Editor’s note: Composed by poet Mahmoud Darwish, the Palestinian Declaration of Independence was approved at an Algiers gathering of the Palestinian National Council on November 15, 1988. The declaration calls for an independent State of Palestine, which is described in the document as “the state of Palestinians wherever they may be.”
Declaration of Independence (1988) (UN Doc)
18 November 1988
Agenda item 37
QUESTION OF PALESTINE
Declaration of Independence
On the same terrain as God’s apostolic missions to mankind and in the land of Palestine was the Palestinian Arab people brought forth. There it grew and developed, and there it created its unique human and national mode of existence in an organic, indissoluble and unbroken relationship among people, land and history.
With epic tenaciousness in terms of place and time, the people of Palestine fashioned its national identity. Its steadfast endurance in its own defence rose to preternatural levels, for despite the ambitions, covetousness and armed invasions which deprived that people of an opportunity to achieve political independence, and which were prompted by the allure of this ancient land and its crucial position on the intersecting boundaries of powerful nations and civilizations, it was the constancy with which the people adhered to the land that gave that land its identity and which imbued its people with the national spirit.
Nourished by many strains of civilizations and a multitude of cultures and finding inspiration in the texts of its spiritual and historical heritage, the Palestinian Arab people has, throughout history, continued to develop its identity in an integral unity of land and people and in the footsteps of the prophets throughout this Holy Land, the invocation of praise for the Creator high atop every minaret while hymns of mercy and peace have rung out with the bells of every church and temple.
From generation unto generation, the Palestinian Arab people has not ceased its valiant defence of its homeland, and the successive rebellions of our people have been a heroic embodiment of its desire for national independence.
At a time when the modern world was fashioning its new system of values, the prevailing balance of power in the local and international arenas excluded the Palestinians from the common destiny, and it was shown once more that it was not justice alone that turned the wheels of history.
The deep injury already done the Palestinian people and therefore aggravated when a painful differentiation was made: a people deprived of independence, and one whose homeland was subjected to a new kind of foreign occupation, was exposed to an attempt to give general currency to the falsehood that Palestine was “a land without a people”. Despite this falsification of history, the international community, in article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations of 1919 and in the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, recognized that the Palestinian Arab people was no different from the other Arab peoples detached from the Ottoman State and was a free and independent people.
Despite the historical injustice done to the Palestinian Arab people in its displacement and in being deprived of the right to self-determination following the adoption of General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 1947, which partitioned Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish State, that resolution nevertheless continues to attach conditions to international legitimacy that guarantee the Palestinian Arab people the right to sovereignty and national independence.
The occupation of Palestinian territory and parts of other Arab territory by Israeli forces, the uprooting of the majority of Palestinians and their displacement from their homes by means of organized intimidation, and the subjection of the remainder to occupation, oppression and the destruction of the distinctive features of their national life, are a flagrant violation of the principle of legitimacy and of the Charter of the United Nations and its resolutions recognizing the national rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to return and the right to self-determination, independence and sovereignty over the territory of its homeland.
In the heart of its homeland and on its periphery, in its places of exile near and far, the Palestinian Arab people has not lost its unwavering faith in its right to return nor its firm belief in its right to independence. Occupation, carnage and displacement have been unable to dispossess the Palestinians of their consciousness and their identity – their epic struggle has endured, and the formation of their national character has continued with the growing escalation of the struggle. The national will has established its political framework; and that is the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, as recognized by the international community and represented in the United Nations and its institutions and in other international and regional organizations. Founding itself on a belief in inalienable rights, on the Arab national consensus and on international legitimacy, the Palestine Liberation Organization has assumed leadership in the battles of a great people fused in an exemplary national unity and in a legendary and steadfast resistance to carnage and encirclement within its homeland and outside. To the Arab national consciousness and to that of the entire world, the epic of the Palestinian resistance has manifested itself as one of the most conspicuous national liberation movements of the age.
The great popular uprising now mounting in the occupied territories, together with the legendary steadfastness of the camps within and outside the homeland, have raised mankind’s grasp of the true nature of the Palestinian issue and of Palestinian national rights to a level higher than that of full and mature comprehension, have brought down the final curtain on an entire epoch of falsification and conscientious indifference and have beleaguered the official Israeli mentality, prone as it is to appeal to arguments based on mythology and to resort to intimidation in its denial of Palestinian existence.
With the uprising, with the escalation of the revolutionary struggle and with the accumulation of revolutionary experience wherever the struggle is in progress, the Palestinian conjuncture reaches a sharp historical turning point. The Palestinian Arab people asserts once more its inalienable rights and its demand to exercise those rights in its Palestinian homeland.
By virtue of the natural, historical and legal right of the Palestinian Arab people to its homeland, Palestine, and of the sacrifices of its succeeding generations in defence of the freedom and independence of that homeland,
Pursuant to the resolutions of the Arab Summit Conferences and on the basis of the international legitimacy embodied in the resolutions of the United Nations since 1947, and
Through the exercise by the Palestinian Arab people of its right to self-determination, political independence and sovereignty over its territory:
The Palestine National Council hereby declares, in the Name of God and on behalf of the Palestinian Arab people, the establishment of the State of Palestine in the land of Palestine with its capital at Jerusalem.
The State of Palestine shall be for Palestinians, wherever they may be therein to develop their national and cultural identity and therein to enjoy full equality of rights. Their religious and political beliefs and human dignity shall therein be safeguarded under a democratic parliamentary system based on freedom of opinion and the freedom to form parties, on the heed of the majority for minority rights and the respect of minorities for majority decisions, on social justice and equality, and on non-discrimination in civil rights on grounds of race, religion or colour or as between men and women, under a Constitution ensuring the rule of law and an independent judiciary and on the basis of true fidelity to the age-old spiritual and cultural heritage of Palestine with respect to mutual tolerance, coexistence and magnanimity among religions.
The State of Palestine shall be an Arab State and shall be an integral part of the Arab nation, of its heritage and civilization and of its present endeavour for the achievement of the goals of liberation, development, democracy and unity. In affirming its commitment to the Pact of the League of Arab States and its concern for the strengthening of joint Arab action, the State of Palestine calls upon the members of the Arab nation for their assistance in achieving its de facto emergence by mobilizing their capacities and intensifying the efforts made to bring the Israeli occupation to an end.
The State of Palestine declares its commitment to the purposes and principles of the United Nations, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to the policy and principles of non-alignment.
The State of Palestine, in declaring that it is a peace-loving State committed to the principles of peaceful coexistence, shall strive, together with all other States and peoples, for the achievement of a lasting peace based on justice and respect for rights, under which the human potential for constructive activity may flourish, mutual competition may centre on life-sustaining innovation and there is no fear for the future, since the future bears only assurance for those who have acted justly or made amends to justice.
In the context of its struggle to bring peace to a land of peace and love, the State of Palestine calls upon the United Nations, which bears a special responsibility towards the Palestinian Arab people and its homeland, and upon the peace-loving States and peoples of the world and those that cherish freedom to assist it in achieving its goals, in bringing the plight of its people to an end, in ensuring the safety and security of that people and in endeavouring to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
The State of Palestine further declares, in that connection, that it believes in the solution of international and regional problems by peaceful means in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the resolutions adopted by it, and that, without prejudice to its natural right to defend itself, it rejects the threat or use of force, violence and intimidation against its territorial integrity and political independence or those of any other State.
On this momentous day, the fifteenth day of November 1988, as we stand on the threshold of a new era, we bow our heads in deference and humility to the departed souls of our martyrs and the martyrs of the Arab nation who, by virtue of the pure blood shed by them, have lit the glimmer of this auspicious dawn and who have died so that the homeland might live. We lift up our hearts so that they may be filled with light from the radiance of the hallowed uprising, of the epic resistance of those in the camps, in the dispersion and in exile, and of those who have borne the manner of freedom: our children, our elders and our youth; our prisoners, detainees and wounded based on the hallowed soil and in every camp, village and city; the valiant Palestinian women, the guardians of our life and our survival and keepers of our eternal flame. To the spirits of our righteous martyrs, to the masses of our Palestinian Arab people and our Arab nation and to all free and honourable men, we give our solemn pledge to continue the struggle for an end to the occupation and the establishment of sovereignty and independence. We call upon our great people to rally to the Palestinian flag, to take pride in it and to defend it so that it shall remain forever a symbol of our freedom and dignity in a homeland that shall be forever free and the abode of a people of free men.
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
“Say: ‘O God, Master of the Kingdom, Thou givest the Kingdom
to whom Thou wilt, and seizest the Kingdom from whom Thou wilt,
Thou exaltest whom Thou wilt, and Thou abasest whom Thou wilt;
in Thy hand is the good; Thou art powerful over everything …”
Almighty God has spoken the truth
Source: http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/6EB54A389E2DA6C6852560DE0070E392 (scroll down the page until ‘Annex III’)
Human Rights, Self-Determination and Political Change in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, International Studies in Human Rights, Stephen Bowen, Ed., The Hague, The Netherlands: Kluwer Law International, 1997.