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Palestinian Prisoners' Document

Palestinian Prisoners' Document

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The "Prisoners' Document," officially the National Reconciliation Document, is a document written in 2006 by Palestinian prisoners
Palestinian prisoners
Palestinian prisoners in Israel mainly refers to Palestinians imprisoned in Israel following apprehension resulting from the Israeli–Palestinian conflict...

 who were being held in Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i jails at the time. The five prisoners who took part in writing the Document were affiliated with Fatah
Fataḥ is a major Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization , a multi-party confederation. In Palestinian politics it is on the left-wing of the spectrum; it is mainly nationalist, although not predominantly socialist. Its official goals are found...

, Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

, Islamic Jihad
Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine
The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine known in the West as simply Palestinian Islamic Jihad , is a small Palestinian militant organization. The group has been labelled as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia and Israel...

, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is a Palestinian Marxist-Leninist organisation founded in 1967. It has consistently been the second-largest of the groups forming the Palestine Liberation Organization , the largest being Fatah...

 (PFLP), and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine is a Palestinian Marxist-Leninist, secular political and military organization. It is also frequently referred to as the Democratic Front, or al-Jabha al-Dimuqratiyah...


The Prisoners' Document

The Prisoners' Document consists of 18 points, and calls for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders and the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

, Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

, and East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem or Eastern Jerusalem refer to the parts of Jerusalem captured and annexed by Jordan in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and then captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War...

. The first version of the Document has been interpreted by some as implicitly recognizing Israel's right to exist
Right to exist
The right to exist is said to be an attribute of nations. According to an essay by the nineteenth century French philosopher Ernest Renan, a state has the right to exist when individuals are willing to sacrifice their own interests for the community it represents. Unlike self-determination, the...

, as opposed to the Hamas charter of 1988, which calls for Israel's destruction. Palestinian Authority
Palestinian National Authority
The Palestinian Authority is the administrative organization established to govern parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip...

 President Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas , also known by the kunya Abu Mazen , has been the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation since 11 November 2004 and became President of the Palestinian National Authority on 15 January 2005 on the Fatah ticket.Elected to serve until 9 January 2009, he unilaterally...

 called for a national referendum on the Prisoners' Document on July 26, 2006, if Fatah and Hamas could not reach a negotiated settlement. Initially, Hamas leaders dismissed Abbas' calls for a referendum on the Document as "illegal" and vowed to boycott it. However, Hamas later agreed to negotiate with Fatah on the contents of the Document, and an agreement was reached on June 27, 2006. One poll in June 2006 showed that 77% of Palestinians supported the Prisoners' Document, but another poll that month showed that only 47% would vote for it in a referendum. Before Hamas and Fatah reached their agreement, the Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners who had helped draft the Document retracted their names and withdrew support from it in protest at Mahmoud Abbas' decision to hold a referendum based on the plan; they stated that Abbas was exploiting the Document for political purposes.

President Abbas sought to use the Prisoners' Document as the basis for final status negotiations with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert is an Israeli politician and lawyer. He served as Prime Minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009, as a Cabinet Minister from 1988 to 1992 and from 2003 to 2006, and as Mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003....

 dismissed the Document, however, and described it as "meaningless". Olmert claimed that the Document was out of touch with the internationally recognized conditions, because it calls for the right of return
Right of return
The term right of return refers to a principle of international law, codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, giving any person the right to return to, and re-enter, his or her country of origin...

 for Palestinian refugees
Palestinian right of return
The Palestinian right of return is a political position or principle asserting that Palestinian refugees, both first-generation refugees and their descendants, have a right to return, and a right to the property they or their forebears left or which they were forced to leave in what is now Israel...

 and full Israeli withdrawal from all parts of the West Bank.

Controversy and Ambiguity

Much of the controversy regarding the Prisoners' Document hinged on whether the Document recognizes Israel. While the Prisoners' Document does not explicitly recognize the right of Israel to exist, it does explicitly embrace the idea of a Palestinian state solely on pre-1967 boundaries. Point #1 states that "The Palestinian people in the homeland and in the Diaspora seek ... to establish their independent state with al-Quds al-Shareef [Jerusalem] as its capital on all territories occupied in 1967".

Hamas has advocated for a Palestinian state in the 1948 boundaries presently occupied by the state of Israel as well as the 1967 occupied territories. Thus, the Document was described as a historical renunciation of Hamas' claim to a Palestinian state on all of the historic Mandatory Palestine territory.

See also

  • Arab-Israeli conflict
  • Proposals for a Palestinian state
    Proposals for a Palestinian state
    Proposals for a Palestinian state currently refers to the proposed establishment of an independent state for the Palestinian people in Palestine on land that was occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967 and before by Egypt and by Jordan since 1949...

  • Palestine Liberation Organization
    Palestine Liberation Organization
    The Palestine Liberation Organization is a political and paramilitary organization which was created in 1964. It is recognized as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" by the United Nations and over 100 states with which it holds diplomatic relations, and has enjoyed...

  • Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas

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