At a time Arafat has been hailed as a man of peace and awarded Nobel prizes, he has actually steered the PLO and the Palestinian Arabs toward a much more dangerous religious confrontation, calling for an Islamic holy war against Israel.
The US Congress is considering a bill requiring President Bill Clinton to provide a copy of the long-awaited revised Palestinian Covenant before he may give further US aid to the PA. The PLO has repeatedly agreed to amend the covenant to delete all calls for the elimination of Israel (affecting as many as 30 out of 33 articles). Although it has never presented such a revised covenant, it appears from the Palestinian Legislature's draft "Basic Law", or constitution, presumably for the "transitional period" to statehood (see Internet site: http://www.pal-plc.org/laws.htm) that the PLO is headed in the wrong direction.
The PLO Covenant was adopted in 1964 and amended following the Six Day War. It reflects a mixture of Pan-Arab nationalism (anti-colonial, anti-Western sentiment championed by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser) and marxist revolutionary doctrine (in deference to the Soviet and Chinese communist sponsorship). Inspired by the successes of guerrilla warfare in Algeria, Vietnam and elsewhere, the PLO adopted "armed struggle" as the only means for eliminating the Zionist entity and achieving Palestinian self-determination. The Covenant also mimicked the assertions of Israel's own Declaration of Independence of May 14, 1948 in presenting its rival and exclusive claim to the same lands.
Interestingly, the PLO Covenant, and most PLO rhetoric of the time, makes no mention whatsoever of "Islam", "Allah", "jihad", "Jerusalem", and so many other battle cries now dominating PLO propaganda.
But the PA's transitional "constitution"? The Preamble begins with "In the Name of Allah the Merciful, the Compassionate", as does the Hamas Covenant. It says Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine. It declares Islam as the official religion in Palestine. It cites Islamic shar'ia law as a source of legislation. Oaths of public office are sworn to "Allah Almighty". [Other troubling provisions: The president is to serve for the entire "transitional period" and is "the Commander-in-Chief of the Palestinian Forces"; surrender (extradition) of any Palestinian to a "foreign entity" [Israel] is prohibited (a direct contradiction of Oslo).
This reflects the change in PLO chairman Yasser Arafat's speeches and PLO rhetoric overall since the PLO leader nearly lost control of the intifada to Hamas and other Islamist groups. At a time Arafat has been hailed as a man of peace and awarded Nobel prizes, he has actually steered the PLO and the Palestinian Arabs toward a much more dangerous religious confrontation, calling for an Islamic holy war against Israel.
Consider that the PLO Covenant stated: "The destiny of the Arab nation, indeed the very Arab existence, depends on the destiny of the Palestine issue The people of Palestine assumes its vanguard role in realising this sacred national aim." (emphasis added) At the Rabat Conference in 1974, the PLO declared its objective was "a democratic, secular Palestinian state".
Now Arafat invokes Qur'anic verses in a prophetic sense to place the Palestinian on the "front line of battle" for Islam, saying: "They [Palestinians] shall stand on the front line until the final day."
Recall Arafat's speech of May 10, 1994 in a Johannesburg mosque: "The jihad will continue, and Jerusalem is not [just] for the Palestinian people, it is for all the Muslim people We are in need of you as Muslims, as mujaheddin [warriors of jihad] Again I have to say, 'and they entered the mosque as they entered it before'. Onward to victory, onward to Jerusalem! They will enter the mosque as they have entered it before." This is another Qur'anic prophecy invoked by Arafat.
And this from Arafat's speech to his Fatah faction on August 5, following the Jerusalem marketplace suicide bombing: "[L]et us commit ourselves before Allah and the Palestinian people that we shall lead the coming battle as we have led previous battles the Palestinian people is faithful to its oath, the one we swore upon the first day when the initial shot was fired and the first of our martyrs fell. I must say these things so that you will know where, how and in what direction our movement is heading. We are marching together with the blessing of Allah, my brothers, we are marching together to Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Jerusalem."
Significantly, the Hamas Covenant, published in 1988 stated: "The [PLO] is the closest to the heart of the Islamic Resistance Movement. It contains the father and the brother, the next of kin and the friend the [PLO] adopted the idea of the secular state we are unable to exchange the present or future Islamic Palestine with the secular idea The day the [PLO] adopts Islam as its way of life, we will become its soldiers, and fuel for its fire that will burn the enemies."