What was the Algiers Declaration of a Palestinian State in 1988?
On November 15, 1988, a meeting of Palestine National Council was held in Algiers where Yasser Arafat declared Palestine as a state. Another such declaration was made in a meeting on October 1, 1948 in Gaza during the 1948 War of Independence, making the meeting of Algiers the second one for Palestine as a state. At the time, Algiers Declaration received much attention; however, both of these declarations stand quite irrelevant at present.
Algiers Declaration was presented almost a year after intifada was initiated and it showed an effort on the part of PLO to let all the parties know of their future intent. The declaration which was written by Mahmoud Darwish, a Palestinian poet, was most of all significant for its information of an independent Palestinian state. Moreover, the document stated its renunciation of violence from Palestine and also of terrorism directed towards Palestine. It was also a first time in Palestinian history to implicitly recognize Israel and admittance to coexist with Israel as an independent Palestinian state.
Where Palestine called for an independent state in Algiers Declaration, it also brought forward features benefiting Israel, contrary to the popular belief of Palestinian intransigence formed by Israel. To achieve independence, (“The State of Palestine is the state of Palestinians wherever they may be”) Palestine was ready to go to any lengths of negotiations. And for that, all the resolutions of United Nations concerning Israel-Palestine conflict were recognized in the Declaration, the major ones being UN Resolution 242 and UN Resolution 338. Resolution 242 was put forward to make Israel withdraw occupation on the territories it assumed in the Six Day War in 1967 and to make Palestine recognize Israel’s right to exist while Resolution 338 required immediate negotiations from both the parties for “a just and durable peace in the Middle East.”
To further their acceptance of the two previous UN Resolutions, Algiers Declaration showed:
- An agreement which would bring the permanent members of the Security Council and PLO to enter peace negotiations, to be held at an international conference under the flagship of the UN.
- Establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with clear acceptance of Israel as a state in the domain.
- Declaring its renunciation and reprobation of violence in all its forms.
- Demanding a solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees as the rules and practices of international law would have it.
The presentation of Declaration called in a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly where Yasser Arafat, Chairman of PLO, gave an address supporting the Declaration. A resolution “acknowledging the proclamation of the State of Palestine by the Palestine National Council on 15 November 1988,” was adopted at the UNGA conference, deciding further that “the designation ‘Palestine’ should be used in place of the designation ‘Palestine Liberation Organization’ in the United Nations system.” Votes of this resolution witnessed one hundred and four states in favor of it, forty-four abstaining, while only United States and Israel voting against it. UN decision regarding Palestine as an independent state also included an arrangement asking the replacement of “Palestine Liberation Organization” as “Palestine” for references in all UN bodies.