January 29, 1997
Yasir Arafat’s declaration that he will not take any steps to change the PLO
Covenant, which calls for Israel’s destruction, is “a severe violation of the Oslo accords and of the
Hebron accord that Arafat signed less than two weeks ago,” said Morton A. Klein, National
President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).
In interviews with the French newspapers Le Monde and Liberation on January 25, 1997,
Arafat said “We have already canceled the articles that were in contradiction to
the Oslo agreements.”
In fact, in the Hebron accord that was signed on January 15, 1997, Israel, the United States,
and the PLO itself stated: “The Palestinian side reaffirms its commitment” to “complete the
process of revising the Palestinian National Charter” – an explicit acknowledgment that the
Covenant, or Charter, has not yet been revised.
When asked when the PLO will issue a new Covenant, Arafat told the French newspapers,
“As far as I know the Israelis do not have a constitution. When they will have one, we will do the
“U.S. law explicitly requires a suspension of the $500-million in aid to the PLO until the
Covenant is changed,” said ZOA President Klein. “Arafat’s brazen declaration that he will not
change the Covenant demonstrates the need for the U.S. to put real pressure on Arafat to stop his
The Specter-Shelby-Lowey Amendment to the 1995 Foreign Aid Bill specifically required that
the PLO “amend its National Covenant to eliminate all references in the National Covenant to the
PLO calling for the destruction of Israel,” in order to qualify for U.S. aid. This stipulation was later
reaffirmed in the Middle East Peace Facilitation Act of 1995, Sec. 604(c) (1).