Ma'an News Agency
November 11, 2009 - 1:00am

The Palestinian National Council proclaimed the establishment of a Palestinian state during a meeting in Algiers on 15 November 1988.

Like the declaration of a Palestinian state in Gaza in 1948 amidst the war with the nascent Israeli state, the 1988 declaration has little practical meaning today. For whatever reason, recent media speculation has raised the notion that Palestinian leaders could make another such declaration in the current political climate.

As the anniversary of the 1988 proclamation approaches, however, the idea of making such a pronouncement again remains a controversial idea among Palestinian political leaders.

Officials from several political factions debated prospects for a new declaration in a program on Ramallah’s Amwaj radio station on Tuesday morning.

“The Palestinian people’s right to self determination has been recognized by UN resolutions, yet there are certain things that are required to guarantee the protection and sovereignty of a Palestinian state if it is announced. We don’t need to bounce into the air and become dependent on the occupation’s mercy,” Fatah lawmaker Abdullah Abdullah said on the program.

The official noted that the PNC’s 1988 declaration never materialized into a state. “In order to materialize a unilateral Palestinian state, we need a two-track approach; to build the state’s institutions and administrative bodies and to ask the UN for permission to exercise our right in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions 1397, and 2515 related to the Road Map plan.”

Kayid Al-Ghoul, member of the politburo of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said that the international community should become aware of the fact that an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders could be announced unilaterally and therefore materialized.

He pointed out that a Palestinian state was thought to be the natural outcome of the Oslo Accords, but this never happened. “If a Palestinian state is unilaterally announced, Israel must be treated as an occupier, and the international community should stand in the face of Israel,” Al-Ghoul said.

Al-Ghoul said any such declaration would need international backing and enforcement in order to have any meaning. In addition, the announcement would have to come from a united Palestinian front.

“The announcement should be based on a united Palestinian decision, and thus there must be serious dialogue before that announcement in order to end rivalry between the Palestinians. Furthermore, there should be contacts with Arab and foreign countries to urge them to help provide the needed atmosphere and requirements. This announcement is more like a political battle against occupation,” Al-Goul explained.

For his part, a senior leader in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Saleh Zeidan said a declaration should be made in an appropriate atmosphere to avoid the possibility of a state with interim borders. The current situation, he said, is different from the situation in 1999. The atmosphere then was much more suitable for announcement of a Palestinian state. We need a comprehensive political review, and the current situation is not appropriate for that.

Palestinian People’s Party (PPP) Secretary-General Bassam As-Salihi said his party had proposed long ago a strategy based on unilaterally declaring an independent sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. He called for the establishment of a constituent assembly for the Palestinian state from members of the PLO’s Central Council, and the Palestinian Legislative Council. This should be the main Palestinian strategy as negotiations with Israel have failed, he said.

The Palestinian National Initiative is supportive of the idea of a unilateral declaration, as long as it is differentiated from Israeli proposals for a Palestinian state with “temporary borders” on about 40% of the West Bank, according to the party’s leader Mustafa Al-Barghouthi. He also said Palestinians should be wary of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal for economic peace as alternative to real peace.


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