Document of National Accord (Prisoner's Document)

This document, also known as "Prisoners' Document", defines the goals of the Palestinian national movement and was meant to serve as the platform for national appeasement.

Definition

The term "Document of National Accord"1 (hereinafter "the Document") refers to a document written by senior representatives of Palestinian factions currently serving time in Israeli prison. The Document defines the goals of the Palestinian national movement and the means to achieve them. Although the document refers to the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, it does not mention explicit recognition of Israel's right to exist.

Background

The Document was drafted by senior officials of Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front who are serving time at "Hadarim" prison.2

The Document was published In light of the economic crisis in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the increase in violent clashes between activists of armed factions. It was published on 5/11/06, about two weeks prior to the scheduled national dialogue between representatives of the factions in Gaza and the West Bank.

At the first meeting of the national dialogue Abu Mazen, President of the PA and Chairman of the PLO, announced that if the parties do not reach an agreement within ten days he would call a referendum on the content of the Document.3

Essence of the Document

The Document is directed at the leadership of the PLO, of the PA and of all other Palestinian factions and organizations. Its goal is to create a national consensus and undermine Israeli attempts of unilateral moves.4

The Document deals with the following issues:

Issue of the Palestinian Right to Self Determination - According to the Document, this right will be realized with the establishment of a Palestinian State within the '67 borders with Jerusalem as its capital; the realization of the Palestinian refugees' right of return; and the release of all Palestinian prisoners.5

Issue of Palestinian Representation6 - The Document presents principles for the division of powers and authorities between, and within, the PLO and the PA:

  • The PLO is the Sole Legitimate Representative of the Palestinian People. In order to sustain this status, the Cairo Accords, which stipulate the inclusion of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in the PLO, must be implemented.7

  • The PA is the core of the future Palestinian state. Therefore, the Basic Law of the PA8, which determines the division of powers and authorities between the President and the government must be upheld.
    The Document calls for the establishment of a national unity government, as a vital step towards the realization of Palestinian national aspirations.9

  • Political Negotiations will be under the authority of the PLO and the President of the PA. Any crucial agreement will be approved by the PNC.10

The Political Process and Struggle against Occupation - The Document calls for the formation of a comprehensive Palestinian political plan supported by Arab states and the international community.11

Alongside diplomatic efforts and political negotiations the Palestinian people will continue to employ all means available to resist the occupation within the '67 borders.12

Palestinian armed factions and forces - the Document calls for immediate cessation of all internal Palestinian violence,13 and suggests regulation of the activity of the armed forces in the following manner:

  • Reconstruction and development of the security apparatus14, and the regulation of its activity in legislation.15

  • Establishment of the "Palestinian Resistance Front" for coordination and cooperation between the organizations and factions.16

Palestinian Refugees - The Document calls for convening a representative national conference to protect refugees' rights and promote the implementation of UN General Assembly Resolution 194.17


1 Also known as the "18 Point Plan" or "Prisoners' Document".

2 The two most prominent representatives who signed the Document are Marwan Barghuthi, a Fatah leader from the West Bank, and Abdul Khalek A-Natshe, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council on behalf of Hamas.

3 Regular and Harel, Ha'aretz, 5/26/06.

4 Preamble of the Document.

5 Article 1 of the Document.

6 According to the Oslo Process the PLO holds responsibility for representing the PA (see Gaza-Jericho Agreement, Article VI - Powers and Responsibilities, paragraph 2; and the Interim Agreement, Chapter 1 - The Council, Article IX - Powers and Responsibilities of the Council, paragraph 5; Chapter 3 - Legal Affairs, Article XVII - Jurisdiction, paragraph 1.a).

Despite the restrictions in the Interim Agreement, the PA has established a diplomatic system and is handling its foreign relations independently. The Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation in the PA has turned into the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry conducts relations with the international community and supervises the Palestinians representatives abroad. The shift of responsibilities in this field from the PLO to the PA raised several disagreements between the two bodies. (Regular, Ha'aretz, 4/1/05, 5/1/05 [in Hebrew]).

7 Article 2 of the Document calls to restructure the Palestinian National Council (PNC) so that it would include representatives of all Palestinian factions by the end of 2006. The PNC is the supreme legislative authority of the PLO. See Bechor, Lexicon of the PLO, (Ministry of Defense, Tel Aviv,1991) (in Hebrew).

8 The Document uses the term "provisional constitution". Article 5 of the Document stresses the need for cooperation between the President of the PA and the Palestinian Prime Minister, and thus refers to the recent conflicts between the two following Hamas' electoral victory. Currently, the authorities of the Prime Minister and President, as defined by the Basic Law, often overlap. For further elaboration on the constitutional deadlock created following the creation of the position of Prime Minister see Re'ut Institue Fundamental Early Warning (FEW): Palestinian Elections - towards Institutional Dysfunction.

9 Article 6 of the Document

10 Article 7 of the Document. The Document does not specify the division of authorities between the PLO and the President of the PA regarding negotiations. Currently, Abu Mazen serves both as Chairman of the PLO and President of the PA. However, this unity of authority is not stipulated by any law or regulation.

11 Article 4 of the Document. Article 12 also calls for attaining Arab and international support for lifting the Israeli-American boycott of the PA.

12 Article 3 of the Document. Representatives of the Islamic Jihad added a reservation to this article.

13 Article 14 of the Document.

14 Article 16 of the Document. According to the Document, the role of the Palestinian security forces is to protect Palestinians from their enemies and enforce public order within the PA. It should be noted that according to the Interim Agreement (Article XII - Arrangements for Security and Public Order), Palestinian security forces are to "guarantee public order and internal security for the Palestinians of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip", while Israel is responsible for "for defense against external threats". The responsibility give to the security forces in the Document is another sign for the eroded status of the Principle of Palestinian Demilitarization. See also Militarized Palestinian State and Palestinian Army - Now or Later??

15 Article 17 of the Document.

16 Article 10 of the Document.

17 Article 9 of the Document.