Lecture on the Establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization

Lecture on the Establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization


Within the series of introducing the Palestine Liberation Organization prepared and presented by

Dr. Essam Adwan

(Watch the lecture on the emergence of the Palestine Liberation Organization)

How Palestinian Entities Were Founded:


The Palestinian people have always produced their leadership bodies through popular conferences, as follows:


  • The Third Palestinian Conference met on 13-19/12/1920 as a popular conference attended by a group of leaders of the Palestinian people. It resulted in the formation of a leadership body called: “Executive Committee for the Leadership of the National Movement”. This Executive Committee was renewed at each subsequent Palestinian conference. Until its president, Musa Kazem al-Husseini, was martyred in early 1934, Where her contract broke up.


  • In April 1936, the patriots met in Nablus and established a national committee that called for a comprehensive and open strike and called for the establishment of national committees in all cities of Palestine. Then the parties collapsed and met with the national committees in what looks like a popular conference of elite Palestinian leaders. Resulted in the establishment of the Arab Higher Committee, which led the Palestinian people and managed the famous strike and the Great Revolution, Recognized by the British occupation authorities, Until it was dissolved in 1938. But it resumed its work after World War II and after the establishment of the Arab League under the name: “Arab Higher Commission” in 1946. She obtained British recognition and was invited by the United Nations to attend sessions discussing the Palestinian cause and the partition project in 1947.


  • On 1/10/1948, the Palestinian Conference was held in Gaza at the invitation of the Arab Higher Committee. It served as a People’s Conference, resulted in the formation of the All-Palestine Government, Those present considered themselves to be the national council of this Government. Thus, a third and new leadership body of the Palestinian people was formed.


  • After the death of the President of the All-Palestine Government, Ahmed Helmy Pasha, In late 1963, Ahmed Shugairi was assigned to represent Palestine in the Arab League. He was then tasked with working on the formation of a Palestinian entity, He called for a Palestinian conference in Jerusalem, Formed a preparatory committee, Invitations were sent to 420 Palestinian legal persons, As: Members of the governing bodies of parties, Presidents of the Unions, and heads of banks, business, tribal and clan elders, intellectuals, and the like. In their meeting in Jerusalem on 28/5/1964, they decided to establish the Palestine Liberation Organization. and adopted a national charter for it, They adopted its Statute. Whereas its Statutes provide for a National Council to elect the Chairman of the Executive Committee, Those present considered themselves: They are the Palestinian National Council, They considered their meeting that: First session of this Council, They elected Shugairi as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Organization. Thus, the fourth leading body in the history of the Palestinian people was formed, emanating from a popular conference as well.

Fatah plan to control the organization:

With the formation of the preparatory committees for the first Palestinian conference held in Jerusalem on 28/5/1964, The Fatah leadership developed a program entitled “The Movement and the Proposed Entity” to tighten its control over the emerging entity after realizing that it had become a reality that must be recognized and filled with revolutionary elements who believe in the Fatah line and the armed revolution. The program came in a confidential bulletin addressed to regulators, special levels, district commanders and wing commanders, That program was open to internal discussion within a week of being communicated to members and included six points, The main ones are:


  • To seek by every means to control the National Assembly by a numerical majority, As an entrance to tighten control over the entity in all respects. And negotiate with Ahmed Shugairi to ensure a majority for Fatah in the revolutionary work in the entity.


  • Standing without the isolation of the emerging entity in Palestinian action, By creating federations and trade unions and concluding bilateral agreements with other Palestinian communities.


  • Intensifying Fatah’s activities in the vicinity of the occupied territories under the cover of the entity.


  • Amend the National Charter and Articles of Association of the Organization in line with Fatah’s principles; And to ensure the independence of the entity.


  • Continued attempts to win over one of the Arab countries neighboring the occupied territories to support Fatah.
Fatah tried to convince Ahmed al-Shuqairi that the entity would be ineffective if it did not enjoy the support of the grassroots. He was offered secret cooperation. But her efforts failed; Shugairi was linked to the politics of Arab countries. He seems to have been convinced by the idea of the Arab countries that the next battle with the enemy is a blitzkrieg battle that depends on regular armies. After visiting an Arab military airport and seeing modern MiGs and guns, he was apparently not convinced of what Fatah could offer him.



The First Palestinian Conference approved the National Charter and the Basic Statute providing for the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Army linked to the unified Arab leadership. The Second Arab Summit in September 1964 recognized the PLO and the Palestine Liberation Army.



The Palestine Liberation Army was established with three brigades or forces: Qadisiyah forces in Iraq, And the forces of Hattin in Syria, and the forces of Ain Jalut in Egypt and the Gaza Strip, Lieutenant Colonel Wajih al-Madani was assigned to lead the army after being promoted by an Arab decision to the rank of major general. The Arab states retained their guardianship over the PLO through the unified Arab leadership, which required Shuqairi to coordinate with it in any military action. This led to his complete paralysis.



Shugairi came out of the Fourth Arab Summit Conference in Khartoum in September 1967, believing that the path after defeat must differ from it before the defeat, and as long as the PLO was established for liberation – before the defeat – as part of the summit plan to liberate Palestine, it must adhere to its goal after the defeat of 1967, not become part of the Khartoum Conference plan to remove the effects of aggression, Shugairi says: “I did not believe in this path in my mind and experience. It rejected Security Council Resolution [242] and the Arab rule began to demand its implementation, considering it a national demand, and deceiving the Arab masses.” Therefore, Shugairi thought of rebuilding the Palestinian entity in two frameworks: a public framework, which is the organization, and the other is secret, which handles the revolution and acts of resistance to occupation. He began contacts with a number of Palestinians in this regard and sought to establish a revolutionary council that would mobilize the Palestinian and Arab people for the liberation battle.


Shugairi had sent 18 officers from the Liberation Army from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. to the occupied territory to start creating cells trained in weapons and guerrilla warfare. On 21/11/1967, Shugairi announced that the PLO supports guerrilla action in terms of arming, financing, planning and training. It believes in the need to escalate guerrilla action according to a deliberate plan leading to the People’s Liberation War. Proceeding from the importance of the unity of the armed struggle, I announce that the organization will call for a meeting of all Palestinian organizations to develop a comprehensive plan through which all struggle energies gather under one leadership. In late 1967, the PLA leadership established the Popular Liberation Forces as a commando force that contributed to the resistance, unifying the resistance force, and escalating its operations. On 7/12/1967, the PLO announced the formation of the “Revolutionary Command Council for the Liberation of Palestine” to work on the unity of the armed struggle under one command. This followed a military conference held in the occupied territories that brought together guerrilla commanders and militants across the country. Fatah denied knowledge of this military conference and its outcome.


With the many Arab and Palestinian criticisms directed at Shuqairi, Egyptian sources have offered their willingness to embrace the coming of Fatah to lead the organization. In a meeting between Fatah leaders and President Nasser, He advised them to cooperate with Palestinian armed organizations and support small ones. From this view, it is possible to understand Fatah’s behavior with the PLO from late 1967 until its formation of the backbone of the Fourth Palestinian National Council.


With the resignation of Shugairi, Yahya Hammouda assumed the acting presidency of the organization, Decided to seek to include the Palestinian factions in the organization, He held negotiations with Fatah for this purpose. Fatah adopted the idea of the “backbone” to serve as the leading force, Decisions are not taken by a majority vote, Rather, according to the size and effectiveness of the faction that puts forward its opinion, Hence, Fatah will have the decision in force in what it sees as the backbone of the PLO.



The fifth session of the Palestinian National Council in Cairo 1-4/2/1969 brought the Fatah leadership to the Executive Committee of the PLO. Fatah’s official spokesman was chosen. Yasser Arafat as Chairman of the Executive Committee, Since then, Fatah has begun to infiltrate PLO institutions.
12354-240x300 Lecture on the Establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization
Lecture on the Establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization-2 Al-Sharq Center for Research and Culture – Issam Adwan
At the beginning of the establishment of the PLO, there were six departments, which the organization entrusted to the Executive Committee to form it, and the departments were as follows:


1- Military Department.


2- Department of Research and Private Institutions.


3- Department of the Palestinian National Fund.


4. Department of Administrative Affairs.


5. Any department that the Executive Committee deems necessary to establish.


After that, the departments of the organization were crystallized to be as follows:


1- The political department.


2- Military Department.


3- Fund Department.


4. Department of Occupied Homeland Affairs.


5- Department of Education and Higher Education.


6- Department of National Relations.


7- Department of Information and Culture.


8. Department of People’s Organization.


9. Department of Social Affairs.


10. Department of Administrative Affairs.


11. Department of Refugee Affairs.


12. Negotiations Department.


PLO factions


The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) consists of several factions:


Main factions:


1- The Palestinian National Liberation Movement “Fatah“.


2- Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.


3- Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.


4 Palestinian People’s Party.


Other factions:


5- Popular Struggle Front.


6- Palestine Liberation Front.


7- The Arab-Palestinian Front.


8- Thunderbolt Organization.


9- The Palestinian Communist Party-Revolutionary.


10- Arab Liberation Front.


11- Islamic Jihad Movement – Al-Aqsa Brigades (a small organization other than the currently known Jihad Movement).


12- Palestinian Democratic Union Party – Fida.


It should be noted that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are not factions of the Palestine Liberation Organization and that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command has withdrawn their membership.


PLO Political Framework


Palestinian National Council:


The number of members has grown from 397 in the first round to approximately 783, of whom 650 hold civilian and military positions in the Palestinian Authority, making it not playing the role of accountability and accountability.


The most prominent speakers of the National Assembly were: Ahmed Al-Shuqairi, Abdul Mohsen Qattan, Yahya Hamouda, Khaled Al-Fahoum, Abdul Hamid Al-Saih, Salim Al-Zanoun.


Palestinian Central Council:


It was established at the eleventh session of the National Assembly in 1973, to assist the Executive Committee in implementing the decisions of the National Assembly and to link between the National Assembly and the Executive Committee.


Executive Committee:


According to the Basic Law, the following departments are affiliated to it:


1- The political department.
2- Economic Department.
3- Department of Social Affairs.
4- Media Department.
5. Department of Education.
6- Department of People’s Organizations.


The Executive Committee has 15 members and will be increased to 18 starting from the twenty-first session of the National Assembly.

Source: Dr. Essam Adwan, Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah) 1958-1968, pp. 226-236


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