- Palestine Liberation Organization
- (PLO)An organization originally created and established by the Arab League in 1964 that claims to represent the Palestinian people wherever they may live. Its original leader was Ahmed Shukeiri, but after the Six-Day War (1967) and the substantial Israeli victory with its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Yasser Arafat took over the leadership of Fatah, the largest faction, and subsequently of the PLO. He remained its chairman until his death in November 2004 and was the international representative and symbol of the PLO. He gave voice to its demands and guided its overall direction and policy.Israel's relationship with the PLO was slow to develop inasmuch as it was viewed by most Israelis as a terrorist organization bent on Israel's destruction. For many years, it was illegal for Israelis to have any contact with anyone suspected of membership in the PLO or the PLO's governing body, the Palestine National Council (PNC). The majority of Israelis were unmoved by the November 1988 resolution passed by the PNC declaring an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel conditioned its participation in the Madrid Middle East Peace Conference on the Palestinian delegation being comprised of individuals ostensibly unaffiliated with the PLO and subsumed within a joint delegation with the Jordanians.The first substantive change in policy occurred in January 1993, when the Knesset passed legislation lifting the ban on innocent contacts with PLO members. The next breakthrough came on 9 September 1993, when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chairman Arafat exchanged letters of recognition. In the Declaration of Principles (13 September 1993), Israel and the PLO outlined the terms of reference for achieving a negotiated permanent settlement of their dispute and began to gradually implement those terms of reference. In January 1996, Arab residents of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem elected a Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and executive committee, headed by President Arafat. With this election, responsibility for areas of the West Bank and Gaza ceded to Palestinian control was transferred from the PLO to the Palestinian Authority (PA), but the PLO was still considered the effective sovereign authority in these areas as well as the representative of Palestinians residing outside of the West Bank and Gaza.Upon Arafat's death in a hospital near Paris, France, on 11 November 2004, control of the PLO fell to the long-time head of its executive committee, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). On 9 January 2005, Abbas was elected to succeed Arafat as president of the PA; effective control of the PLO then fell to the Tunisian-based Farouk Kaddoumi in his capacity as Arafat's successor as chair of both the PLO central committee and the mainstream Fatah. The PLO and Fatah lost control of the PLC to Hamas in the January 2006 Palestinian legislative elections. Fatah (representing the PLO) and Hamas achieved a Saudi-brokered power-sharing agreement in February 2007, but Fatah lost control of the Gaza Strip to Hamas in an armed confrontation in June 2007. While Abbas retained the presidency of the PA, his power, influence, and credibility and that of the PLO were severely compromised.
Historical Dictionary of Israel. Bernard Reich David H. Goldberg. Edited by Jon Woronoff..