From Palestine Facts:
What led to the founding of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964?
In 1964 the Arab League, a loose confederation of fourteen Arab countries including Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, met in Cairo and established a political body to deal directly with the problem of the Palestinian Arabs. They called it the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
The PLO’s first leader was an Egyptian, Ahmed Shukairy. He coined the organization’s famous slogan about “driving the Jews into the sea.”
He is also remembered for saying on May 31, 1956, to the UN Security Council:
It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria.
So what were they “liberating”? From whom? There were no “occupied territories” and no “illegal settlements” at that time, and Jordan controlled East Jerusalem. The PLO was intent on the destruction of Israel without any of the causes or reasons they now claim are fundamental. Their emblem includes a map — Israel is part of their concept of Palestine.
The PLO’s founding congress took place in May 1964 in East Jerusalem, then annexed by Jordan. The organization’s charter — Palestinian National Covenant — called for the destruction of the Zionist state and for the establishment of a “Palestinian entity”. The Arab League chose the word “entity” as a concession to the Egyptians and the Jordanians, who felt that a sovereign Palestinian state would threaten their own existence. Despite the use of the word Liberation, nothing and nobody was being liberated — the only real goal was to destroy Israel, then and now.
Later claims that the West Bank or Gaza are “historic Palestine” are demolished by Article 24 of the PLO Charter, which states in part:
This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, [or] on the Gaza Strip…
This makes it crystal clear: the PLO views Israel as its target. Anything else, like the West Bank or Gaza, is merely a tactical sideshow. The PLO was actually an umbrella organization for various other factions:
— Fatah, the largest, was founded in 1956 by a group of young Gazans. It was, and still is, the military arm of the PLO. Among the young terrorists was Yasser Arafat. By 1968 Arafat was al Fatah’s leader and he has been chairman of the PLO since 1968. Among the offshoots of Fatah was the infamous Black September who massacred the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
— The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was the second largest of the commando groups. It was founded in 1967 by George Habash. The PFLP carried out some spectacular skyjackings in the 1970. But 30+ years does not diminish their thirst for Jewish blood. In October or 2001, several of their operatives murdered the Israeli Government Minister Rechavam “Ghandi” Ze´evi.
— The Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine split from the PFLP which it accused of not being militant enough. This group carried out the terrorist raid on Ma’alot in May of 1974 in which 21 young Israeli school children were murdered.
— The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command was another splinter group of the PFLP They were responsible for the 1974 incursion into Northern Israel in which 16 residents of Kiryat Shemona were murdered.
— Al Saiqa was formed by Syria in 1967 and most of its terror participants were Palestinian refugees who fled to Syria during the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israel wars.
— The Arab Liberation Front, a minor player in the terrorism against Israel.
True to the Covenant, since its founding, the organization has sponsored innumerable guerrilla raids on Israeli civilian and military targets and has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians.
The founding documents and program of the PLO illuminate the fundamental dishonesty of their later negotiating position. If the “occupation” of the West Bank and Gaza by Israel is the obstacle to peace, as has been endlessly proclaimed by Arafat and others, what was the motivation to create the PLO to strike at Israel at a time when Israel had no role in those territories? Why did the PLO and other Arab terrorist groups continually attack Israel at that time? If Jerusalem is so important to the Palistinian Arabs, why is it that the Palestinian National Covenant of 1964, does not even once mention Jerusalem?
Sources and additional reading on this topic:
The PLO: Background Briefing
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
If I Forget Thee: Does Jerusalem Really Matter to Islam?
The Palestine National Charter
Letter dated 27 July 1998 from the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations
Palestine Liberation Organizaion