Palestinian Prisoners' Document

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The Prisoners' Document, officially the National Conciliation Document, is a document written in 2006 by Palestinian prisoners who were being held in Israeli jails at the time. The five prisoners who took part in writing the Document were affiliated with Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP)1


As mentioned in the document itself (second paragraph), its describing name is "the National Conciliation Document". The document is usually referred to as "The National Conciliation Document of the Prisoners" or shortly "The Prisoners' Document".2 The last two names refer to the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli imprisonment who wrote and signed the document.

Two versions

On 11 May 2006, the original version of the Prisoner‘s Document was presented. It was signed by leaders of Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), on behalf of the members of the factions in Israeli jails.

After Abbas had announced a referendum over the Prisoner‘s Document, the prisoner representatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad retracted their support to protest.3 The factions then negotiated over the Document and on 28 June, a revised version was signed. The most radical faction, Islamic Jihad, expressed reservations on the clause pertaining to the negotiations.

The Prisoners' Document

The Prisoners' Document was written when the first Hamas-led PA Government had been in power for 6 weeks and tensions between Fatah and Hamas were very high under pressure of international sanctions. The Document consists of 18 points. It calls for conciliation between Palestinian factions and development and reactivation of the PLO, based on the Cairo Declaration of March 2005.4 The Cairo Declaration sought reinforcement of the status of the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people through the participation of all forces and factions to it according to democratic principles. It implied a reform of the PLO,5 which would mean the inclusion of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The Prisoners' Document recalls the struggle to liberate their land. Point 1 reads:

″The Palestinian people in the homeland and in the Diaspora seek and struggle to liberate their land and remove the settlements and evacuate the settlers and remove the apartheid and annexation and separation wall and to achieve their right to freedom, return and independence and to exercise their right to self-determination, including the right to establish their independent state with al-Quds al-Shareef as its capital on all territories occupied in 1967, and to secure the right of return for Palestinian refugees to their homes and properties from which they were evicted and to compensate them and to liberate all prisoners and detainees without any discrimination and all of this is based on the historical right of our people on the land of our forefathers and based on the UN Charter and international law and legitimacy in a way that does not affect the rights of our people.″

Point 2 recalls the 2005 Cairo Declaration about reform and reinforcement of the PLO as representative of Palestinians "wherever they are". It also calls for a new Palestinian National Council through elections before the end of 2006 to represent "all Palestinian national and Islamic forces, factions and parties and all sectors of our people".

Point 7 recognizes negotiations adhering to national goals as mentioned in the document, and falling within the jurisdiction of the PLO and the President of the Palestinian Authority. Any agreement needs ratification by the newly elected National Council, or subjected to a general referendum to be held in the homeland and the Diaspora.

The document further mentions the right to resist the occupation by various means, focussed in the territories occupied in 1967, in tandem with political action, negotiations and diplomacy. It recognizes the role of the PNA. A national unity government is to be formed and UN Resolution 194 to be implemented. Liberation of the prisoners and detainees is a sacred national duty.

Point 16 calls for a restructure of the security system, organize its tasks towards both confronting the aggression and the occupation and law and order within the Palestinian society. Weapons that harm the resistance and distort its image should be confiscated, and security forces and the resistance be coordinated.6


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for a national referendum on the Prisoners' Document on July 26, 2006, if Fatah and Hamas could not reach a negotiated settlement.7 Initially, Hamas leaders dismissed Abbas' calls for a referendum on the Document as "illegal" and vowed to boycott it.8 However, Hamas later agreed to negotiate with Fatah on the contents of the Document, and an agreement was reached on June 27, 2006.910 One poll in June 2006 showed that 77% of Palestinians supported the Prisoners' Document,11 but another poll that month showed that only 47% would vote for it in a referendum.12 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.3 President Abbas sought to use the Prisoners' Document as the basis for final status negotiations with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert dismissed the Document, however, and described it as "meaningless".13dead linkcitation needed

Interpretations of the Document

One of the questions regarding the Prisoners' Document hinged on whether it 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".

See also


  1. ^ First version, 11 May 2006
  2. ^ Letter dated 7 July 2006 from the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations. United Nations, A/ES-10/345 d.d. 10 July 2006
  3. ^ a b Hamas-led PA Parliament Defers Decision on Abbas' Referendum. Avi Issacharof, Associated Press, 1 June 2006
  4. ^ Text of the 2005 Cairo Declaration. Palestine Media Center
  5. ^ PFLP and DFLP urge Abbas to preserve the Cairo declaration, honour the call for PLO reform. Maan News Agency, 20 July 2007
  6. ^ Second version. 28 June 2006
  7. ^ "Israel nabs 2; Palestinian leaders talk". Newsday. June 25, 2006. dead link
  8. ^ Roger Hardy (June 8, 2006). "Abbas risks all with vote strategy". BBC News. Retrieved August 6, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Highlights of the Hamas Fatah Agreement". The Boston Globe. June 27, 2006. Retrieved August 6, 2014. 
  10. ^ Avi Issacharoff; Shlomi Shamir (June 18, 2006). "Fatah, Hamas reach agreement on division of security forces". Haaretz. Retrieved August 6, 2006. 
  11. ^ Avi Issacharoff (June 7, 2006). "Poll: 77 percent of Palestinians support the prisoners' document". Haaretz. Archived from the original on September 2, 2006. 
  12. ^ "Poll: Only 47 percent of Palestinians would vote for prisoners". Haaretz. June 19, 2006. dead link
  13. ^ "Olmert's Mission". Cape Times. June 11, 2006. 

External links