Palestine: documents

Documents on Israel/Palestine
A large collection of historical documents, from the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to the peace process of the early 2000s, can be found at the Avalon Project website (Yale University Law School).

Documents relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Another large collection (Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts)

Palestinian documents

Palestinian National Charter

Original version, 1964

Revised version, 1968

Letter from Yasser Arafat to Shimon Peres, May 1996
Regarding amendments to the charter

Letter From Yasser Arafat to President Clinton, January 1998
Regarding amendments to the charter

Hamas Covenant - 1988

Cairo Declaration - 7 November 1985
Statement on terrorism by Yasser Arafat

Yasser Arafat's address to the UN General Assembly
("Gun and olive branch" speech) - 13 November 1974

Yasser Arafat's address to the European Parliament
Strasbourg, 13 September 1988

Palestinian Declaration of Independence
Algiers, 15 Nov 1988

Palestine National Council: Political Communique
Algiers, 15 Nov 1988

Yasser Arafat's address to the UN General Assembly
13 December 1988

Yasser Arafat's address to the UN Security Council
Geneva, 25 May 1990

Palestinian plan for interim self-government
Washington, January 1992

United Nations and Palestine

Security Council Resolution 242 - 22 Nov 1967

Security Council Resolution 338 - 22 Oct 1973

Of the many UN resolutions relating to Israel and Palestine, resolutions 242 and 338 are the ones most often cited in connection with the conflict.

Resolution 242, which called for Israeli withdrawal following the 1967 war, is a famous example of "constructive ambiguity" in diplomacy – securing agreement (on paper) with a wording that both sides can interpret differently. The English version calls for Israeli withdrawal "from territories" occupied during the war (which doesn't necessarily mean all of them). The French version uses the phrase "des territoires" (which could mean all or some). Although the resolution does not explicitly call for withdrawal from all territory captured by Israel in 1967, this might be inferred from its preamble which talks about "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war".

Resolution 242 was also vague on the question of Palestinian refugees returning to their homes: itspoke about "a just settlement" of the problem, without elaborating. The earlier General Assembly Resolution 194, issued in 1948 following mass expulsions that led to the establishmentof Israel, was much more specific. It said:

"Refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible."

In the eyes of Palestinians, this established their "right of return".However, General Assembly resolutions are usually viewed as less significant than Security Council resolutions.

Collected Security Council resolutions
A large collection of Security Council resolutions on Israel/Palestine, between 1948 and 1994(Avalon Project)

Speeches to UN general assembly
(Relating to Palestinian application for recognition, 23 September 2011)

International diplomacy

Joint statement in Stockholm
(PLO delegation and a group of American Jews) - 7 December 1988

'New World Order'
President George Bush's address to Congress,6 March 1991

The Taba talks (January 2001)
Notes by EU envoy Miguel Moratinos. The Israeli-Palestinian talks held at Taba, Egypt, in January 2001 - shortly before the election of Ariel Sharon as Israeli prime minister - made good progress on many issues that had been left unresolved at the Camp David summit six months earlier.

Mitchell Commission (published 20 May, 2001)
Full text of the fact-finding committee's report mapped out a plan for a ceasefire and confidence-building measures, leading to a resumption of peace talks.

PLO response

Israeli response

The Tenet Plan (agreed 13 June, 2001)
Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire and security plan negotiated by CIA director George Tenet

Security Council Resolution 1397 (12 March 2002)

Zinni's ceasefire plan (submitted 26 March 2002)
Full text, plus Palestinian negotiators' critique of the document. Zinni's proposal would have allowed Israel to continue attacks Palestinian presidential buildings, security headquarters and prisons "in self-defence to an imminent terrorist attack".

The Arab Peace Initiative (28 March 2002)
Final version of the peace proposal initiated by Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and later approved by the Arab League at is summit in Beirut in March 2002. See documents from the summit:

The Beirut Declaration- final communique from the summit (extracts).

Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia- text of speech

Yasser Arafat- text of speech delivered by video link

Speech by President Bush (4 April 2002)
The president called on Israel to withdraw from Palestinian cities and outlined his goal of a "politically and economically viable" Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security.

Joint statement by the Quarteton the Middle East (10 April 2002)
By the US, EU, Russia and the United Nations

Arafat condemns terrorism (13 April 2002)
Text of statement that paved the way for a meeting with US Secretary of State Colin Powell

Statement by President Bush (24 June 2002)
The president called for new Palestinian institutions and new leaders

Middle East "road map"
Issued on 30 April 2003. Full text. PlusIsraeli reservations

Aqaba summit
Statements by King Abdullah, Ariel Sharon, Mahmoud Abbas and George Bush. 4 June 2003.

The Geneva Accord
Unofficial draft treaty negotiated by a group of Israelis and Palestinians. Issued October 2003.

End of mission report
Report by the UN's Middle East envoy, Alvaro de Soto, May 2007. The document was critical of the performance of the Quartet (see news report).

Speech by John Kerry, December 2016
Remarks by the US secretary of state following the approval of UN Security Council Resolution 2334.