The leading Arab-language newspaper in Israel published Friday what it said was a Palestinian declaration of independence that calls for a Palestinian state based on a 1947 U.N. plan.
The declaration, expressed “in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 181,” which called for separate Jewish and Arab states, implies Palestinian recognition of the state of Israel, something that many Arabs have long resisted.
Resolution 181, adopted when Palestine was governed by Britain under a mandate from the old League of Nations, set out a plan for partition after Britain failed to produce a solution acceptable to Arabs and Jews. The partition plan was rejected by the Arabs, and the first Arab-Jewish war led to Israel’s independence in 1948.
The newspaper Al Fajr said the declaration would be presented to the Palestine National Council, the deliberative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization, when it meets Nov. 12 in Algiers.
May Be Altered
Al Fajr editor Hanna Siniora said the document may be altered at the PNC meeting. But he said the copy that was published Friday is “very close to one that will be presented,” and added, “The declaration that will come out is another matter.”
PLO sources cautioned that other drafts could appear before the Algiers meeting.
“This is not the final draft,” Ahmed Abdul-Rahman, a spokesman at PLO headquarters in Tunis, Tunisia, told a reporter. “The declaration is still in the kitchen. We are working day and night to finalize the text.”
For months, a so-called working paper on a Palestinian declaration of independence has been circulated among Palestinian political leaders in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, where for almost a year Palestinians have clashed with Israeli forces on an almost daily basis to protest the Israeli occupation. The document that was published Friday appeared to contain the essential points set out in the working paper.
Four Points Made
It consists of the following four paragraphs:
“1. We the Palestinian people represented by the PNC announce the declaration of the Palestinian State on the soil of Palestine and with Jerusalem as its capital, all according to the inherent rights of Palestinians to live in their homeland in accordance with United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, published in 1947.
“2. The Palestine Liberation Organization is the sole representative for the Palestinian people in accordance with the decisions of all Arab and Islamic summits, especially the Fez summit (in 1982, in Morocco).
“3. The PLO calls on Arab and European (Western) heads of state, first among them the two superpowers, to work hard toward implementing all U.N. resolutions connected to the Palestinian problem and also the Geneva agreement (on human rights).
“4. The PNC, in announcing the declaration of the independence of the Palestinian state, insists the only path to solve the problem is the one of implementing all international resolutions through an active international conference with the participation of the PLO.”
All the major Israeli political parties and most of the minor parties reject the idea of an independent Palestinian state. Israelis of virtually every political stripe consider Jerusalem to be their indivisible capital.
By calling for the implementation of all pertinent U.N. resolutions, the declaration is certain to encounter Israeli opposition. For example, U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, adopted Nov. 22, 1967, calls for the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied” in the Arab-Israeli War of 1967. One of those territories is the West Bank of the Jordan River, which many Israelis term part of biblical Israel and thus not subject to negotiation.
Security Council Resolution 338, adopted on Oct. 22, 1973, in the heat of another Arab-Israeli war, calls on the warring parties “to start immediately after the cease-fire the implementation of Security Council 242 in all of its parts.”
The Arab document’s insistence on an “international conference with the participation of the PLO” is also sure to raise new Israeli objections. The government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir has repeatedly rejected proposals for such a conference, including a plan put forth by Washington that envisioned an international conference that would have been followed by direct negotiations between Israel and a Jordanian-Palestinian delegation.
The Al Fajr document also raises a number of questions that could strain the fragile unity of the PLO. First of all, many PLO factions and their constituencies reject even tacit recognition of Israel.
Further, no mention is made of the fate of Palestinians living outside the borders of what is now Israel, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Many of these are refugees who fled Israel in wartime and would like to return.
Shamir and his rightist Likud Party, now in the process of organizing a new coalition government following their victory in Tuesday’s elections, have made it clear in the past few days that they have no intention of taking part in an international conference such as the Palestinian document calls for.
Shamir’s chief rivals in the election, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and the center-left Labor Party, have said more than once that they were willing to attend such a conference and to talk with Palestinians, although not with the PLO, which Israel considers a terrorist organization.
According to final official results made public Friday, the Likud Party will have 40 of the 120 seats in the new Knesset, Israel’s legislative assembly, compared to 39 for Labor. In tallying the last votes Friday, each party picked up one vote over its earlier total, at the expense of a small Arab party.
Some Israeli observers have suggested that Likud and Labor might join forces and renew the so-called national unity coalition government that has served since the indecisive elections of 1984. But Peres said Friday that he would not rejoin such a coalition unless his plan for peace is accepted by Likud.
“Our obligation, and my obligation, is to check if there is this possibility to continue the peace process,” Peres said. “We are not going to sell anything or buy anything.”
Neighboring Arab countries were taken aback by the Likud victory. Jordan’s King Hussein had endorsed Peres, and Egypt had been known to favor Labor over Likud.
In Cairo on Friday, the semi-official newspaper Al Ahram tried to dispel fears that Likud will be opposed to peace talks.
“It is true that initial indications of the results of Israeli elections help generate a feeling of frustration,” the paper said in an editorial. “But it is too early to judge the real significance of the results.”
Times staff writer Michael Ross contributed to this article from Cairo.