israel. It is as if the goal of the powers that be, including Arafat and Abbas, was to use the PLO to enter negotiations and then immediately bury the PLO in their desk drawer, removing it thereafter only insofar as required to retain hegemonic control of power while unilaterally eroding any collective Palestinian political capacity.
One such significant use of the PLO was when the Palestinian National Council hastily convened a meeting in Gaza on December 14, 1998, attended by U.S. President Bill Clinton, and approved cancellation of articles 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, and 30 of the 1968 Palestinian National Charter that stipulated the elimination of the State of Israel and amended articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 11, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 25, 26, 27, and 29 to comply with the Wye River Memorandum. No better example than this exists to reflect the loss of independent Palestinian decision-making.
Today, any Palestinian political grouping desiring to formally join the PLO has no user’s manual and no path forward. The criteria and process to become a member of the PLO’s legislative body are unknown, and the criteria and process…