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Diplomatic and Consular Law

Blaga Ioana Iulia, SD II

Palestinian Diplomacy
The subject of this paper consists of an analysis of how a controversial state is
performing diplomatic acts, what is its status in the world, according to Consular and
Diplomatic Law. Also, what institutions deal with the diplomacy of Palestine and how those
perform.

International recognition of the State of Palestine

The Palestinian statehood has been a problematic issue for the entire world since the
Palestine State became a de jure state with an independence declared by the Palestine
Liberation Organization (PLO) on 15th November 1988 and with a government-in-exile in
Algiers, Algeria. Claiming sovereignty over the Palestinian territories with a designated
capital at Jerusalem, most of these areas are administrated by Israel since 1967, when the Six
Day War occurred, but one of the aftermaths of the war is the socio-political administration
exercised by Palestinian Authority beginning from 1993 in limited territories. Since 27th
September 2013, only 134 of the 193 member states of the United Nations have recognized
the State of Palestine1.
On 22 November 1974, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3236
recognised the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national independence
and sovereignty in Palestine. It also recognised the PLO as the sole legitimate representative
of the Palestinian people, and accorded it observer status in the United Nations. The
designation Palestine for the PLO was adopted by the United Nations in 1988 in
acknowledgment of the Palestinian declaration of independence, but the proclaimed state still
has no formal status within the system.2
Shortly after the 1988 declaration, the State of Palestine was recognised by many
developing states in Africa and Asia, and from communist and non-aligned states.3 At the
time, however, the United States was using its Foreign Assistance Act and other measures to

Tessler, Mark (1994), A History of the IsraeliPalestinian conflict, Indiana University Press, p. 722.
Hillier, Tim, Sourcebook on public international law, Routledge, 1998, pp. 128- 218;
3
Q&A: Palestinian bid for full membership at the UN http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13701636 , BBC;
2

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discourage other countries and international organisations from extending recognition.4


Although these measures were successful in many cases,5 the Arab League and the
Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) immediately published statements of
recognition of6, support for7, and solidarity with Palestine, which was accepted as a member
state in both forums8.In February 1989 at the United Nations Security Council, the PLO
representative acknowledged that 94 states9 had recognised the new Palestinian state10.It
subsequently attempted to gain membership as a state in several agencies connected to the
United Nations, but its efforts were thwarted by U.S. threats to withhold funding from any
organisation that admitted Palestine.11
For example, in April of the same year, the PLO applied for membership as a state in
the World Health Organization, an application that failed to produce a result after the U.S.
informed the organisation that it would withdraw funding if Palestine were admitted.12 In
May, a group of OIC members submitted to UNESCO an application for membership on
behalf of Palestine, and listed a total of 91 states that had recognised the State of Palestine. In
June 1989, the PLO submitted to the government of Switzerland letters of accession to the
Geneva Conventions of 1949. However, Switzerland, as the depositary state, determined that
because the question of Palestinian statehood had not been settled within the international
community, it was therefore incapable of determining whether the letter constituted a valid
instrument of accession.
Due to the uncertainty within the international community as to the existence or the
non-existence of a State of Palestine and as long as the issue has not been settled in an
appropriate framework, the Swiss Government, in its capacity as depositary of the Geneva
Conventions and their additional Protocols, is not in a position to decide whether this
communication can be considered as an instrument of accession in the sense of the relevant

Sabasteanski, Anna, Patterns of global terrorism 19852005: U.S. Department of State reports with supplementary documents and
statistics, Berkshire. p. 47.
5
Charter of the League of Arab States (22 March 1945): Annex regarding Palestine; available at University of the Basque Country:
http://www.ehu.es/ceinik/tratados/1TRATADOSSOBREORGANIZACIONESINTERNACIONALES/16TratadosdeOrganizacionesInternac
ionalesRegionales/OI161.pdf
6
Organisation of the Islamic Conference (2830 May 2003) Resolutions on Palestine Affairs; The Thirtieth Session of the Islamic
Conference of Foreign Ministers (Session of Unity and Dignity; United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine
7
United Nations Security Council; United Nations Department of Political and Security Council Affairs, Repertoire of the practice of the
Security Council, United Nations Publications, 2008, p. 759.
8
Reut Institute (14 August 2004), Act of Recognition of Statehood Structure of the Political Process http://www.reutinstitute.org/en/Publication.aspx?PublicationId=373
9
Quigley, John, Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice. Duke University Press, 1990, p. 231.
10
Quigley, John. The Palestine Declaration to the International Criminal Court: The Statehood Issue http://www.lawrecord.com/files/35rutgers-l-rec-1.pdf, 2009 Rutgers Law Record p. 35
11
"Note of Information" (Press release), Government of Switzerland, 13 September 1989
12
Lewis, Paul "Arabs at U.N. Relax Stand on P.L.O." http://www.nytimes.com/1989/12/06/world/arabs-at-un-relax-stand-on-plo.html The
New York Times, 6 December 1989.

Diplomatic and Consular Law

Blaga Ioana Iulia, SD II

provisions of the Conventions and their additional Protocols.13 Consequently, in November


1989, the Arab League proposed a General Assembly resolution to formally recognise the
PLO as the government of an independent Palestinian state. The draft, however, was
abandoned when the U.S. again threatened to cut off its financing for the United Nations
should the vote go ahead. The Arab states agreed not to press the resolution, but demanded
that the U.S. promise not to threaten the United Nations with financial sanctions again.14
Many of the early statements of recognition of the State of Palestine were termed
ambiguously. 15 In addition, hesitation from others did not necessarily mean that these nations
did not regard Palestine as a state. This has seemingly resulted in confusion regarding the
number of states that have officially recognised the state declared in 1988. Numbers reported
in the past are often conflicting,16 with figures as high as 130 being seen frequently.
As of 30 October 2014, 135 (69.9%) of the 193 member states of the United Nations
and two non-member states have recognised the State of Palestine. Many of the countries that
do not recognise the State of Palestine nevertheless recognise the PLO as the representative
of the Palestinian people. On 29 November 2012, the UN General Assembly passed a
motion changing Palestine's "entity" status to "non-member observer state" by a vote of 138
to 9, with 41 abstentions.17 Israel and a number of other countries do not recognise Palestine,
taking the position that the establishment of this state can only be determined through direct
negotiations between Israel and the PNA. The main issues currently obstructing an agreement
are borders, security, water rights, the status of Jerusalem and freedom of access to religious
sites, on-going Israeli settlement expansion, and legalities concerning Palestinian refugees
including their right of return.
Many of the countries that do not recognize the State of Palestine nevertheless
recognize the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people. The PLO's Executive
Committee is enabled by the Palestinian National Council to perform the functions of
government of the State of Palestine, but even though in April 2011, the leading Palestinian
Crawford, James, Israel (19481949) and Palestine (19981999): Two Studies in the Creation of States, in Goodwin-Gil, G.S. and
Talmon, S., The Reality of International Law: Essays in Honour of Ian Brownlie, New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, Oxford University Press,
1999, pp. 95-100, 110-115
14
Kurz, Anat N., Fatah and the Politics of Violence: the institutionalization of a popular struggle, Brighton, Sussex Academic Press.2005.
p. 123
15
Flower, K; Roth, R; Vaccarello, J; and Sweeney, F, "U.N. Security Council to send Palestinian state bid to admissions committee",
http://edition.cnn.com/2011/09/26/world/un-palestinian-statehood/index.html?hpt=imi_c2, 26 September 2011, CNN (Cable News
Network).
16
Negotiations Affairs Department, Recognizing the Palestinian State on the 1967 border & Admission of Palestine as a Full Member of
the United Nations http://www.nad-plo.org/userfiles/file/fact%20sheet/who%20and%20why%20recognize%20Palestine%20Factsheet%20%20english%20July%202011_pdf.pdf, Palestinian National Authority, July 2011, p. 4.
17
UN General Assembly GA/11317, General Assembly Votes Overwhelmingly to Accord Palestine 'Non-Member Observer State' Status in
United Nations, 29 November 2012.
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parties consented to an arrangement of compromise, the unity government wasn`t formed


until 2nd June 2014. Thus, with a newly formed government, with an erratic and long history
behind, Palestine is still not widely considered a state. But, as Max Weber (1948) famously
noted that there is no activity that states always perform and none that they have never
performed18 is quite difficult to draw a line and say from this point forward, Palestine is a
state because it has people, territory, sovereignty, independence, government and
administration, a constitution and an army when in reality all of these are debatable and under
an enormous question mark. For a state, one of the main functions is security and this is why
we gave up part of our natural freedom in exchange of protection19 as a philosophy of
Human Rights. Chiefly considering the fact that Palestine can`t provide security to its people
and is governed by a political body considered a terrorist group, is even harder to see it as a
state by its full means. With Weber`s considerations that the State the social institution that
has monopoly of legitimate violence on a given territory and that Legitimacy is given by
social acceptance of the government, we can say that Palestine is a state. The political party
was democratically elected and recognized as a ruler by its people and Hamas army is using
violence as a legitimate way of defence. There is still a lack of power to impose the central
authority20, so we can also say that this is an anarchical system.
Palestine in the United Nations
On 14 October 1974, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was recognised by
the UN General Assembly as the representative of the Palestinian people and granted the
right to participate in the deliberations of the General Assembly on the question of Palestine
in plenary meetings. On 22 November 1974, the PLO was granted non-state observer status,
allowing the PLO to participate in all Assembly sessions, as well as in other UN platforms.
On 15 December 1988, UN General Assembly Resolution 43/177 "acknowledged" the
Palestinian Declaration of Independence of November 1988 and replaced the designation
"Palestine Liberation Organization" by the designation "Palestine" in the United Nations
system. On 23 September 2011, President Mahmoud Abbas on behalf of the PLO submitted
an application for membership of Palestine in the United Nations. On 29 November 2012, the
General Assembly granted Palestine non-member observer state status in United Nations
General Assembly resolution 67/19. On 17 December 2012, UN Chief of Protocol Yeocheol
Bob Jessop, The State and state building in The Oxford Handbook of Political Institutions edited by R. A. W. Rhodes, Sarah A. Binder,
Bert A. Rockman , p. 16, OUP Oxford, Jun 12, 2008
19
Idem, p. 112
20
Bull, Henry, The Anarchical Society A Study of Order in World Politics, Palgrave Macmillan 2002, p. 102
18

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Blaga Ioana Iulia, SD II

Yoon decided that "the designation of 'State of Palestine' shall be used by the Secretariat in
all official United Nations documents".
Non-member observer state status
During September 2012, Palestine decided to pursue an upgrade in status from
"observer entity" to "non-member observer state". On 27 November of the same year, it was
announced that the appeal had been officially made, and would be put to a vote in the General
Assembly on 29 November, where their status upgrade was expected to be supported by a
majority of states. In addition to granting Palestine "non-member observer state status", the
draft resolution "expresses the hope that the Security Council will consider favorably the
application submitted on 23 September 2011 by the State of Palestine for admission to full
membership in the United Nations, endorses the two state solution based on the pre-1967
borders, and stresses the need for an immediate resumption of negotiations between the two
parties."
On Thursday, 29 November 2012, In a 1389 vote (with 41 abstaining) General
Assembly resolution 67/19 passed, upgrading Palestine to "non-member observer state"
status in the United Nations. The new status equates Palestine's with that of the Holy See.
The change in status was described by The Independent as "de facto recognition of the
sovereign state of Palestine". Voting "no" were Canada, the Czech Republic, Israel,
the Marshall

Islands,

the Federated

States

of

Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Panama and

the United States of America.


The vote was an important benchmark for the partially recognised State of Palestine
and its citizens, while it was a diplomatic setback for Israel and the United States. Status as
an observer state in the UN will allow the State of Palestine to join treaties and specialised
UN agencies, the Law of the Seas treaty, and the International Criminal Court. It will permit
Palestine to pursue legal rights over its territorial waters and air space as a sovereign state
recognised by the UN, and allow the Palestinian people the right to sue for sovereignty over
their territory in the International Court of Justice and to bring "crimes against humanity" and
war-crimes charges, including that of unlawfully occupying the territory of State of Palestine,
against Israel in the International Criminal Court.
The UN has, after the resolution was passed, permitted Palestine to title its
representative office to the UN as "The Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine
to the United Nations", seen by many as a reflexion of the UN's de facto position of
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recognising the State of Palestine's sovereignty under international law, and Palestine has
started to re-title its name accordingly on postal stamps, official documents and passports.
The Palestinian authorities have also instructed its diplomats to officially represent the "State
of Palestine", as opposed to the "Palestine National Authority". Additionally, on 17 December
2012, UN Chief of Protocol Yeocheol Yoon decided that "the designation of "State of
Palestine" shall be used by the Secretariat in all official United Nations documents",
recognising the "State of Palestine" as the official name of the Palestinian nation.
On Thursday 26 September 2013 at the United Nations, Mahmoud Abbas was given
the right to sit in the General Assemblys beige chair which is reserved for heads of state
waiting to take the podium and address the General Assembly.

Palestinian Diplomacy Institutions

Even though things are still complicated in terms of defining wheatear Palestine is a
state or not and is still isn`t recognized by all countries, it acts as such. The State of Palestine
has a network of diplomatic missions accredited to countries that recognise the partially
recognised state, predominantly in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the
Middle East. In addition there are several delegations and other representative offices that
represent the Palestinian Authority to other states and multilateral organisations, of which
their agents may be accorded some degree of recognition similar to what is proscribed to
other diplomats. The State of Palestine currently enjoys bilateral recognition from 135 other
States. Many States extended recognition to the State of Palestine following the Declaration
of Independence by the Palestine National Council on 15 November 1988 in Algeris, Algeria.
Other States recognized the State of Palestine in the recent period following extensive
bilateral and multilateral diplomatic efforts.
The foreign relations of the Palestine Liberation Organization have been conducted
since the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964. In November
1988, the PLO's Palestinian National Council declared the independence of the State of
Palestine and in 1994 the PLO established the Palestinian National Authority (PNA)
following the Oslo Accords. The PLO Executive Committee performs the functions of the
government of the State of Palestine. Currently, the PLO maintains a network of offices in
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Diplomatic and Consular Law

Blaga Ioana Iulia, SD II

foreign countries and also represents the PNA abroad. From 2011, the PLO's diplomatic
effort has been focused on the so-called Palestine 194 campaign, which aims to gain
membership for the State of Palestine in the United Nations. It seeks to effectively gain
collective recognition for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem
as its capital.
Since the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organisation in 1964, Palestinian
diplomacy had stepped important levels in the diplomatic field and realized political
achievements for the Palestinian cause most notable of which, the restoration of the
Palestinian political identity and its fixation on the world map by the recognition of the
international personality and role of the PLO.
PLO was able to concrete its diplomatic effort in an active process that was later
exemplar for many liberation movements. This effort resulted in the establishment of more
than 90 official representation s worldwide which meant the recognition of PLO and the
legitimacy of its program aiming at freedom and independence. Some scholars considered
such authorization to build permanent diplomatic relations as an implicit recognition of
national sovereignty.
Different institutions of the PLO played a vital role in the consolidation of these
diplomatic achievements and the construction of solid bases for Palestinian diplomacy that
enjoyed international respect, especially the President Office and the Political department.
Moreover, PLO representatives, ambassadors and delegates contributed in the reinforcement
of Palestinian diplomatic principles and norms despite hard circumstances they have faced
during critical stages of their office.

The Political Department

-Historical Background-

The political department is an essential organ in the structure of PLO which is the
main political body of the Palestinian people, established in 1964 as to implement the
resolution of the Arab summit in the same year, in order to represent the Palestinians on the
political level. The Palestinian National Council held a congress in which he elected Ahmad
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Al-Shoqeri as first president of the Executive Committee which is the highest authority in
PLO.
In the very beginning, the two main organs responsible for foreign affairs were the
Department of Arab Affairs chaired first by Nemer Al-Masri, and the Department of
International Affairs chaired first by Dawoud Al-Hasan. These 2 organs were the machinery
of the diplomatic action undertook by the PLO at that period in the Arab and International
scene. In 1965, these two organs melt as to form the Political Department first chaired by
Abu Yusuf Al-Najjar, assassinated in the same year in Beirut21. In 1969, the Palestinian
bureaucracy represented by Ahmad Al-Shoqeri who failed to satisfy the Palestinian masses
and lacked the effective support of Arab regimes, was overthrown when Arafat, leader of
Fateh movement was elected to be Chairman of PLO Executive Committee. Fateh was
strongly supported by Palestinian popular organizations like the General Union of Palestine
Students (GUPS)22 which was a basis for the training of Palestinian guerrillas of the young
generation. This group took the power of PLO and in 1969 promised a new age of struggle
for the Palestinian people. They also carried several reforms at the political and structural
levels in PLO. Among the transformations made by Arafat, the concentration on the
diplomatic battles while running the full-scale war with Israel. Khaled Al- Hasan, member of
Fateh Central Committee was appointed Chairman of PLO Political Department in 1969, and
then replaced by Farouk Al-Kadumi from 1974 until today.
Kadumi war name was Abu Lotf, member of Fateh Central Committee and one of the
moderate figures of PLO leaders. In the year of his chairmanship, the international
community recognized the legitimacy of PLO and its representation of the Palestinian people,
which was concreted in the discourse of Arafat before the UN General Assembly.
Under his chairmanship, the PLO Political Department supervised Palestinian
diplomacy in sensitive period of the Palestinian history and in many crises the PLO passed
through especially in Black September of 1970 when Jordanian forces attacked the PLO
guerrillas who made military operations from Jordan causing Israeli reprisals. The Israeli
invasion of Lebanon and the consequences of Lebanese civil war in the early 1982 pushed the
PLO and all its agencies and departments to seek shelter in Tunis. From 1982, the Political
21

Hurani, Faysal, Palestinian political thought from 1964 to 1974, a study of PLO Basic Documents. 1980, p.45;
General Union of Palestine Students: Established in the 1920s, when the Palestine problem began, the Palestinian student movement was
one of the first national Palestinian institutions to be formed. Palestinian students were the first sector of their society to become aware of
the political dilemma facing their country, Palestine. GUPS was officially launched in 1959 in Cairo, Egypt. Over 100 branches of GUPS
were then established worldwide, with a total of over 100,000 students. Source : http://www.gups.org.uk
22

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Department and Kadumi were then located in Tunisia and directed the Foreign affairs related
to PLO. In 1988, the Charter of Independence was adopted by the Palestinian National
Council in its 11th session in Algiers and compromised the establishment of the State of
Palestine with Arafat elected as president, and Kadumi as Foreign Minister. The Political
Department which was responsible for the diplomatic affairs became a Foreign Ministry and
remained the reference of any PLO diplomatic activity.
-Structure-

This organization is responsible for 96 official representations worldwide. Nonaligned


Movement (NAM)23 countries, countries of the Islamic Conference Organization, countries
of the African Union, China and Japan all formally recognize the State of Palestine and
established normal relations with PLO in consideration of this recognition. Spain, Portugal,
Greece, East European countries, Italy, Germany, Britain, and France agreed on receiving
permanent delegations of PLO, which represents an unofficial recognition as Palestinian
delegates enjoy full diplomatic privileges and immunities. In Australia, Canada and the USA,
PLO is only allowed to have Information bureaus that function to coordinate relations
concerning the Palestinian communities in those countries, and to assort the political
positions.
Besides, the PLO is an observer member in the UN and the African Union, and full
member in the League of Arab States24, the Islamic Conference organization and the
nonalignment states. For this reason, the internal structure of the Political Department is
founded on geographical basis and divided into special administrations. Each administration
is chaired by a high official with a degree of Ambassador. The structure is organized as
following:
1. African Union administration.
2. North America and Europe administration: it is the most sensitive section as
Europe and North America are the two leading powers of today; it works to

23

Non-aligned Movement (NAM): loose association of countries that, during the Cold War, had no formal commitment to either of the two
power blocs in the world, which were led by the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The group was formed
in September 1961 by a conference of 25 heads of state in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. The conference was organized by leaders of countries that
had recently freed themselves from foreign domination and rejected renewed ties to any big power. Prominent among these leaders were
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India and Presidents Sukarno of Indonesia, Nasser of Egypt, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Skou Tour
of Guinea, and Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, Source: Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2004
24
League of Arab States: Arab League, informal name of the League of Arab States, a voluntary association of independent countries whose
peoples are mainly Arabic speaking. Its stated purposes are to strengthen ties among the member states, coordinate their policies, and
promote their common interests.

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tighten the cultural, political and economic relationships with them on the basis of
mutual respect for the benefit of the Palestinian people.
3. Asia administration.
4.

Arab states administration: it is the most active organ in the Department since it
coordinates the political stand of the Department with the League of Arab States
members which are supposed to be the main political supporters of the PLO at the
diplomatic level.

5. Information and communication administration.


6. Israeli/Palestinian affairs administration: it deals with all what concerns the
Palestinian occupied territories and Israel including economy, prisoners and
expatriates.
7.

Research and Refugees administration: it is located in a separate building and is


concerned with the sponsor of Palestinian Refugees actions around the world. It
conducts also special reports and researches and is supposed to cooperate with the
United Nations Refugees Working Agency (UNRWA)25.

8. International

Organizations

administration:

it

regulates

the

Palestinian

representations in the United Nations, the Islamic Conference Organization26,


Nonaligned Movement (NAM), and other International Organizations.

In addition to the Secretariat and Computer administration held by Tunisian and


Palestinian clerks. Each responsible for an administration has a number of assistants that
varies in accordance with the importance of the administration. For example, the Arab states
administration comprises 3 assistants while the African Union administration is composed of
one official.
These administrations are headed by a general director with a degree of minister
deputy, supposed to be the main motor of the Political Department and the vice-chairman.
The chairman is the foreign minister which conducts the general shape of Palestinian

25

United Nations Refugees Working Agency: Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works
Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, was established by United Nations General Assembly resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December
1949 to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees. Since its establishment, the Agency has delivered its services in
times of relative calm in the Middle East, and in times of hostilities. It has fed, housed and clothed tens of thousands of fleeing refugees and
at the same time educated and given health care to hundreds of thousands of young refugees
26
Islamic Conference Organization set up by the Kings and Heads of State and Government of Islamic States, in 1969 and was the concrete
expression of a great awareness, on the part of the Islamic community, of the necessity to establish an Organization embodying its
aspirations and capable of carrying out its just struggle against the various challenges which threatened it and still persist.

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diplomacy undertaking. The Head Office of the Political Department is located in the
Tunisian capital and has a single affiliate in Amman.
-Role and missions-

The political department mission is to execute the PLO foreign policy as convened by
the Executive Committee and the President of what has been called the State of Palestine..
The Political Department also represents the PLO and the State of Palestine at international
conferences, such as those of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and the Organization
of the Islamic Conference.
Mr. Kadumi, Foreign Minister of the State of Palestine and Head of the Political
Department of the PLO, represents officially the PLO in all international ceremonies and
meetings. The Department objectives are to collect national and international support to the
Palestine cause in terms of:
Financial help: The PLO and its affiliated institutions had no source of money but the
donator states such as the Gulf States, the European Union, Canada and the United States of
America, due to the destruction of Palestinian economy in the Occupied Territories.
Political/Diplomatic help: Thanks mainly to the Arab and Soviet vote in the General
Assembly and the Security Council, the PLO has won diplomatic battles inside the UN,
concreted especially in the Security Council resolutions 24227, 33828.
Social/Humanitarian help: The hard situation that lives the Palestinian people in the
occupied territories and the Diaspora has always been a principal element in every diplomatic
meeting between the PLO and the foreign countries. Many states including European, Arab,
Asian and Ex-Soviet, afford development programs in camps and scholar grants for
Palestinian students.

27

Security Council Resolution 242: of 22 November 1967 [Adopted 1382nd meeting - unanimously] : it affirms that the fulfilment of
Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the
following principles: withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict; and termination of all claims or states
of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the
area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force. It also affirms the necessity
for guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area; for achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;
and for guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every state in the area through measures including the
establishment of demilitarized zones. Finally it requests the Secretary-General to designate a Special Representative to promote agreement
and assist 55 efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in this resolution.
Source: http://www.palestine-un.org
28
Security Council Resolution 338: of 22 October 1973 [Adopted at 1747th meeting unanimously] : it calls for an immediate cease-fire and
termination of all military activity; calls upon the parties concerned to start immediately after the cease-fire the implementation of Security
Council resolution 242 (1967) in all of its parts; and decides that immediately and concurrently with the cease-fire, negotiations start
between the parties concerned under appropriate auspices aimed at establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East. Source:
http://www.palestine-un.org

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The Ministry of foreign Affairs

-Historical Background-

In 1989, the Palestinian Intifada in the occupied territories gave a new breath to the
PLO which was supporting and directing Intifada from its headquarters in Tunis. The USA,
joined by Arab and European regimes, was making diplomatic efforts to bring the
Palestinians and Israel into negotiations. Secret meetings and discussions were held between
them in the capital of Norway and led to the Oslo Convention29. Israel and the PLO signed
the convention in 1993, permitting thus to the Palestinians to build a self-authority in return
to PLO recognition of Israels right to exist.
After the establishment of Palestinian National Authority (PNA), as convened by the
Oslo accords and the return of PLO officers to the occupied territories, the new authority had
to reassert its international position through diplomacy. Although, for political reasons, the
Oslo accords limited the PNA foreign relations scope, nevertheless, the PNA established The
Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MOPIC) to handle international
assistance to the Palestinian Territories and developed its assigned mandate to be the ministry
responsible for the foreign relations. The fifth Palestinian government was formed in 2000 30,
and established a new Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) for the purpose of undertaking all
the duties associated with a typical foreign ministry in a sovereign country, in the course of
managing Palestines foreign relations that serves its national interests.
Palestine is adopting a set of principles and concepts which reflect the basic goals for
its foreign policy to deal with all International and regional issues. Palestine cooperates
actively with all countries and political entities around the world on the basis of insisting to
keep the independent of Palestinian political decision, which represents a free Palestinian
will, and abiding to the principles of non- intervention in other countries internal affairs, and
respecting the sovereignty of neighboring countries. It also stresses on the full commitment to
the UN charter, goals, International Law and to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
and the establishment of good relationship with all states on the basis of equality and mutual
respect, for the benefit of all peoples.

29

Bseso, Sakhr, The PLO between the struggle and the settlement, MIC Prints, Gaza 2003,p.76,

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Among the Ministry principles is the commitment to the main principles of NonAligned movement, to peaceful coexistence and cooperation with all states in order to
achieve comprehensive, just and lasting peace based on the respect of rights, to settling all
international and regional crises through peaceful and diplomatic mechanisms, and to refuse
all forms of use, or threat of use of force against the integrity of its territory and independence
or integrity of others, without prejudice of its right to self-defence.
The first Palestinian Minister was Dr. Nabil Shaath, Chairman of the Political
Committee in the Palestinian National Council. After the disappearance of Former President
Arafat, Mr. Korei formed a new government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs became in
2005 under the chairmanship of Mr. Nasser Al-Kodwa, former PLO delegate to the UN.
Ministry offices are located in Ramallah and Gaza City.
-Role and Missions-

As in its capacity as Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry has a key role in all
negotiations held on behalf of the Palestinian National Authority and the State of Palestine.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for31: organizing of diplomatic and consular
representation between the Palestinian National Authority and foreign states and Intentional
and regional organizations, Establishing cooperation relationships with international and
regional organizations and groupings and keep regular contact and cooperation with foreign
representative offices in Jerusalem and other embassies designated to the PNA. It participates
in international conferences and international organizations meetings and concludes
economic, cultural, scientific, educational, and technical agreements with other states and
international institutions32.
MOFA has significantly rationalized and consolidated the activities of most of the
representative offices around the globe. Yet, these functions continue to exact a considerable
financial burden and toll on the PNAs budget. The Ministry has introduced a variety of cost
cutting programs including encouraging a system of non-resident ambassadors as well as the
use of email as a standard practice to reduce communications expenses. Nevertheless, as a
result of the complicated political situation, the remaining embassies and representative
offices were deemed to be vital to promoting Palestinian interests. Accordingly, the Ministry

31

Majdalawi, Khalil, The Palestinian National Authority, The Arab Library, 2003. p. 21;
In this field, a technical cooperation between MOFA and the Political Department is supposed to exist. Although there has been a
conflicting relationship based on political considerations in the latest years of Mr. Arafat Presidency and the first Presidency of Mr. Abbas.
32

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will continue to develop the capacities and competencies of these embassies in preparations
for the Palestinian State.

Palestine on the International scene

Palestinian diplomacy earlier forms were nearly attempts to gain support to the
militant groups within the PLO, between the factions themselves, and between PLO and the
Arab regimes. The situation is going to change with Al-Nakseh, Nasser death, Arafat
chairmanship and the Black September.
After the Palestinian recognition and reassertion of the PLO, and after the
membership of virtually all resistance groups and factions like the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP)
and Al Saeqa. The PLO comprised all political and ideological stands that were effective on
the Palestinian scene: the Communists (backed by Syria, Libya, Iraq and the Union of Soviet
Socialist Republics), the Muslim Brotherhood, backed by (Saudi Arabia, Iran), and the
moderate trend represented by Fatah which was supported by Egypt and gained sympathy of
the Palestinian masses after Al- Karameh battle in 1968 when few Fateh guerrillas pushed the
Israeli Army to retreat after a victorious battle in Al-Karameh, Jordan.
In October 1974, the 17th Arab Summit conference held at Morocco decided that:
PLO is the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. The conference
confirms the right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent national authority
under the leadership of the PLO, being the legitimate and sole representative of the people on
any would-be liberated soil. All Arab countries are committed to preserving the Palestinian
national unity and non-interference in the internal affairs of the Palestinian business.33
This diplomatic victory came after the 1973 war with Israel, and increased Palestinian
support to the PLO; which started to become more flexible concerning their idea of the ArabIsraeli conflict solution.

33

Kadumi, Farouk, Palestine between the past and the present, Arabic centre for strategic studies, 1999. p. 53

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The turning point was when the UN passed the resolution 32236 on 22nd November
1974, recognizing the PLO as representative of the Palestinian people and inviting Arafat to
deliver his famous speech before the General Assembly in the same year. This was
considered as a revolutionary change for the Palestinians since the world used to look at their
problem as refugees humanitarian question. Since the PLO adherence to the UN, the
international community implicitly agreed that the Palestinian question has also political and
strategic implications and is not merely a humanitarian case.
The Palestinian struggle for independence and statehood which was supported mainly
by the Palestinian masses and encouraged by the Arab regimes for various reasons, became
open to the international opinion. This fact had a great impact on the diplomatic practices and
institutions which started a long process of building relationships with worldwide pressure
groups and lobbies with the aim to gain more support and sympathy. President Arafat carried
out a diplomatic marathon for the sake of the Palestinian cause, visiting almost all the world
countries to ensure the political and diplomatic support and collect allies for the PLO. This
strategy guaranteed better results for Palestinian diplomacy and impeded many pro-Israeli
plans at the political level in Europe, Asia and within the United Nations.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian view of the conflict solution started to change: the idea of
the democratic state came into existence and was expressed in Arafat speech in the United
Nations: When we speak of our common hopes for the Palestine of tomorrow, we include in
our perspective all Jews now living in Palestine who choose to live with us there in peace and
without discrimination.[..] That we might live together in a framework of a just peace in our
democratic Palestine.34
The rough liberation ideologies and slogans that Nasser has created were consolidated
and stimulated within the popular, political and diplomatic culture with calls from Habib
Bourguiba to accept the 1947 Partition Plan and Sadate negotiations and subsequent peace
treaty with Israel.35 These two leaders became alienated and the Palestinians condemned
strongly any kind of deal with Israel.
At that time, the Political Department, chaired by Mr. Kadumi and the Negotiations
Department, chaired by Mr. Abbas were executing the general PLO policies concerning

34
35

What do you know about the PLO? PLO Prints, Malta, 1987. p. 42
Kadumi, Farouk, Palestine between the past and the present, Arabic centre for strategic studies, 1999. p. 60

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foreign relations, as convened by the Political Program adopted at the 12 th Session of the
Palestine National Council in Cairo, 8 June 1974.36
In 1982, during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Mr. Kadumi was the PLO spokesman
and special envoy to Syria in a very critical period of the Lebanese-Syrian-Palestinian civil
war, in addition to cruel Israeli attacks on Palestinian refugee and training camps.
The American envoy Philip Habib came to Beirut and concluded an agreement with
PLO on 20th August, 1982 after the siege of Beirut, and the hard conditions the Palestinian
resistance had endured whilst facing the large and re-enforced Israeli Army for over 88
days37.
Palestinian diplomacy witnessed sensitive challenges during this episode of the
modern history that were directly threatening lives of thousands of Palestinian refugees in
Lebanon, and putting thousands of Palestinians in the occupied territories under a siege of
poverty and military regime. The leadership of PLO, being expulsed to Tunis, started to see
the situation from a broader framework. It restored the relations with Egypt, and began a
process of internal modifications after Syrian attempts to undermine Arafat by helping
Palestinian opposites38. It also started to build links with Palestinians from the occupied
territories, strengthen ties with foreign powers. But the real transformation was to make and
encourage official contacts with Israeli leftist peace movements, which will represent a
background for the next stage of the Palestinian struggle: the negotiations39.

Conclusions
There has been very little progress on the diplomatic front of Palestine.
Diplomatic failure has led to a second Intifada with accompanying violence which
began in the fall of 2000. There have been frequent acts of Israeli assassinations and
Palestinian reprisals. An agreement was in sight, but talks broke down over failure to agree
on the future of Jerusalem and - to a lesser extent - the fate of Palestinian refugees. Israeli
leaders believed they had been generous to the Palestinians, while Palestinian negotiators
36

12th Session of the Palestine National Council: Among its recommendations concerning diplomacy and foreign relations : 8. Once it is
established, the Palestinian national authority will strive to achieve a union of the confrontation countries, with the aim of completing the
liberation of all Palestinian territory, and as a step along the road to comprehensive Arab unity. 9. The Liberation Organization will strive to
strengthen its solidarity with the socialist countries, and with the forces of liberation and progress throughout the world, with the aim of
frustrating all the schemes of Zionism, reaction and imperialism. Source: Documents of Palestine, PLO Culture Department, 1987.
37
Idem
38
Microsoft Encarta Reference Library, 2004
39
Abbas, Mahmoud, The way to Oslo, Prints society, 1st Edition, Beirut, 1994, p. 43

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rejected the proposals as inadequate. The two sides came even closer to agreement when they
met in Taba, Egypt in September 2014. But this, too, ended in failure.
In 2013, a "road map" peace plan developed by the U.S, Russia, the European Union
and the United Nations was presented to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The plan calls
for the immediate cessation of hostilities and Israeli withdrawal from areas that it has
occupied since September 2000 as a condition for further negotiations regarding the nature of
a Palestinian state. In response to this initiative, there was some conciliatory rhetoric from
both sides and actual peace negotiations but there has been little bilateral progress.
In addition to international challenges that face the Palestinian Diplomacy in the
negotiations and the constant battles to reassert its legitimacy, it faces the different ideologies
of Palestinian factions that gained estimable respect among the Palestinian people during
Intifada. On several occasions, PNA was conducting agreements with Israel concerning
security and withdrawal from Arab cities fearing operations by Hamas (Islamic Resistance
Movement), Islamic Jihad, and even Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Fateh military branch.
Technical problems of MOFA structure, financing and also cooperation between the
PLO Political Department and MOFA, impede any effective success of Palestinian
Diplomacy and reflect the crisis of representation between the PLO and the PNA. At the level
of the negotiations, the Palestinians do their best to avoid sceptical views but regarding their
long history of war with Israel, they realize that they have no chance in getting any real
concession from Israel which holds the most powerful and destructive army and weapons in
the Middle East. The Palestinians should cling to their identity and history and they should
not apologize to the knife that hurt them.
Therefore the priorities of Palestinian Diplomacy can be summed up as following:
Be more effective in building relations with the maximum number of allies.
Create bridges with the Palestinian communities in Diaspora.
Guarantee security for the Palestinian people.
Form new generations that are capable to lead the Palestinian people in the future.
Draw general limits of concessions in case of final status negotiations.
Cling to the right of resistance without encouraging Commando operations.
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Form an efficient information system to explain the Palestinian view to the world.
Solve all dilemmas of representation that lead to ambiguity in any political process.
To achieve all this, the Palestinian people have to be united against the Israeli, Arab
and American diplomatic campaigns and to be aware of the plans of repatriation and closure
of the Palestine question. History always proved that after any painful experience, the
Palestinian people was able to rebuild itself and be reborn.
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