76 in House call on Fatah to abrogate charter


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Seventy-six members of the U.S. House of Representatives joined a call on Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas to abrogate what some claim to be the party’s 1966 charter.

The resolution, initiated last year by minority whip Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), urges Abbas, who is also the Palestinian Authority president, "to officially abrogate the 10 articles in the Fatah Constitution, which call for Israel’s destruction and terrorism against Israel, oppose any political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and label Zionism as racism.” The Palestine Liberation Organization charter is a separate document.

The Zionist Organization of America has led the lobbying to pass the nonbinding resolution. The 1966 charter the ZOA has circulated in that effort rejects Israel’s existence and upholds armed struggle as the means of replacing Israel with a secular Palestine. 

That version has appeared on a number of pro-Israel Web sites and on one Palestinian Web site not affiliated with Fatah. It has not otherwise been verified, but it closely echoes the PLO’s charter of the time and its wording is not untypical of the era.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s executive committee endorsed the ZOA’s effort earlier this year, and Likud Party opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu also backs efforts to change the Fatah charter.

News reports from 1989 show that Fatah abrogated its earlier charter that year, replacing it with a moderated version recognizing Israel. Those reports do not quote the earlier version’s text.

A text of a separate Fatah charter is not currently available in the West Bank, where "Fatah" and "PLO" have been pretty much synonymous since the late 1990s. 

Fatah Party officials have said that the Palestine National Council’s abrogation of the PLO charter in the 1990s extends to its constituent parties, including Fatah.

The fate of the nonbinding resolution is not clear; the House may yet reconvene in a lame-duck session. Otherwise the resolution lapses with next year’s new Congress.

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