Palestine Liberation Organization

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The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), of which Fatah is a part, formally recognized Israel in 1993. The PLO is an umbrella group effectively acting as the name of a coalition of parties in the Palestinian Authority, the significant exception being Hamas and other Islamist groups.[1] Fatah, however, never recognized Israel.

First established in 1964, notably before the capture of the West Bank and Gaza, its founding declaration declared the "right of the Palestinian Arab people to its sacred homeland Palestine and affirming the inevitability of the battle to liberate the usurped part from it, and its determination to bring out its effective revolutionary entity and the mobilization of the capabilities and potentialities and its material, military and spiritual forces". [2] In other words, its initial focus was on regaining the land assigned to the State of Israel, by UN General Assembly Resolution 181, which partitioned the British Mandate of Palestine.

Beginning of warfare

Fatah had existed as an underground since the mid-1950s. On January 1, 1965, its Al-‘Asifa military wing began guerrilla warfare against Israel. After the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, many of the PLO elements moved into Jordan, and to a lesser extent Syria.

Fatah proposed a one-state settlement in January 1968,[3] which would, however, have not preserved the Jewish identity of Israel. Israel took military action against PLO bases in Jordan in June. The PLO charter was changed at a Palestine National Congress in Cairo, to adopt a more militant approach.

Black September

Yasser Arafat became Chairman in 1969. In September 1970, the military forces of Jordan, in an action called "Black September" by the PLO, drove their forces out of their bases. The leadership moved to Beirut, Lebanon.

Fatah formed a deniable special operations unit, named Black September, not simply to carry out terror operations, but operations that would catch media attention. [4] Its first operation was first operation was the "assassination, in November of 1971, of Jordan's Prime Minister Wasfi al-Tal, who was gunned down as he entered the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel in Cairo. While Tal lay dying, one of the assassins knelt and lapped with his tongue the blood flowing across the marble floor. That grisly scene, reported in The Times of London and other major newspapers, created an image of uncompromising violence and determination that was exactly what Arafat both wanted and needed."

Subsequently, at the 1972 Munich Olympic games, it took members of the Israeli team hostage. All were killed.

Expulsion from Lebanon

In 1982, Israel moved against the Lebanese bases, and Arafat moved the headquarters to Tunisia. He returned the next year, but left afterwards.

While it had been believed that Tunisia was out of Israeli range, they flew an exceptionally long mission and bombed facilities there in 1985.

Elections in Palestine


  1. Introduction, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations
  2. Statement of Proclamation of the Organization, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations, 28 May 1964
  3. Important Events of the Last 100 Years 1961 - 1985, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations
  4. Bruce Hoffman (December 2001), "All You Need Is Love", Atlantic Monthly