Palestinian liberation organization


The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
    The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has been the embodiment  of
the Palestinian national movement. It is  a  broad  national  front,  or  an
umbrella  organization,  comprised  of   numerous   organizations   of   the
resistance  movement,  political   parties,   popular   organizations,   and
independent personalities and figures from all sectors  of  life.  The  Arab
Summit  in  1974  recognized  the  PLO   as   the   "sole   and   legitimate
representative of the  Palestinian  people"  and  since  then  the  PLO  has
represented Palestine at the United Nations,  the  Movement  of  Non-Aligned
Countries (NAM), the Organization of the Islamic Conference  (OIC),  and  in
many other fora. In addition to its broad national and political goals,  the
PLO  has  dealt  with  numerous  tasks  with  regard  to  the  life  of  the
Palestinian people in  their  main  communities  and  throughout  the  world
through the establishment of several institutions in such realms as  health,
education and social services. As such, the PLO  is  more  than  a  national
liberation  movement  striving  to  achieve  the  national  goals   of   the
Palestinian people, including the establishment of a Palestinian state  with
Jerusalem as its capital.
    The PLO was established in 1964 with Arab support. At  that  time,  the
PLO was headed by Mr. Ahmed  Al-Shukairy  and,  since  then,  has  undergone
significant  changes  in  its   composition,   leading   bodies,   political
orientation, and even the locales of its headquarters.  The  leading  bodies
of the PLO are the Palestine National Council (PNC),  the  Central  Council,
and the Executive Committee. Political pluralism  has  remained  a  defining
feature of the  organization,  as  have  democratic  internal  dialogue  and
attempts to reach decisions by consensus  in  its  bodies,  recognizing  the
presence  of  many  differing  views  and  competing  alliances   throughout
different periods. In 1968, the organization witnessed the beginning of  the
engagement of the Feda’iyeen organizations (armed  struggle  organizations),
particularly Fateh. In 1969, Yasser Arafat,  leader  of  Fateh,  became  the
Chairman of the Executive Committee of the PLO and, in 1971, he  became  the
General Commander of the Palestine Forces.  His  name  has  been  synonymous
with the PLO and with the Palestinian national movement.
    Since the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and
the  convening  of  general  elections  in  January  1996  in  the  Occupied
Palestinian Territory, including  Jerusalem,  which  were  preceded  by  the
return of most Palestinian leaders to their homeland, the  Authority’s  role
and responsibilities continue to increase, in some ways at  the  expense  of
the PLO. In the Palestinian territory, as well as  outside,  Islamic  groups
remain outside the PLO, which  traditionally  has  not  mixed  religion  and
politics.
    In general, the current Palestinian situation  is  constantly  changing
and progressing towards the establishment of a state and the building  of  a
Palestinian democracy. These changes will affect the PLO, but  there  is  no
doubt that, at least for some time, the PLO will  continue  its  role  as  a
very important Palestinian structure  for  the  Palestinian  people  in  the
Occupied Territories, in the refugee camps, and throughout the world.



    Structure:

    I. Palestine National Council
    The PNC, which is the highest  decision-making  body  of  the  PLO,  is
considered to be the parliament of all Palestinians inside  and  outside  of
the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem.  The  PNC  normally
sets PLO policies, elects the Executive Committee and  makes  the  necessary
changes in its own membership, as well as changes to the Palestine  National
Charter (a special meeting is required) and to the Fundamental  Law  of  the
organization. The PNC also elects a speaker, two deputies and  a  secretary,
who make up the Bureau of the Council. The  Council  has  its  own  standing
committees for various aspects of its work, such as its legal and  political
committees. The composition  of  the  PNC  represents  all  sectors  of  the
Palestinian community worldwide and includes numerous organizations  of  the
resistance movement, political parties, popular organizations (each  of  the
above is represented by specific quotas) and independent  personalities  and
figures  from  all  sectors  of  life,  including  intellectuals,  religious
leaders and businessmen. The current membership of  the  PNC  stands  at  X,
including all of  the  88  elected  members  of  the  Palestine  Legislative
Council (PLC).
    II. Central Council
    The Central Council, which was established by the PNC in 1973,  is  the
second leading body of the PLO. The Council  functions  as  an  intermediary
body  between  the  PNC  and  the  Executive  Committee.  At  present,   the
membership stands at 124, including 15 representatives of the PLC. The  last
meeting of the Central Council took place in Gaza on 10 December 1998.
    III. Executive Committee
    The Executive Committee is the daily leading body of  the  PLO  and  it
represents the organization at the international  level.  The  Committee  is
elected by the members of PNC and it is responsible to  the  PNC.  Its  main
function is to execute the policies and decisions set out  by  the  PNC  and
the Central Council. The  Committee  is  also  responsible  for  adopting  a
budget and for overseeing the functioning of the  departments  of  the  PLO,
the responsibilities of which are distributed among its  members.  Decisions
of the Committee are taken by a simple majority. Its  membership  stands  at
18, including its Chairman.
    IV. Palestine National Fund
    The Fund is managed by a board of directors and by a  chairman  who  is
elected by the PNC and who automatically serves on the Executive  Committee.
The other members of the board are appointed  by  the  Executive  Committee,
with a maximum of 11 members. Revenues for the fund come from two sources  -
a fixed tax  on  the  wages  earned  by  all  Palestinians  living  in  Arab
countries and collected by those respective governments and  from  financial
contributions by Arab governments and peoples, an amount that  in  the  past
was substantial.
    V. Palestine Liberation Army
    The Palestine Liberation Army (PLA) was  established  as  the  official
military branch of the PLO in 1964, in accordance with  the  resolutions  of
the 1st Palestinian Conference (the 1st PNC). At that time,  three  brigades
were established: Ein Jalut in Gaza  and  Egypt,  Kadissiyah  in  Iraq,  and
Hiteen in Syria. In practice, those brigades were dominated by  the  general
command of the armed forces of their respective host countries.  Over  time,
however, changes were made to the PLA’s structure, including, for  instance,
the establishment in 1968 of commando units in Gaza  to  fight  against  the
Israeli  occupation,  known  as   Kuwat   al-Tahrir   Al-Sha’biya   (Popular
Liberation Troops).  Recently,  with  the  establishment  of  the  Palestine
National Authority (PNA), important parts of those  brigades  in  Egypt  and
Jordan were absorbed into the PNA security forces.
    VI. Departments
    The Organization has established departments that are  responsible  for
several important spheres of work, each headed by a member of the  Executive
Committee. The departments include the Political Department, the  Department
of Returnees, the Department of Culture and Information, and the  Department
of  Popular  Organizations.  Of  these,  the  Political  Department  is  the
largest. It directs and supervises the work  of  Palestinian  representation
abroad,  including  Palestinian  embassies,  missions   and   offices.   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 (NAM) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference  (OIC).  (For
the addresses of all embassies  look  under  the  Directory  of  Palestinian
Embassies & Missions for the addresses of all embassies).
    VII. Palestinian Institutions
    The institutions of the PLO have achieved  significant  accomplishments
through the myriad  of  social,  economic  and  health  services  that  they
provide to Palestinian  communities.  Among  the  most  important  of  these
institutions are the following:
    • Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS): Established in 1968 in Jordan,
the PRCS provides medical and health care to  the  Palestinian  people.  The
PRCS  started  out  with  only  several  small  clinics  and  grew  into   a
substantial medical network with hospitals and  medical  centers  throughout
the region.
    • Palestinian Martyrs Works Society (SAMED): SAMED provided, throughout
an  important  period,  the  economic  infrastructure  of  the   Palestinian
community. It had been established in 1970 originally to provide  vocational
training to the children of Palestinian martyrs.
    • Sons of Martyrs: This organization owns several important  facilities
in the region that take care of the children of Palestinian martyrs.


	

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