Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed on 28th May 1964 and it was an off shoot of the Arab League. As the name of the organization suggests, the Arabs wanted liberation and their own homeland. They were struggling for their won against the Jews. In many ways it was an anti-Zionist movement. Armed struggle was the main option of PLO and this went on till 1993. They like the Jews felt that they were given a raw deal by the Labour government of Britain. Many of the promises were not kept up and they did not get the support they were looking forward to. It was the only organized group which was planning for a homeland for Arabs and they were the effective promoters of the Palestinian cause.
The Cause and the Role of PLO
The reason for forming PLO was to have a homeland for Palestinians and to improve the lot of Arabs living in Palestine. What is Palestine? Palestine is a geographical and historical area in the Middle East. Palestine was for long ruled and occupied by the Romans. Slowly with the Arab influence increasing some parts of it came under the Ottoman Empire. During the early 20th Century British had control over this area and called it Mandatory Palestine. Since the Arabs had helped the British to defeat the Ottoman Empire, Arabs were promised a land of their own in Palestine. But this did not happen. Over the years many organizations tried to create a land for themselves but it was the PLO which brought some major changes in the world views.
- Palestinians co-operated with the Arabs hoping to destroy the state of Israel.
- They were inspired by Nasser of Egypt and looked up to him as well to create the state of Palestine.
- Setting up of PLO in 1964 was set up by the government.
- In 1968, Fatah fighters with the help of Jordanian army resisted an attack on a village in Jordan.
- Fatah operated in many countries in the Middle East and attacked Israelis.
- The man behind this success was Yasser Arafat and he soon joined PLO and slowly rose in the ranks finally to lead the PLO from 1969.
- There was fragility in the PLO and it was not being managed well. This was not a good sign and was not moving towards the cause of its homeland.
- However guerrilla attacks on Jews began to take place by the PLO.
- The military targets that bordered Israel were attacked.
- These attacks moved to a nature of terrorism as even the civilians were being targeted.
- These acts of PLO started attracting more attention from other countries especially after three planes were hijacked and later destroyed in 1970.
- At the Olympic Games in Munich eleven Israeli athletes and 26 civilians were killed in the airport. This shook the world and the world was getting to know how dangerous PLO could get.
- Arabs continued to hijack planes to attract attention.
- Several Arab groups and many communities began to respect PLO for their persistent show of resistance against Israel.
- In 1974 Arab League stated that PLO was the only legitimate representative of the people of Palestine.
- Yasser Arafat was given more powers and was called to the UN to speak their concerns.
- Arafat’s rise to power, overlooking many seniors of PLO was not welcomed and there were fights between the Jordanians and PLO.
- PLO was expelled from Jordan and moved to Lebanon. From there they attacked northern Israel.
- They also began to influence the Lebanese government which seemed a positive sign.
- However they made a mistake in supporting the Muslims in the civil war in Lebanon.
- The cause of the Arabs were taken up all the in the Middle East and there were many more nations fighting Israel.
- There was a time when Arabs working in Gulf had to give 5 to 10 percent of their salary to PLO.
- The magazine Time called it "probably the richest, best-financed revolutionary-terrorist organization in history."
How Successful was the PLO
PLO was the only organization that was termed a terrorist organization yet was given an elevated status. In 1974 it was declared as the sole representative of the Palestinians and Yasser Arafat, the leader of the organization was called by the UN and he spoke in the General Assembly of the UN. Apart from spreading hatred for the Jews in that area they wanted to be noticed by the world. For that they would adopt any tactics. Apart from the international reporters always portrayed the pathetic conditions of the refugees who came away from Israel. This also evoked great sympathy all over the world. Along with sympathy, there were many negative opinions about the PLO. It was banned from Jordan in 1971. Its support of Muslims in the civil war in Lebanon was not well received. PLO could not really take over the Israel state. Israel was not willing for peace talks without PLO dropping its terrorist activities.
PLO created a lot of interest in the all the countries in the world. The Arab world supported it. However the terrorism it perpetuated was getting out of hand and then the PLO was not being considered as a befitting outfit to sit for peace talks. It was swayed by the opinion of the Arabs states. Peacemakers in the Middle East could not base their solutions based on PLO’s concurrence. Though the Arab states supported it, they did not give it a status of effective and decent representation of people. They are incapable of running their government, creating institutions and taking a state forward. To conclude it can be said that the PLO was successful in promoting their ideas, at least some of them. In the recent times they managed to put across the point that they would not hold any resistance against Israel using military intervention. They understood that they could not create a homeland using violence. If PLO shows itself as a more responsible political party it might have some chance to establish their homeland.