Annulment Not Legal, But Netanyahu Congratulates PA

Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday congratulated the Palestinians on having annulled the clauses of the PLO charter calling for Israel's destruction. He called the move a historic and important act, but only one of many that the Palestinians must do." However, several Knesset Members noted that yesterday's voice vote by a gathering of Palestinian VIPs in Gaza cannot be termed an official annulment of the charter. Article 33 of the charter itself states: "This Charter shall not be amended save by [vote of] a majority of two-thirds of the total membership of the National Congress of the Palestine Liberation Organization [taken] at a special session convened for that purpose." The following elements in yesterday's vote voided its legal value:
  • There are 727 members of the Congress, and only 456 members were present - 29 members short of the required two-thirds.
  • The issue of the vote was never clearly formulated. Instead, the participants simply raised their hands and cheered when Arafat asked, "I turn to you, to all of you, to support the letter I sent to Clinton and to recognize the decisions that we have made for the peace. Will you raise your hands to [do so]?" No specific clauses were annulled.
  • An official count of the votes was not carried out.
  • This was not an official session of the PNC called for this purpose.

Netanyahu's press aide David Bar Illan, when asked about the doubtful legality of the vote, dodged the question of why Israel is validating it, and said, "If the Palestinians now want to raise legalistic points and renege on their annulment, it will be very hard for them to do so, because the whole world saw what happened yesterday and all the news stations

around the world are talking about it."

Bar Illan said, "They did not do anyone a favor yesterday by voiding their charter. After all, it was simply a call for the destruction of a nation; what could be more immoral than that? Their repeal of it is the first respectable thing they've done in a long time, and it's a disgrace that they didn't do it five years ago… But we don't owe them any thanks for it.

What is important is that this change enter the consciousness of the other Arab nations." He concluded, "They still have other commitments to carry out, which I don't see them wanting to fulfill, let alone actually fulfilling."

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