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Armed Struggle and the Search for StateThe Palestinian National Movement, 1949-1993$

Yezid Sayigh

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198296430

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198296430.001.0001

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Challenges of the Armed Struggle

Challenges of the Armed Struggle

(p.112) 5 Challenges of the Armed Struggle
Armed Struggle and the Search for State

Yezid Sayigh

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

The start of pinprick raids against Israel by Fateh at the beginning of 1965 provoked strong reactions. The PLO immediately denied any connection with al-Asifa, and insisted that Palestinian operations should be conducted solely by the PLA. It insisted on taking direct charge of PLA finance, equipment, armament, and the appointment, promotion, or dismissal of officers. Shuqayris protest that the PLO had no desire to exercise sovereign rule over Gaza had little impact. The PLO may have entertained unrealistic expectations of the military capability and administrative autonomy it could acquire. With the establishment of the 421 Battalion, the PLA reached its full strength. The PLO was caught in a paradox. The diplomatic recognition and military capability it received from the Arab states enhanced its stature among the Palestinians, but also raised expectations it could not meet. The contrast with Fateh further eroded its political credibility.

Keywords:   pinprick raids, PLO, Shuqayris, Gaza, Arab states

Building A Liberation Army by Decree

The start of pinprick raids against Israel by Fateh at the beginning of 1965 provoked strong reactions. The PLO immediately denied any connection with al-ʽAsifa, and insisted that Palestinian operations should be conducted solely by the PLA.1 Nasir viewed the start of military action at this time as inopportune and threatening a general loss of control over events.2 His increasing alarm was evident in the instructions issued in March by the Egyptian commander-in-chief of the Unified Arab Command (UAC), ʽAli ʽAli ʽAmir, to his Arab counterparts to arrest Fateh members on the grounds of belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood Society.3 Yet the vehemence of these reactions suggested to many Palestinians that Fateh had done what no other group dared and ‘hung the bell around the cat's neck’.4

This was especially true of the PLO, which was finding it difficult to maintain political momentum and fulfil the expectations generated by the proclamation of the PLA. Nasir's restrained sponsorship of the PLO did not indicate additional support for a Palestinian army, certainly not with the degree of capability and autonomy described in the resolutions of the PNC. Shuqayri's statement that Nasir had offered access to the Palestine Borders Guard in Gaza was self-deluding, while the Egyptian announcement in July that a training camp was being opened for Palestinians in Gaza merely made political capital of a situation existing since 1960. Yet Nasir also came to the assistance of Shuqayri when he came under bitter attack during the second Arab summit conference for having exceeded the mandate given to him in January. Inter-Arab ‘outbidding’ apparendy decided the outcome. On the one hand, Shuqayri secured the crucial support of Saudi king Faysal, who had recently replaced his brother Sacud, and with whom Nasir sought to resolve the Yemen conflict, his key concern in this period.5 On the other hand, Syrian president Hafiz supported the creation of a Palestinian army with an enthusiasm that influenced the other Arab leaders, as the PLO chairman later recounted.6 Not to be outdone, Nasir pre-empted use of the Palestinian ‘card’ by his rivals by informing the summit that he fully approved the formation of the PLO army.7

The same dynamic determined the eventual size and capability of the PLA. The plan submitted by the PLO to the summit conference had called for five infantry brigades and six commando battalions, with a total strength of 16,100, (p.113) and for 35 training camps in various Arab states to provide basic military instruction to 56,000 Palestinians annually.8 The UAC, which was asked by the ministerial council of the League of Arab States for its comments, instead proposed a force of 10 commando battalions with a strength of 5,000, and basic training for 32,000 Palestinians annually if the Arab states were willing to provide the facilities. Egyptian concerns were evident in the recommendation that only three battalions be based in Gaza, with the remaining seven in Jordan and Syria.9 The Arab heads of state finally agreed to establish the PLA ‘in accordance with the contents of the report of the [UAC] commander-in-chief on the subject’, but in practice assumed that its composition would follow the lines of the original PLO proposal.10 They accordingly budgeted £8.5 million for establishment costs and £2 million annually for recurrent expenses.11 Jordan and Lebanon refused to base PLA units on their soil, but Egypt agreed to host two infantry brigades and a commando battalion, Syria three commando battalions, and Iraq one.

Buoyed by the outcome, the PLO executive committee quickly appointed Wajih al-Madani, a Palestinian officer who headed the bodyguard of the emir of Kuwait, as PLA commander-in-chief, promoted him from lieutenant-colonel to major-general, and co-opted him to the committee. It also formed a military committee comprising Madani and fellow executive committee members Qusay ʽAbadla (head of the military department) and Bahjat Abu-Gharbiyya to negotiate the details of PLA formation, armament, and jurisdiction with their Arab counterparts. Several weeks of discussions with UAC commander-in-chief ʻAmir and chief-of-staff ʽAbd-al-Munʽim Riyad led to a revised establishment plan for the PLA, and on 25 November ʽAmir notified the Egyptian, Iraqi, and Syrian chiefs-of-staff of its ratification.12 The UAC had apparendy given way to the PLO regarding final PLA force structure and the formation of tank, artillery, and other combat support units, but in reality ʽAmir had simply deferred issues he knew to be contentious for renegotiation with the Arab commands directly concerned.13

That the issue of control was at stake immediately became evident when the PLO military committee commenced negotiations with Egyptian chief-of-staff Muhammad Fawzi on 29 November. The PLO aspired from the outset to exercise continuous and effective control over the PLA. Its original submission to the Arab summit had acknowledged that operational command and the supply of food, ammunition, and fuel in wartime would have to be the responsibility of the UAC or relevant Arab headquarters. However, the PLO insisted on taking direct charge of PLA finance, equipment, armament, and the appointment, promotion, or dismissal of officers.14 In its counter-proposal, the UAC had noted that it could see no objection to PLO control over its finances and armament, while leaving the legal and political status of officers for further study with the League of Arab States and host countries.15 The Arab summit imposed no formal restrictions on the exercise of PLO authority over its army, except in specific relation to deployment in host states and combat operations.16

(p.114) The Egyptian command held a diametrically opposite view, which applied not only to the immediate formation phase of the PLA, but also, as later became apparent, to control over the army in the long term. Fawzi referred studiously to defence minister Shams Badran on all matters, and so his position during the talks reflected that of the Egyptian political leadership, more precisely of Nasir. The establishment plan presented by Fawzi and his aides on 15 December insisted that the Egyptian army should undertake the formation of the PLA, wholly without the involvement of the PLO military committee or the PLA command, to their intense dismay.17 This meant denying both bodies any role in the appointment and promotion of officers, disbursement of pay and other expenses, supervision of the receipt and distribution of arms, issue of individual call-up notices on conscripts, or putting contracts for the construction of PLA barracks out to tender.18 Fawzi similarly refused a request for the PLA command to assume gradual control of its own units as they were established during 1965.

As these meetings showed, the dispute over responsibility for the formation of the PLA concealed a more fundamental disagreement about which party was really to control it. Matters came to a head on 28 December, prompting the PLO military committee to ask Shuqayri to attend the next round of talks.19 He already had some indication of the Egyptian position, having discussed the issue of control with ʽAmir during talks about the PLA establishment plan. Shuqayri explained that he expected the PLA to come under Arab command for combat operations, but to be independent in all other respects and to come under the authority of the PLO just as Arab armies answered to their respective governments.20 This seemed to be in line with the formal resolutions of the second Arab summit. As he recalled in his memoirs, however, neither ʽAmir nor any other Arab leader he met had considered that the PLO would assume control over its own army at all, let alone in one or two years’ time, so long as it was based in their territory.21 ʽAmir sidestepped the issue by urging Shuqayri to negotiate it directly with the Arab general staffs concerned.

Shuqayri and Fawzi met on 12 January 1965, by which time Fateh had started its raids on Israel. Shuqayri highlighted the pressure he was under from the Palestinian public to demonstrate progress, and stressed the importance of allowing the PLO to handle all media activities relating to the PLA. He hoped, among other things, to screen a film of the army in training at the second Arab summit conference scheduled for September.22 Fawzi shrewdly assured the PLO chairman that these concerns would be addressed, but reiterated that there could be only one party with authority over the army-in-formation. ‘A ship with two captains will sink’, he insisted.23 However, his additional observation that direct involvement by the PLO would raise serious legislative and administrative problems in the Gaza Strip indicated that Egyptian concern about duality of control was not limited to the PLA, but extended to the exercise of PLO authority more generally.

(p.115) Shuqayri's protest that the PLO had no desire to exercise sovereign rule over Gaza had little impact.24 To his added objection that the PLO had already drawn up a blueprint for the PLA command and general staff in agreement with the UAC, Fawzi replied bluntly that the latter body had no jurisdiction in Gaza, which was under Egyptian military authority.25 Fawzi added that as an officer he was only following orders, and so the PLO should approach Nasir if it wished for more.26 The only official Shuqayri met in the event was foreign minister Mahmud Riyad, who advised him to take Fawzi's advice.27 Madani peevishly observed that the PLA did not need a commander, since he had no function to perform.28 He and ʽAbadla continued to agitate for a greater role in the construction of the PLA, but to little avail despite threatening to resign on a couple of occasions.29 Finally, a distinctly unhappy Madani accepted Fawzi's terms for the composition of the proposed PLA units and for the call-up of conscripts, armament, and pay, during meetings on 18 February and 13 March.30 Whether in protest or because Fawzi had objected to him, ʽAbadla did not participate in these or subsequent talks.

The PLO extracted some comfort when Yusif al-ʽAjrudi, the military governor-general of Gaza, approved a draft conscription law for Palestinians in February.31 Yet the law was put not to the PNC for ratification but to the Legislative Council in Gaza, which gave its token approval in mid-March. The Egyptian authorities had in fact already called up the first of 3,500 conscripts a week earlier. The PLO military committee happily approved plans proposed by the Egyptian mobilization branch in mid-April for a voluntary ‘popular’ training programme, but was unable to persuade the military administration to increase the number of trainees from 4,000 to 11,500 by the end of the year.32 The programme was designed to provide manpower for a Palestinian national guard brigade (designated the 19th) attached to the Egyptian army rather than the PLA, but even then only the headquarters elements were formed in 1966 and there were no further intakes of trainees.33 Two other national guards brigades, two commando battalions, and a second fida'iyyun reconnaissance battalion that Fawzi stated would be formed in 1966 similarly failed to materialize, partly due to the shortfall in Arab funding.34

By the end of 1965 the PLA in Gaza consisted of the 107 and 108 Palestine Borders Guard Brigades (with the 319, 320, and 321 and the 322, 323, and 324 Battalions respectively) and the 329 Commando Battalion. These units were 40 per cent below strength, however, and had only 35 per cent of their planned equipment and vehicles.35 The situation was to change little by 1967, as conscription dropped well below the targeted intake of 3,000 annually. The Egyptian command doubled the number of Palestinians entering officers' schools (from 20–30 annually since 1961 to 46) and then took an additional 100 cadets in October 1965, but its adamant refusal to allow the transfer of Palestinian officers from Syria and Iraq posed a severe problem.36 The shortfall was met by drawing on Egyptian army reserves, who provided up to 90 per cent of officers and non-commissioned ranks in the combat units.37

(p.116) The PLA command also suffered, and in early 1966 still had only seven officers and 33 other ranks, instead of the 59 and 210 respectively called for in its table of establishment.38 Fawzi doubted the loyalty of Palestinians serving in other Arab armies and regarded them as steeped in the machinations of party politics, and between December 1964 and mid-February 1965 turned down six requests from the PLO involving over 230 Pdestinian officers serving with the Syrian and Iraqi armies or in enforced retirement in Jordan.39 The PLO had been allowed to ‘import’ only one officer so far, Madani. It appointed two Syrian-based officers, Subhi al-Jabi and Muhammad Abu-Hijla, as military advisers in October 1964, but neither was allowed to take up residence in Egypt.40 The Egyptian command relented enough for the PLO to appoint Jabi as chief-of-staff in July, but delayed a decision on another nine officers on request from October 1964 until March 1966, when it denied permission.41 In the meantime, the arms contract included in the memorandum of 28 April 1965 was not implemented and had to be renegotiated in a new agreement signed on 22 March 1966. This was in turn only partially honoured, and then after a delay of some nine months more.

In a report to the PLO executive committee in mid-August 1965, Madani singled out the inability of the PLA command to appoint officers or transfer them between units based in different Arab states as the main example of its lack of authority and credibility.42 He urged Shuqayri to raise this and other problems affecting the PLA at the coming Arab summit conference, due in September, but any hopes either man may have had were dashed by Nasir. The gist of the Egyptian president's view was that the PLO should build the PLA as an irregular force rather than a regular one with conventional heavy weaponry, taking the south Vietnamese National Liberation Front as its model, not the Free French Forces during World War Two. Picking up his president's theme, UAC commander ʽAmir added that the PLA should be excluded from frontline positions along the borders with Israel and would have no combat role to play until the Arab armies were fully prepared to launch a general offensive, at which point it could be ordered behind enemy lines to sow chaos and facilitate the Arab advance or else act as auxiliary forces to the rear.43 Shuqayri obtained an Arab commitment for additional funding for the second phase of the PLA's formation, but the pledges were not honoured and little else changed in the event. Returning again to the problem of securing officers in March 1966, Madani feared erosion of the capability and morale of the command and of the unity of PLA units scattered in three Arab states.44

The PLO may have entertained unrealistic expectations of the military capability and administrative autonomy it could acquire, but the fact remained that Egyptian constraints undermined its political standing. Conscious of the need to pre-empt militant Palestinian nationalism of the type publicized by Fateh, Nasir offered token compensation. In February 1965, the governor-general of Gaza dissolved the Palestinian National Union and transferred its personnel and assets to the PLO's new ‘mass’ vehicle, the Palestinian Popular Organization (p.117) (al-Tanzim al-Shaʽbi al-Filastini). On 1 March the PLO assumed control of the Voice of Palestine (Sawt Filastin) programme on Cairo radio (broadcasting six hours a day, for which it paid), and on 10 April the Egyptian military administration decreed a ‘liberation tax’ on all economic activity and trade in the Gaza Strip, with the revenue going to the PLO.45 Nasir also demonstrated his support for Shuqayri in the face of the mounting challenge from Fateh by addressing a special message to the second PNC session on 31 May, in which he asserted that ‘you represent the Palestinian people’.46

PLO relations with Syria did not differ fundamentally, despite the greater flexibility shown towards the PLA in some matters. The prices charged by the Syrian command for Soviet-supplied infantry weapons were considerably less than in Egypt, for example, and contracts were concluded relatively quickly, by May 1965.47 PLA weapons were moreover exempted from customs duty, as for the Syrian army.48 The Syrians insisted on vetting officers, but acknowledged the nominal right of PLA command in Cairo to make appointments.49 The PLA command was also allowed relatively free access to its units, and retained the authority to issue pay, make purchases, and request volunteers and conscripts. Palestinians were already liable to three years' duty in the Syrian army, however, and so the allocation of conscripts would still be managed by its Palestine conscription branch in accordance with Syrian requirements.50

When it came to effective control, however, the Syrian command was no more flexible than its Egyptian counterpart. PLO correspondence with PLA units had to go through Syrian military intelligence, and Palestinian personnel were subject in all legal and operational matters to Syrian jurisdiction. The Syrian command also refused to permit certain graduates of the ‘course of 1948’—the nearly 60 Palestinians who had joined the Arab Salvation Army as cadets and then remained with the Syrian army after the Palestine war—because many were regarded as leftists and had been dismissed during the anti-communist purges of 1959.51 Some remained persona non grata and were assigned by the PLO to posts outside Syria, Rashid jarbuʽ and Muhammad al-Shaeir being the best examples. The PLO was finally able to assign a handful of the veterans to commanding positions following direct approaches to president Hafiz, chief-of-staff Salah Jadid, and military intelligence chief Ahmad al-Swaydani, but only after it accepted the secondment of a number of Palestinian Baʽthist officers from the Syrian army to the PLA. It was unable to persuade the Syrian command to accept the transfer of 134 Palestinian officers from Iraq.52

In May 1964, the official al-Baʽth newspaper had taken the view that ‘the creation of Palestinian military battalions tied to the Arab armies in their direction and command … renders them permanently vulnerable to regional Arab problems and disputes … These battalions will be scattered and distributed among several [political] parties, which will weaken their strength and influence … and we do not know what will remain of [their] influence and effectiveness when the views of the Arab states clash in specific situations’.53 Yet (p.118) the desire not to be outdone by Nasir prompted a change of approach, and on 3 May 1965, the PLA assumed command of 120–150 men of the Palestinian Reconnaissance 68 Battalion in a ceremony attended by Hafiz and Shuqayri. (The Syrian army retained possibly a similar number for its own reconnaissance needs, regrouping them as the ‘Jalal Ka ʽwash Unit’ in 1966.) The new PLA unit was renamed the 411 Commando Battalion, and the 412 and 413 Battalions were formed after the induction of another 600 volunteers and conscripts in the next three months, along with light combat support and headquarters units.54 The battalions were built up over the next year and provided with a brigade headquarters in spring 1967, but the plan to reach an eventual strength of two brigades and five commando battalions with a strength of6,257 by 1967 was not even attempted, let alone attained.55

Iraq, which hosted only the 421 Commando Battalion, imposed its military jurisdiction on the PLA equally stringently.56 It was generous in other ways, announcing in February 1965 its willingness to train 60 Palestinian cadets from other Arab states and registering 158 cadets (including three pilots) in its academies by mid-year.57 This was in addition to the 134 officers trained in 1960–3 who had remained in service with the Iraqi army.58 The PLO sought to benefit from the surfeit of officers by transferring 129 to Gaza, but was denied permission to do so by Egypt.59 Only after the deterioration of Egyptian relations with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the US in spring 1966 was the PLO allowed to transfer some 80 officers from Iraq to Gaza, along with 10–12 others from Syria (who were confined to PLA headquarters in Cairo and banned from visiting the combat units).60 The 421 Battalion lacked soldiers, however. The Iraqi command had promised to impose conscription on the 15,000 Palestinians in the country, but in June 1965 called for volunteers from other Arab states instead. Up to 3,000 Palestinians arrived from Kuwait, Lebanon, and (mainly) Jordan, but Iraq was unwilling to exceed its commitment to host a single unit and inducted only 600 men.61 It paid all costs for the battalion, but defaulted on pledges to the PLA budget totalling £480,000 in 1965 and 1966.62

With the establishment of the 421 Battalion, the PLA reached its full strength. The PLO hoped to attain its original target with the expansion of the units in Gaza and Syria in the second stage, and to establish further units in Lebanon and Jordan, but failed in both efforts. The Lebanese authorities allowed the PLO to open a representative office and a research centre in Beirut, but refused to host combat units and compelled Palestinian refugees who volunteered for PLA service elsewhere to relinquish their right to return to the country.63 More intractable and unrewarding still were the negotiations conducted by the PLO and Jordan between February 1965 and March 1966. The authorities consistently opposed the establishment of PLA units in the kingdom, arguing that 60 per cent of the Jordanian army was already Palestinian and that its own expansion programme would produce ‘four times what the PLO demands’.64 Agreements were reached in July and December 1965 and March 1966 on a number of military, political, financial, and media issues, but the (p.119) Jordanian government had little intention of permitting the PLO to establish a foothold. Both sides had exchanged bitter accusations since October, and from March 1966 engaged in an open propaganda war.

The Challenge of Fateh

The PLO was caught in a paradox. The diplomatic recognition and military capability it received from the Arab states enhanced its stature among the Palestinians, but also raised expectations it could not meet. The contrast with Fateh, which continued to announce guerrilla raids on Israel, further eroded its political credibility. This was ironic, since Fateh faced considerable difficulties of its own in living up to the promise of ‘armed struggle’. Its founding documents had predicted that ‘at zero hour and the moment of the emergence of the revolution, the throngs of revolutionaries shall set off to their designated targets and strike astonishing blows that will surprise the entire world’, but the negligible material results of its raids belied such hopes. Ramshackle methods of recruitment and slipshod security led to further blows, as dozens of members in Jordan and Lebanon were arrested in following months, prompting others to leave the ranks, among them former Filastinuna editor Huri. Fifteen activists who arrived in Gaza with instructions to attack Israel were also detained by Egyptian military intelligence following three raids during February.65

Fateh was apparently taken aback by the vehemence of Egyptian reactions to the start of military operations against Israel, and issued its first political statement on 28 January to explain that ‘our plans in the military and political fields do not conflict with the official Palestinian and Arab plans’.66 Yet a second publication in the same period titled ‘Statement on Timing’ revealed that Fateh sought ‘the conscious entanglement [al-tawrit al-waʽi] of the Arab masses as a whole, and not of the Arab rulers and states as such’ in the conflict with Israel.67 It regretted that the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were a ‘neglected quantity’, and insisted that ‘any act of liberation that does not take conscious entanglement of the masses into account will fail at the outset because it has overlooked the strongest active force in the battle’.68 Fateh added that Arab resources could only be mobilized through military activity, and that the cycle of Palestinian action and Israeli reaction would demonstrate the real threat posed by an expansionist Israel to the Arabs.69 At the very least, it would ‘raise the heat of the confrontation along the borders in order for the border villages to pressure their capitals to place weapons in the hands of the masses’.70

Al-tawnt al-waʽi reflected a particular perception of how political transformation and military mobilization could proceed. Early issues of Filastinuna had argued that the Arabs could not defeat Israel in a ‘lightning war’ waged by regular armies with conventional weapons, and from 1961 onwards echoed (p.120) Arab concerns about the development of the Israeli nuclear programme, which was widely perceived as a major strategic threat.71 Fateh reiterated in February 1965 that hopes of a blitzkrieg in which the Arab armies would suddenly, and swiftly, destroy Israel were doomed to fail.72 Yet to ‘destroy all the military, political, financial, and intellectual institutions of the Zionist occupation state’ and ultimately ‘end the Zionist influence on the occupied land, both human and social’ would require massive force that only the Arab armies could provide.73 Fateh was not opposed to conventional warfare as such, but assumed that it would come about in stages, and that it needed to be triggered by independent action from the ‘masses’. Its framework was ‘liberation war’ (harb al-tahnr), not ‘people's war’ as developed in China or Vietnam.

Fateh failed to propose a specific political framework or organizational structure for mass participation. It simply asserted that the masses should first find effective means for self-protection, then provide active support for the revolutionary guerrilla bands, and, in the final phase, join the ‘army of return’.74 Fateh drew heavily on the experience of the Algerian war of independence, arguing that ‘the glorious Algerian experience has proved our belief to be correct, that it is the armed struggle that unites the popular base and organizes it into effective, conscious revolutionary cadres … it becomes the basic factor in uniting the Arab effort’.75 Action preceded theory, and practice developed by trial and error. In Wazir's words, Fateh proposed ‘to learn swimming by entering the water, and to learn war by waging it’.76 If nothing else, Fateh was certain of one strategic truth: the means to initiate the historical process was ‘the launch of the armed revolution in the usurped part of our homeland’.77

The eclectic and non-programmatic nature of Fateh thinking was confirmed in a second notion, al-tafjir al-mutasalsil (successive, or consecutive detonation). The Palestinian people stood at the centre of several concentric rings of influence: the Arab masses, Arab governments, and international arena. As Khalid al-Hasan explained, ‘our military action provokes an Israeli reaction against our people, who then become involved [in the struggle] and are supported by the Arab masses. This extends the circle of conflict and compels the Arab governments either to join us or stand against us. [Opposing us] means to diverge from their own people, who will then be transformed from a supportive role into an active one [on our side]. The cycle affects the evolution of Arab policy and has further international repercussions, and so feeds back to influence the central sphere [that is, Palestine]’.78 Ultimately, Fateh reasoned, the Arab armies would ‘intervene to decide the conflict, and to bring it to an end after the revolutionary masses had prepared the way for them’.79

Al-tafjir al-mutasalsil revealed the influence of the example of the Cuban foco, the revolutionary ‘nucleus’ that practised political propaganda through military action. This appealed strongly to Fateh, which sought ‘a spectacular operation that would arrest the attention of the Israelis, Palestinians, Arab regimes, and world public opinion’.80 Effectiveness was not a priority. As Salah Khalaf later explained, ‘to strike at a bridge or culvert could not be a decisive act in liberation, (p.121) but we also knew that to strike a culvert could draw ten more youths to join Fateh’.81 In this way Fateh also hoped ‘to instil military action and the use of weapons against the enemy in the general Palestinian consciousness, after that consciousness had been overloaded with theorizing and military action that was far from the masses’.82 Fateh also noted that it was Fidel Castro's small band of guerrillas, rather than the communists in the cities, who had specifically launched the armed revolution in Cuba. This confirmed its conviction that ideologically-based parties were unable to lead the masses or overthrow the Arab governments responsible for defeat in 1948, a task they had left to army officers motivated by a mixture of patriotism and adventurism.83

Yet Fateh wanted not only ‘to show the world that we are here’, but also to propel the PLO towards exercising greater autonomy from the Arab states and, in its own turn, to benefit from the formal political status of the PLO.84 There was more than a touch of Blanquism in this strategy inasmuch as it expected (to paraphrase Friedrich Engels) that energetic and unrelenting action by a small group of resolute activists would enable them both to draw the mass of the people behind them and to seize the helm of the state (in this case the PLO), although Fateh lacked the requisite organization and revolutionary ideology.85 In early 1965 Dannan, Zaʽnun, and Khalaf proposed to PLO military department head ʽAbadla that Fateh should operate as the secret guerrilla wing of the PLA.86 A proposal made to Shuqayri in the same period suggested that the PLA would be the only Palestinian military formation—comprising regular and commando units, and responsible for universal training and the establishment of permanent reserves—if Fateh could act as the political wing of the PLO. Khalid al-Hasan was the main proponent of this option, arguing to his colleagues that carefully-selected attacks by a core of 200 well-trained guerrillas could achieve the desired ‘detonation’ of Palestinian and Arab military energies.87 Shuqayri correctly understood that Fateh hoped to assume control of the PLO and declined a merger.

Fateh responded to its rebuff by criticizing Shuqayri sharply for his penchant for rhetoric and his bombastic style, stressing that ‘raising the slogan of armed struggle and mass action is not enough to eliminate colonialism, a practical example must be offered’.88 It added that ‘creating institutions that are revolutionary only in their organization cannot be our path to armed revolution, and will instead lead inevitably … to inaction and to preservation of the status quo’.89 Privately, Fateh was not entirely unhappy about Shuqayri's attacks, since they confirmed its political independence to the Palestinian constituency.90 In public, it riposted with a memorandum to the PNC session held in May, in which it retracted its previous support for the PLA and criticized it for being formed in the ‘classical’ mould. ‘Deluding the masses by creating a Palestinian liberation army in this phase is a major sin’, it argued, ‘because in this way we inject the people's mind with sedatives, since the masses will become isolated from the armed struggle so long as the liberation army will do the task’.91 The PLO, too, became a means to ‘freeze the revolutionary potential of the people’, (p.122) at a time when Fateh guerrillas, the ‘suicidal vanguards of the revolutionary armed Palestinian movement’, were being thrown into Arab prisons.92

In criticizing the PLO, Fateh implicitly took aim at the ANM as well. Habash and Fateh leaders including Khalid al-Hasan and Zaʽnun met in Kuwait at the beginning of 1964, but failed to resolve the fundamental differences of outlook and strategy between them.93 Fateh resented the monopoly exercised by the ANM over relations with Egypt, and was antagonized by the insistence of ANM representatives in Cairo and elsewhere on blocking access to Nasir.94 Fateh also argued more generally that ANM insistence on bringing about appropriate political transformations in the Arab confrontation states before launching the armed struggle ‘is wrong. The opposite is true, because it is the Palestinian revolution that is capable of developing the Arab situation and taking it, through peaceful or violent means, to the required level of the great Arab revolution’95 Fateh reversed the ANM slogan ‘unity is the path to liberation’ to ‘liberation is the path to unity’. The ANM was moving towards autonomous Palestinian organization by now, but Fateh saw this as mere political opportunism and argued that ‘this constant vacillation and transformation, and the inability to achieve the slogans it raises, indicate the lack of clarity of vision within its vanguard’.96

Fateh responded to ANM accusations that its military action would precipitate an untimely war with Israel by noting that ‘the claim that [our] acts will arouse the enemy and alert him is false, because Israel is in a state of permanent readiness [anyway]’.97 This was the basis for a wider critique of Arab policy, as a Fateh statement in February observed that ‘planning on the basis of a defensive strategy leaves the initiative in the hands of the enemy’. Guerrilla action, conversely, would ‘extricate the Arab strategy from this passing limitation … to become an offensive strategy thanks to the Palestinian Arab vanguards’.98 An internal document developed the same theme:

[T]he UAC cannot serve the Arab strategy or preserve its defensive or offensive unity if it remains within the limits of coordinating the Arab military effort … inaction … necessarily leaves Arab strategy within the sphere of Israeli strategy and influence …

It is here that the role of the Palestinian Arab people under the leadership of its armed revolutionary movement lies, in extricating Arab strategy … The Palestinian armed revolutionary movement is responsible for brandishing Arab rights in a decisive and direct, practical manner.99

To prove the urgency of the situation, Fateh added that Israel was working to ‘acquire deterrent weapons, both human and material, by settling the Negev with millions of new immigrants and then by possessing nuclear weapons’.100 The message was clear: Israel would be able to deter a major Arab attack within three years, and so Palestinian action that precipitated a confrontation or at least kept Israel off balance would prevent an Arab strategy that grew steadily weaker with the passage of time.

(p.123) Fateh's Syrian Connection

Fateh's appeal to the Arab states to adopt an activist military strategy against Israel fell on deaf ears. Cairo instructed national media to ignore the group altogether in summer 1965, and in September the UAC issued similar instructions to the Arab states. This resulted in a government-imposed blackout in Lebanon, which had previously provided Fateh with an important media outlet. Arafat approached the Egyptian intelligence representative in Beirut to complain of the embargo, and Fateh made a similar complaint in a memorandum to the third Arab summit conference later in the month.101 It added that it was willing to cooperate with the PLO and the Arab states, but only ‘in the field of battle and not in offices or conferences’ and on condition that ‘command will remain in the hands of the Palestinian people, safe from the political rivalries and currents that pull at the Arab world’.102

Fateh had suffered serious blows to its civilian membership and ‘strike groups’, however. Arafat, who remained the principal coordinator of activities ‘in the field’, responded by recruiting more veteran infiltrators and former agents of Arab intelligence services. They were willing to mount sabotage missions in return for a fee, but their performance was poor and loyalty and endurance minimal.103 It was partly to reverse this trend and rebuild the ‘strike groups’ that Wazir now left Algeria to join Arafat in Damascus. With him came Walid Nimr and Mamduh Sabri Saydam, who had been teachers in Algeria and were graduates of the Algerian army's training course in summer 1964. The head of the Fateh civilian branch in Lebanon, ʽAbd-al-Rahim, had meanwhile taken refuge in Damascus. The Fateh field command now took formal shape as an ‘emergency council’ headed by Arafat, with Wazir, Nimr, Saydam, ʽAbd-al-Rahim, and Abu ʽAbd al-ʽAkluk, another fugitive from Lebanon, as members.104 Other fugitives, such as Ahmad al-Atrash and Manhal Shadid, were put on the fu U-time payroll as senior military cadres.

The establishment of the emergency council revealed a deep rift, that pitted those members of the higher central committee who resided in Kuwait against Arafat. ʽAbdul-Karim and Dannan of the old ‘rational’ wing opposed his methods and regarded his claims of success in military operations and recruitment with deep suspicion. They resented his failure to consult, while he complained that funds were being withheld. Indeed, the emergency council was able to maintain activity only because the Qatar group, headed by ʻAbbas, Najjar, and ʻUdwan, and Hani al-Hasan and his student and worker organization in Germany privately offered financial assistance.105 However, Wazir was becoming increasingly critical of Arafat too, and was cited in a PLA intelligence report as arguing that ‘we must build our party apparatus even if this means stopping all other activity. It is by means of this apparatus that we will construct our guerilla apparatus that believes in acting according to our plan, and then we can dispense with the mercenaries’.106

(p.124) The widening of the internal rift coincided with the growing interest of the Syrian authorities in Fateh. Despite general support for the start of Fateh military activity in January 1965, the relationship was neither formal nor institutional, and consisted mainly of turning a blind eye to the assistance offered by various government officials or army officers. One cabinet minister transported arms for Fateh in his private car, for example, while a senior officer drove Fateh raiding parties past army checkpoints to the border in his official vehicle.107 The authorities were at first content with this situation, so long as Fateh guerrillas circled into south Lebanon or Jordan and refrained from attacking Israel directly from Syrian territory, but they also sought a more loyal ally.108 Security chief ʻAbd-al-Karim al-Jundi hoped to create a Baʻthist guerrilla group that could rival Fateh, while military intelligence chief Swaydani tried to revive the Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Palestine and urged Palestinian Baʻthist officers to give lectures on guerrilla warfare and people's war to the Pdestinian internal security and reconnaissance units.109

The Palestinian branch of the ruling Baʻth Party supported movement away from Fateh. The Muslim Brotherhood background of Fateh founders provoked distrust, as did their apparent Egyptian connections: Arafat's accent and the fact that several came from Gaza.110 The Palestinian Baʻthists were few in number and often ostracized by the generally pro-Nasir refugees in Syria, and Fateh threatened to compete for the same constituency.111 Fugitive Baʻthists from the West Bank and Gaza were also hostile to Fateh, which they regarded as parochial and reactionary. The Baʻthist officers, in particular, were offended that a band of amateurs should have taken the military initiative against Israel and won the reputation that was rightfully theirs as professional, trained soldiers.112 They even informed their followers that al-ʻAsifa, which announced Fateh raids, was in fact the military wing of the Baʻth Party's Palestinian branch.113 Fateh's opponents lobbied against it in the party's national command and Syrian regional command, while Palestinian editors in al-Baʻth, ʻAbd-al-Muhsin Abu-Mayzar and Kamal Nasir, took their hostility to the official media.114

Not all Palestinian Baʽthists opposed cooperation with Fateh. Fathi ʽAbd-al-Hamid, an editor in al-Thawra, befriended Fateh leaders, among whom was his own cousin Hayil. The Palestinian branch in Lebanon urged the party leadership to support Fateh during the eighth national congress in April. The congress refrained from taking an official stand, but set up a secret committee to assess Fateh and recommend a policy.115 The party was keen to counter the influence of Nasir among Palestinians, and issued a strong criticism of the PLO in mid-May, shortly before the PNC was to convene.116 The failure of the third Arab summit conference in September highlighted Nasir's loss of control over inter-Arab relations and offered an opportunity to intensify his predicament. The Baʽth Party's national command now urged the Palestinian branch to ‘cease its introversion and approach the Palestinians in their places of residence and work, and become active among them’.117 It also directed the party to ‘organize (p.125) the Palestinians in revolutionary organizations and support these organizations to its best ability’.118

This signalled a more active approach, although Syria still wished to avoid overt involvement in guerrilla attacks on Israel. In July, a Syrian patrol had detained a Fateh team headed by Arafat on its way to attack Israel. Arafat was taken to army headquarters, where a number of Syrian and Palestinian officers questioned him for many hours about Fateh ideology and aims.119 Swaydani favoured cooperation with Fateh, as did his Palestinian aides and officials of the political department of the ministry of interior, while Jundi and air force commander Hafiz al-Asad were hostile, as were their own Palestinian associates (for instance, combat pilot Mahmud ʽAzzam). Chief-of-staff Salah Jadid was typically ambivalent, but leaned to co-optation of Fateh.120 This provided the background for the later decision by the military committee of the Baʽth Party to recommend a merger between the Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Fateh.121 Ultimately, the party hoped to absorb Fateh.122

The leading figure in the Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Palestine was Yusif al-ʽUrabi, an officer in the Syrian army with a reputation for being brave, if headstrong and arrogant.123 ʽUrabi had known Fateh co-founder ʽAbd-al-Karim since the early 1950s, when they and other young refugees formed a short-lived liberation group. ʽUrabi later joined the Baʽth Party (as did ʽAbd-al-Karim, briefly) and earned his officer's commission, before serving in the Palestinian Reconnaissance 68 Battalion in the early 1960s and being seconded to the PLA in May 1965. He remained attached to Syrian military intelligence, with close working ties to Swaydani, and may have headed its Palestine Branch.124 ʽAbd-al-Karim promoted the proposed merger to the Fateh higher central committee members in Kuwait, who were tempted by the prospect of acquiring professional military expertise and access to weapons and training. Arafat and the field command objected strenuously, but were overruled, and ʽUrabi led his group into Fateh during the autumn.125

At around the same time, the Fateh higher central committee imposed a second merger on the field command in Damascus. This involved the Palestinian Liberation Front (PLF), Jabhat al-Tahnr al-Fihstiniyya, formed in 1959 by junior Palestinian officers in the Syrian army, led by Ahmad Jibril, ʽAli al-Bushnaq, and ʽAbd-al-Latif Shururu. Jibril and Bushnaq were among the dozens of Palestinian officers dismissed from service on Egyptian instructions in 1959–61, and received discreet support from a senior officer, ʽUthman Haddad, another ‘graduate of 1948’ who now headed a Syrian border customs force. The key figure was Jibril, who had received his officer's commission and training as a civilian-military engineer in Egypt in 1956–7; unlike Bushnaq, who was among the dozens of Palestinian officers dismissed from service on Egyptian instructions in 1959–61, he was not dimissed from the Syrian army until after the Baʽthist seizure of power in 1963.126 Much like Fateh, the PLF founders distrusted political parties and eschewed ideologies, including Nasir's versions of Arab nationalism and socialism. They combined a simple, uncluttered (p.126) Palestinian nationalism with a conservative social outlook that evinced a distate for secularism without being overtly Islamist.127

Again like Fateh, the PLF took a military focus as its main political dynamic and organizational principle. The founding core of officers decided in 1962 to recruit civilians, but the clandestine cells were constructed according to a strictly military structure and discipline. New recruits underwent a six-month probationary period, in which they read a few political and military tracts, and conducted rudimentary combat and physical training. Only then did they become full members of the PLF. The PLF recruited mostly in the refugee camps, especially among UNRWA teachers and students, as its distaste for ideology and hostility to Nasir alienated university students, employees, and professionals. Its main success was to recruit former members of the Palestinian Reconaissance 68 Battalion, as well as several Palestinian explosives experts trained by Jibril before 1959. Jibril established ties with Syrian military intelligence after the assertion of Baʻthist power in 1963, which ensured, among other things, that his followers received preferential treatment from Syrian security services.128 Total PLF membership probably reached 150–200 by the end of 1965.

Contact was established between the PLF and the Fateh higher central committee sometime in 1965. ʽAbd-al-Karim and Dannan were again instrumental in persuading their colleagues of the benefits of a merger, not least as a means of bringing Arafat and his ramshackle operation under control. Three joint commands were set up: political, organizational, and military. Jibril joined the General Command of al-ʽAsifa (and may have formally headed it) while Hamad al-Mawʽid joined the higher central committee in Kuwait.129 The new structures had little substance, but there was a sharp clash of personalities between Arafat on the one hand, and Jibril and ʽUrabi, who regarded themselves as professional officers with superior leadership qualities, on the other hand. Jibril kept largely to his own followers, but ʽUrabi posed a direct challenge to Arafat's authority with his direct involvement in the activities of Fateh strike groups.

Despite these tensions, Fateh benefited materially from the alliance with the Syrian authorities. It received modest amounts of arms and explosives from military intelligence, and from the workers' militia headed by Khalid al-Jundi, who had become a close friend and ally.130 Additional supplies were also permitted to arrive from Algeria, after the coup in September that brought colonel Houari Boumediene to power. Boumediene shared Fateh's belief in armed struggle, and espoused the same doctrines of guerrilla war and people's war as the leftist faction of the ruling Baʽth Party, which was soon to seize power in Damascus. The Algerian military academy meanwhile ran an advanced training course for 20 Fateh trainees, who returned to Syria in February 1966. The alliance was made public when Fateh was allowed to hold the funeral of Jalal KaVash, an activist who died during detention by the Lebanese police on 9 January 1966, in Damascus.

(p.127) However, closer relations rendered Fateh vulnerable to the vagaries of Syrian domestic politics, as became apparent a few weeks after the coup of 23 February. Sometime in March, the Fateh higher central committee decided to relieve Arafat of his command and appoint ʽUrabi in his stead. However, Arafat and Wazir had resolved their differences and so the emissary sent from Kuwait to Damascus delayed delivering the written orders.131 Arafat was aware of these moves, and possibly for this reason precipitated a confrontation with the PLF in early April, claiming that Jibril's followers had detained and wounded a Fateh guerilla returning from a combat mission in Israel.132 The higher central committee sent a delegation to mediate in the crisis, but Arafat and Wazir insisted adamantly on abandoning the merger with the PLF.133 The collapse of the merger pushed the committee, at meetings held on 29 April and 2 May, to dismiss Arafat and indict him on various charges. The list was long, starting with his refusal to observe collective decisions and then accusing him of clientilism (istizlam), reliance on financial patronage, misuse of funds, and travelling to Lebanon, Cyprus, and Saudi Arabia without prior approval or proper accounts. Arafat was also accused of trying to sabotage the pipeline carrying Saudi oil through Syria and of violating military guidelines by striking Israeli targets close to Arab borders, thus ‘causing destruction to some innocent frontier villages and provoking the resentment of their inhabitants against our movement’.134

The letter of dismissal withdrew confidence from ‘former member Muhammad Yasir ʽArafat al-Qidwa, also known as Jarir Ra'uf and Dr Abu ‘Ammar’, and instructed ʽUrabi to replace him.135 ʽUrabi had already been notified of the decision and, accompanied by two fellow PLA officers, took control of the five Fateh safe-houses on 9 May. A shoot-out in a third safe-house that evening left him dead, along with Muhammad Hishma, one of Arafat's close aides. Three other Fateh cadres in the house were arrested by Syrian military police, as were Arafat, Wazir, Saydam, and Buʽbaʽ, who were not present at the incident. Nimr briefly assumed leadership, but his arrest left Wazir's wife Intisar in sole command. Qaddumi, Khalid al-Hasan, and Khalaf quickly travelled from Kuwait to lobby the Syrian authorities, as did ʽAbbas from Qatar, but met a hostile reception from Asad and ʽAbd-al-Karim al-Jundi. Wazir was nonetheless permitted to leave prison when his infant son Nidal fell to his death from the family apartment two months later. Arafat reportedly staged a 23-day hunger strike in the meantime, and he, Saydam, Nimr, and Buʽbaʽ were released in August.

Syrian indulgence was probably due to a political understanding. Two military tribunals had already convicted the Fateh leaders of instigating the murder of ʽUrabi, but Asad apparently decided to take advantage of the situation to further his own interests in the silent struggle with Swaydani and Baʽth Party chief Jadid. The detainees were moved to the prison at the Dummar airbase, where ʽAzzam and Naji Jamil visited them with an offer of cooperation. Accounts differ, but Nimr later met Asad in person to sign an understanding on (p.128) the terms of Fateh presence and activity in Syria.136 In this way, Asad both co-opted the Palestinian ‘card’ and asserted the right to confine the activities of any other guerrilla group that his rivals in the Baʽth Party might form. The chapter was closed on 29 November, when a new military tribunal, headed by Asad allies Mustafa Tlas, Jamil, and ʽAzzam acquitted ʽAbd-al-Rahim and ʽAkluk, who had remained in prison, and passed a life sentence on ʽAbd-al-Majid Zaghmut, the Fateh guard (and part-time Syrian national guardsman) charged with the actual Hiring of ʽUrabi.

The implications of the emerging alliance between Asad and Fateh were not lost on the civilian wing of the Baʽth Party. In September, its ninth congress approved a recommendation from the Palestinian branch to launch a new liberation group. This task fell upon ʽAdnan Abu-Ahmad, a Baʽthist from Iraq who fled to Damascus after the February coup. Abu-Ahmad led a handful of followers out of Fateh to establish the Vanguards of Popular Liberation War—Thunderbolt Forces (Talaʼ ¼ Harb al-Tahrir al-Shaʽbiyya—Quwwat al-Saʽiqa).137 This group was stillborn, however, and only reappeared seriously in mid-1968. Fateh, conversely, came out of the crisis with a training camp at al-Hama, where Nimr and former maghawir of the 68 Battalion and former fidaʽiyyun of the Gaza-based 141 Battalion provided instruction for a growing number of new recruits.138 The Syrian national guard—the Baʽth Party militia commanded by Muhammad Ibrahim al-ʽAli—provided a steady supply of light weapons and ammunition, including mortars, mines, and explosives, and training in their use.139 Movement across the borders was facilitated, and the ministry of interior issued Syrian passports to Fateh cadres upon request.140

The Fateh power struggle was resolved at the same time. Arafat and Wazir moved to Lebanon in the two months prior to the final military tribunal, during which time Hayil ʽAbd-al-Hamid, who headed the Fateh branch in Egypt, assumed command in Damascus. Arafat was arrested while escorting a Fateh combat team in south Lebanon and detained for a period variously reported at 21 to 55 days, and was expelled to Syria after Syrian military intelligence confirmed that he worked for them.141 An internal enquiry was conducted following his return to Damascus, but produced irreconcilable accounts of the recent crisis. The higher central committee nonetheless instructed him and a senior cadre to take up posts as Fateh representatives in China and Algeria. Arafat ignored this order, prompting ʽAbd-al-Karim and Dannan to threaten to leave Fateh if he was not formally expelled.142 Yet their own backing for ʽUrabi had weakened their position, and a majority of Fateh leaders and cadres now rallied around Arafat. A new higher central committee was formed without ʽAbd-al-Karim and Dannan.143 Other cadres who had adopted a low profile since the launch of the armed struggle also ceased activity, most notably Mahmud al-Khalidi, Munir Swayd, Mahmud Falaha, and Yusif al-ʽAmira. Nimr, Saydam, and Khalaf now joined the committee, tilting the internal balance of power firmly towards Damascus instead of Kuwait.

Fateh was now on the mend. Recruitment progressed rapidly in Syria, especially (p.129) among students and teachers, in both the cities and the refugee camps.144 Fateh also won a few adherents among the small refugee community in Iraq, but more valuable were its contacts with the government. ʽAbd-al-Rahman al-ʽArif, who became president following the death of his brother ʽAbd-al-Salam in a helicopter crash, adopted an attitude of benign negligence towards Fateh activity, permitting it to contact the opposition parties, especially the Bacth. In Egypt, ʽAbd-al-Hamid had built up considerable support for Fateh among the large number of Palestinian university students, although formal membership remained small.145 Fateh also absorbed minor groups such as Tdlaic al-Fida al-ʽArabi li-Tahrir Filastin (Vanguards of Arab Sacrifice for the Liberation of Palestine), founded by veteran Palestinian nationalist and fidaʽiyyun organizer Subhi Yasin.146

Fateh faced serious problems in Jordan and Lebanon, in contrast. Its infiltrators in the West Bank occasionally benefited from the tacit support of Jordanian soldiers and junior officers, many of them Palestinians. Senior politicians and government officials were also sympathetic, and secured the release of Fateh activists in some instances.147 However, the government crackdown on opposition parties in April 1966 also netted numerous Fateh activists, especially those known to the security services because of past membership of an ideological party, such as Samih Abu-Kwayk. Additional arrests were made following the West Bank riots in November, this time affecting branch leader Muhammad Ghnaym. The arrest or flight of most Fateh cadres in Lebanon at the end of 1965 all but paralysed its activity there too, despite the defection to its ranks of leading Palestinian Baʽthists, among them Khalid al-Yashruti and Tawfiq al-Safadi.148 Civilian membership in Lebanon was a mere 80 in early 1966, and virtually non-existent by the end of the year.149

These problems increased Fateh dependence on the Syrian connection, which in turn prompted an attempt to establish working relations with Egypt. The first such attempt had been made in 1963, probably by ʽAbd-al-Hamid, who approached Kamal Rifʽat, a former Free Officer and leading member of Nasir's entourage. Arafat next introduced himself to the resident Egyptian intelligence officer in Beirut, Muhammad Nasim, in mid-1963.150 Fateh renewed contact with Rifeat, now head of the Arab Socialist Union, in February 1965 and reached Mahmud al-Jayyar, head of Nasir's office, but was foiled by counter-lobbying from the director of the Arab Affairs Department in Egyptian intelligence, Fathi al-Dib, and from ANM representative Saʽid Kamal and Muhammad Sbayh, who supported another group, the Palestine Liberation Front.151 The Egyptian authorities renewed their suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood shortly after, suspecting that it was planning a coup in which Fateh's Salim Zaʽnun would be appointed governor-general of Gaza.152 They also distrusted Fateh's ties to Saudi Arabia, which now escalated its feud with Egypt by forming the Islamic League.153 The distrust had not abated by the time Qaddumi and Khalaf met intelligence chief Salah Nasr and defence minister Shams Badran in Cairo, towards the end of l966.154

(p.130) The Anm Marks Time

The ANM proved largely unable to take advantage of the political outlawing of Fateh by Nasir and the UAC in 1965 and of its paralysis for much of 1966. Its own membership was attracted by the lure of the PLA uniform, and exerted increasing pressure to offer tangible competition to Fateh.155 Yet the caretaker leadership of the ANM remained reluctant in the extreme to embark on active military operations, and a general conference held in February 1965 reaffirmed the standing decision not to do so in the near future. More urgent was the need to reconcile the Left and Right, as the debate about socialism intensified. The continuing dispute made it necessary to abandon the previous method of forming a politburo by nomination, and a general secretariat was elected instead, headed by a triumvirate comprising Habash, Hindi, and Ibrahim. The three leaders now proposed to Nasir that he take command of a wider revolutionary socialist coalition, within which the ANM would merge, but to their surprise and dismay he declined firmly.156

According to Habash, the ANM now decided to start preparations for the armed struggle and to direct a major part of its own effort towards Palestine.157 The PAC adopted the name of Munazzamat Shabab al-Thaʽr (Revenge Youth Organization) to indicate the seriousness of its intentions and stepped up recruitment. This was most obvious in Gaza, where the Egyptian military administration regarded the ANM favourably. It recruited former fidaʼiyyun and urged its members to attend PLA training courses.158 Others volunteered for PLA service or earned commissions as officers, while their counterparts in Lebanon and Jordan joined the PLA battalion in Iraq.159 However, the principal ANM effort in Gaza in this period was still directed to political competition with local Baʽthists and communists for influence in the PLO's Palestinian Popular Organization.160

The increasingly Palestinian focus of the ANM was reflected in its media. PAC members Bilal al-Hasan and Ahmad Khalifa joined the editorial board of the Beirut-based weekly al-Hurriyya (Freedom), where they balanced chief editor Ibrahim. Ibrahim remained the dominant influence, and al-Hurriyya devoted most of its space to Lebanese and Arab politics and occasionally debated socialist theory. The PAC created its own mouthpiece by starting Filastin, a weekly supplement of the pro-Nasir Lebanese daily al-Muharrir; Ghassan Kanafani edited Filastin and Salih Shibl was a principal contributor, both members of the PAC. Filastin was used to counter the arguments presented by Fateh for an immediate and autonomous Palestinian military effort, although the editors privately held opinions that often contradicted the official ANM stance.

A three-way balance was emerging in the ANM, in which the old guard headed by Habash and Hindi relied on the Palestinian constituency to counter the Left, but at the same time sought to contain pressures for military action against Israel. The regional command of the Jordanian branch, for example, expressed its impatience with ANM inactivity and its displeasure at the reconciliation (p.131) with the Left during the general conference in February.161 Delegates from Jordan to a PAC conference later in the year advocated the formation of a specialized military apparatus, although it was unclear whether the main target was Israel, the Jordanian monarchy, or other Arab governments.162 A vocal minority at the conference—including four PAC members—went further by pressing for an immediate start of military action against Israel. Habash intervened with an impassioned speech against the proposal, which was defeated in a formal vote.163

Habash later recounted that the ANM triumvirate had made repeated requests to Nasir to allow an early start of Palestinian military action, but deferred to his insistence on postponement.164 Nasir expressed support for eventual armed resistance inside Israel, not across Arab borders, an attitude that prompted a decision by the PAC to prepare for al-ʽamal al-fidaʼi (a notion best translated as selective guerrilla action), through further training and reconnaissance missions in Israel, but not to wage it.165 Years later the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which succeeded the PAC in 1967, was to criticize this self-restraint as the product of a ‘national bourgeois leadership deeply allied to Nasir’.166 In 1965–6, however, the PAC sent 30–35 members from the Syrian branch to receive specialized training as commando instructors in Egypt, and stepped up missions into northern Israel to gather intelligence and recruit local Palestinians.167 The ANM recruited veteran infiltrators for this purpose, including former maghawir of the Syrian-based 68 Battalion, and arranged for coded messages to its clandestine members in Israel and elsewhere to be broadcast over the hugely popular Voice of the Arabs programme on Cairo radio.168

The PAC pointed to this activity to demonstrate its commitment to the armed struggle, and reminded its members that the ANM had lost its first martyr two months before the start of Fateh military operations. A public statement in March 1965 asserted that ‘our struggle for Palestine is at the very heart of our struggle for the realization of the [Arab nation's] objectives: unity, liberation, sodalism, and the redemption of Palestine’.169 Palestine was now the means, Arab unity the end. Yet the ANM was careful not to provoke Israeli reprisals and entangle Nasir in a premature conflict, a balance that both Left and Right preferred. An article by Ibrahim in al-Hurriyya in June expressed the leadership consensus that Palestinian guerrilla action was a legitimate right, but would prove to be little more than an emotional outburst unless it was firmly defined as part of Arab war strategy—whether in a war of defence, deterrence, or liberation. ‘The liberation of Palestine will be Arab, or it will not be’, was his somber conclusion.170

The ANM leadership remained firmly committed to a strategy in which the armies of the ‘progressive’ Arab governments would undertake the main role in a war with Israel.1711 Its attitude also reflected a long-standing fear—first aroused when the notion of a Palestinian entity was mooted in 1959 and then revived by the creation of the PLO in 1964—that the emergence of an autonomous (p.132) Palestinian movement with an independent military strategy would encourage the Arab states to abdicate their own responsibility for the liberation of Palestine. The ANM was not impressed with Fateh's argument that Palestinian guerrilla action would itself mobilize Arab resources, and drew different conclusions from its study of the experiences of liberation struggles in China, Vietnam, Cuba, and Algeria, and in Aden for that matter.172 What impressed it most was the need for careful preparation and appropriate political conditions, leading it to reaffirm the need for full coordination and complementarity with the wider Arab effort.173 Its insistence on this approach led to the failure of talks in Kuwait between Habash and Fateh leaders Khalid al-Hasan, Qaddumi, and Khalaf, among others, in early 1966.174

The PLO Struggles for the Initiative

The PLO was equally discomfited by the political challenge from Fateh. Its discomfit increased sharply in September 1965 when Nasir reiterated in public that he had no plan to liberate Palestine. According to the Egyptian president's confidant and chronicler Muhammad Hasanayn Haykal, Shuqayri was among several Arab leaders who implored him not to repeat such statements: when Nasir observed that he wished the Palestinians to know the facts, the PLO chairman reportedly replied that ‘the masses possess their hopes, but as for the facts, they are the property of the leaders of those masses, especially the historic leaders upon whom those hopes are pinned’.175 Nasir's comments to the third Arab summit conference, which convened in the same month, regarding the modest capabilities and role he expected the PLA to assume caused even sharper distress. This was evident in Shuqayri's atypical rejoinder, in which he not only insisted that the Palestinians should be the first to join the battle of liberation, but adopted Fateh's slogan of tavmt waʽi by predicting that the Arab states would be compelled to follow suit because Israel would not limit the scope and scale of its response.176

As if the obvious paralysis of the PLA were not enough to embarrass him before his Palestinian audience, Shuqayri compounded his political problems with his autocratic style of leadership within the PLO. The first major crisis arose in June 1965, when he unilaterally appointed two Jordanian nominees to the executive committee in an attempt to defuse tensions with Amman. Both men were obliged to withdraw, but Shuqayri caused new offence by appointing himself sole official spokesman for the PLO, with the exclusive authority to make political statements, and awarding himself the right to reassign the duties of other executive committee members at will.177 He moreover took charge of the military committee and made the PLA commander directly answerable to him, prompting Madani to boycott his office for most of August. ʽAbadla had already resigned in disgust when Shuqayri replaced him as head of the military department, adding this to his posts as PLO chairman, head of the PNC, and (p.133) Palestinian delegate to the ministerial council of the League of Arab States. Shuqayri later relinquished the military department to Shihada al-ʽAnani, but the PLA command now complained that the department duplicated some of its own functions, such as intelligence-gathering, and recommended that the department's ‘enemy affairs bureau’ be dissolved.178

Further delays in the formation of the PLA and the PLO's lack of control over its own army were an additional embarrassment. At the beginning of March 1966, PLA commander Madani warned the PLO executive committee that ‘a danger threatens the confidence of our people in both their military and political leadership … [and] threatens the ability of our army's general staff to continue operation’. He noted that the third Arab summit conference in September 1965 had pledged £5.5 million for the establishment of an additional infantry brigade and two commando battalions over the next year, but his report on the receipt of funds and formation of the new units was brief: ‘nothing’.179 Shortly after, Egyptian chief-of-staff Fawzi informed Madani that the transfer of authority over PLA units in Gaza, originally due two months earlier, would not take place until 1 January 1967 (another date that was not to be met).180

A more threatening problem suddenly loomed in Syria following the coup of February 1966. On 1 March, the PLA command revived a long-standing issue of contention by dismissing several Baʽthist officers. Shuqayri meanwhile informed PLA chief-of-staff Jabi that he would be replaced by a fellow ‘graduate of 1948’, Fathi Saʽd-al-Din, who was presumed to be less susceptible to Syrian influence.181 Whether these steps were taken to pre-empt an increase in Baʽthist influence or to take advantage of the political confusion in Damascus, they proved to be misjudged. Asad retaliated on 5 June by ‘withdrawing approval’ from the commander of the PLA brigade in Syria and from his chief of operations, three battalion commanders, and two other senior officers.182 He also banned three senior officers (ʽUthman Haddad, ʽAbd-al-Razzaq al-Yahya, and Sarnir al-Khatib) from attending a staff course.183 Asad relented following appeals by Shuqayri to president Atasi and by Madani to chief-of-staff Swaydani, but he had made his point. Shuqayri made a gesture of placing the PLA brigade under Syrian command, which merely corifirmed publicly the existing situation.

The main problem for the PLO, however, was political. An early reflection of its striving for greater legitimacy was the preparation by the executive committee in mid-1965 of a draft law for the election of the PNC.184 This was published in the hope of inviting debate and ensuring wider acceptance in time to elect a proposed 217 delegates to the third PNC, due in May 1966, but the predictable lack of official Arab support made the project little more than a pipedream and it was quiedy, and permanently, abandoned. In early 1966 Shuqayri sought to shore up his flagging credibility by reviving the Palestinian Popular Organization (PPO), which was supposed to incorporate trade and labour unions, professional bodies, and other social associations (albeit without (p.134) replacing them).185 The PPO was allowed to operate briefly in Jordan until the government crackdown on the opposition parties in April, and was discouraged from the outset from operating in Syria and Lebanon. Interest flagged even in Gaza, prompting Shuqayri to launch a recruiting campaign in March. He boasted in May that PPO membership had reached 17,000, but the organization proved to be little more than an arena for competition between the ANM, Baʽthists, and communists.186

Shuqayri had already sought out the Palestinian groups operating outside the PLO framework. The PLO representative in Beirut, Shafiq al-Hut, met envoys from the ANM, Baʽth Party, Fateh, and three smaller groups on 15 January.187 Madani later reported to Shuqayri that, at a private meeting on 26 January, Habash had informed him of a recent ANM decision to work towards a ‘single Palestinian movement’ and offered military, political, and organizational cooperation.188 Madani also met Ahmad Saʽdi, a founder of the Palestine Liberation Front-Path of Return who represented a coalition of minor groups calling themselves the Political Bureau of Revolutionary Palestinian Forces, and the remnants of the self-styled Palestinian Revolutionary Organization, yet another small group. Saʽdi assured the PLA commander that all these groups were willing to merge immediately within the PLO, but revealed a reluctance to deal with Fateh.189

Further meetings in February led to the formation of a Preparatory Committee for Unified Palestinian Action. An article in al-Hurriyya explained that this coalition sought a preventive war with Israel to keep it from acquiring nuclear weapons, ‘fusion’ between the various Palestinian groups and the PLO, development of guerrilla action and expansion of the PLA as ‘an arm of the Arab strike force’, mobilization of Palestinians in Jordan, and increased awareness among the masses.190 Fateh had already pulled out by now, stating stingingly that it wanted action ‘on the soil of Palestine … not in offices’.191 This was patronizing, but the Preparatory Committee did little to implement its own call in mid-March for armed struggle.192 Its last act was to warn the PNC at the end of May that Israel was close to acquiring nuclear weapons, and to call for a plan ‘that defines the role of the Palestinian people in the preventive war and [that specifies] the preparation for organized guerilla action required for this war’.193 Shuqayri's attempts at coalition-building had failed, in part because he continued to hold that the plurality of political groups no longer had any justification now that the PLO existed, in contrast to the previous phase when the Palestinian cause ‘lived in a vacuum’.194 He had no protection from the complaints voiced at the PNC of military inaction, autocratic leadership, and the shortage of funds.

To reduce his isolation in the following months, Shuqayri turned to the Palestine Liberation Front-Path of Return (PLF—PR), itself the result of a recent merger between two distinct groups. The first was founded by a small circle of Palestinian intellectuals in Beirut in 1961, most prominent of whom was Shafiq al-Hut, a pro-Nasir journalist who issued the first of a series of polemical leaflets (p.135) entitled Tariq al-ʽAwda (Path of Return) in 1963. This was the name by which the group was known, although the formal name it chose in 1964 was the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF).195 Hut became PLO representative in Beirut in 1965 and joined the executive committee in alliance with Shuqayri in July 1966. He encouraged the formation of sports clubs and scout troops in the refugee camps in Lebanon, partly as a means of attracting recruits to the PLF, and tried to extend into the camps in Syria under the working guise of the PPO.196 In spring 1966, the PLF allied itself with the Palestinian National Liberation Front, again a broadly pro-Nasir group founded by Ahmad al-Saʽdi at the end of the 1950s. Saʽdi had a sizeable following in Jordan and Syria, as well as cells among Palestinian workers in Kuwait and students in Egypt, from which he gained a foothold in Gaza.197 The PNLF claimed to have started armed operations in September 1965, and to have lost its first martyr at that time.198

The PLF—PR was a modest force compared to the ANM or Fateh, but this was of little concern to Shuqayri. He needed to respond to internal criticism with a show of political support, and reshuffled the PLO executive committee in July to bring in Hut and Saʽdi. Two of their sympathizers, Ahmad Sidqi al-Dajani and Bahjat Abu-Gharbiyya, were also brought into the committee.199 This move failed to end opposition, and Shuqayri came under renewed pressure in the next two months to demonstrate more than a rhetorical commitment to guerrilla action. This coincided with a fundamental shift in Egyptian policy, as Nasir adopted an increasingly combative tone towards Israel and ‘reactionary’ Arab leaders, most notably king Husayn. It was against this background that Shuqayri renewed discussion of military cooperation with the ANM.

The ANM: One Foot Forward, One Foot Back

The ANM was still reeling from a series of shocks when Shuqayri approached it. In January, an internal coup organized by Egyptian intelligence chief Salah Nasr had excluded the ANM faction of the National Front for the Liberation of South Yemen, threatening the cherished relationship with Nasir. The ANM triumvirate immediately flew to Cairo to give their side of the dispute and mend ties with the Egyptian president.200 The effects of the crisis had barely dissipated when the Jordanian government cracked down on the opposition in April. Dozens of ANM members were arrested, including virtually the entire regional command and the main cadres in the struggle apparatus. Some key figures held firm, among them Zabri, but the much-advertised recantations by others, notably the head of the regional command Rabiʽ and the young Samir Ghusha, dealt the ANM a major political blow. It accused Jordanian intelligence of extracting false confessions by force or deceit and dispatched two cadres to assess the damage, but morale plummeted and mutual distrust prevailed among the remaining membership.201

(p.136) The worst was not over yet. A new crisis suddenly erupted with Egypt when internal security services arrested several former members of the ANM. These were Egyptians who had joined the Arab Socialist Union following the ANM decision to dissolve its local branch. Also detained were ʽAdnan Faraj, head of the ANM's Palestinian branch in Egypt, and Fayiz Qaddura, the liaison officer appointed by the Palestinian military action committee to Egyptian intelligence. The ANM triumvirate fended off accusations from Egyptian intelligence of subversive activity and again met Nasir to resolve the misunderstanding.202 Privately, the ANM blamed the crisis on bureaucratic infighting among the various Egyptian security services. The ANM branch in Gaza also ran afoul of the Egyptian authorities in this period, and 60 of its members were briefly detained following the distribution of a statement critical of Egyptian policy.203

The immediate effect of these events was to intensify the ideological debate that had racked the ANM since May 1964.204 A general conference in July 1966 condemned ‘bourgeois bureaucracy’, implicitly that of Egypt, and moved decisively towards a brand of socialism more radical than that of Nasir. The ANM also instructed its branches in Syria and Iraq to withdraw from the pro-Nasir Arab Socialist Union and to declare against the ‘hegemonistic right’.205 The old guard had found it expedient to give way to the Left on these issues, in order to concentrate on the conflict with Israel. Nasir was now set on the collision course that was to lead to war in June 1967, and Habash and his associates devoted their main effort to Palestinian affairs.

This built on the growing sense of urgency since the beginning of 1966. A plan proposed by the ANM in February argued that the primary task of Palestinian guerrilla activity was to wage ‘a preventive war [harb wiqaʼiyya] to prevent the development of an Israeli atomic weapon’.206 An article in the same period by PAC member Bilal al-Hasan stressed that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, Israel stood to benefit more from the passage of time than the Arabs, thanks to its possession of an atomic bomb, irrigation of the Negev desert, and reception of a constant flow of new immigrants.207 These concerns were repeated at the end of May by the PNC, which regarded ‘preventing Israel from possessing atomic weapons [as] an urgent and pressing aim’ and called on the Arab states to ‘wage a pre-emptive war with Israel in order to prevent her from obtaining atomic weapons’.208 Shuqayri reiterated this view in mid-June, as did the ANM general secretariat, which confirmed Israeli nuclear capability to the movement's national conference in July, citing Nasir.209

It was against this background that ANM envoys met Shuqayri and PLA commander Madani to discuss the formation of a new guerrilla group. Madani had suggested to the PLO chairman earlier in the year that, while attempting to form a wider coalition, the PLA should also establish its own special apparatus (jthaz khas).210 Nothing happened until early summer, when Madani and the (p.137) PLO military committee met in Damascus to discuss options. An approach to JibriTs Palestinian Liberation Front was mooted but rejected, and the decision was taken instead to form a new group.211 Shuqayri and the ANM had come to an agreement on military cooperation in the meantime, according to which the movement would second veteran activists to the PLA.212 Fayiz Jabir and Subhi al-Tamimi were now designated to lead the new group—Abtal al-ʽAwda (Heroes of Return)—at the request of Madani and liaise with the PLA command. The chief operations officer of the PLA brigade in Syria, ʽAbd-al-Razzaq al-Yahya, was liaison officer for training, pay, and arms.213 Madani was nominally commander of Abtal al-ʽAwda and the PLO executive committee approved its expenditure as part of the PLA budget, although only intelligence chief Fayiz al-Turk knew the full details and the names of the persons involved.214

Shuqayri and Madani believed that they commanded Abtal al-ʽAwda, but in fact it was the ANM that exercised control through Jabir and Tamimi.215 The group was based on the ANM's struggle apparatus, and had no independent existence, although it performed new functions at the request of the PLA command. The main task was to gather intelligence on Israel, and so ANM members were instructed to recruit veteran infiltrators in the West Bank and former maghawir of the 68 Battalion in Syria and Lebanon to conduct reconnaissance in return for a monthly stipend.216 Information was relayed by the ANM back to the PLA command, which specified targets.217 Egyptian military intelligence occasionally made requests, and on one occasion one of its officers was escorted into the Negev to take photographs of the Israeli nuclear reactor at Dimona.218

Jabir and Tamimi also used Abtal al-ʽAwda to build ties with Syria, where the ANM was still outlawed. Thanks to the intercession of Shuqayri and Madani, Syrian security chief Jundi allowed the group to open an office in Damascus and a training camp nearby.219 Yet the ANM was careful not to allow Jundi to use Abtal al-ʽAwda, unlike Fateh, as a means of countering Egyptian policy. It was bolder in Jordan, where it recruited a small number of officers and soldiers in the course of 1966. The purpose remains in dispute: the Left later accused the old guard of planning a coup against the monarchy, when it should have devoted itself to ‘mass action’ instead;220 whereas Habash asserted that the ANM had attached little importance to its secret cells in the army and preferred not to construct a military apparatus that might dominate the political organization221.

Paving the Way To War

Abtal al-ʽAwda launched its first raid on Israel from south Lebanon on 19 October, at the height of the media diatribes between Cairo and Amman. Its public (p.138) statement mourned the death of three guerrillas and the capture of a fourth, at least two of whom were former maghawir of the 68 Battalion.222 Fateh had also resumed attacks from the West Bank with the encouragement of the Syrian authorities, which sought to trigger Israeli reprisals and destabilize the Jordanian government. Israel duly responded with an especially severe raid on the frontier village of Samuʽ on 13 November, in which 118 houses were dynamited and 21 Jordanian soldiers were killed and 37 wounded as they rushed to the scene. Palestinian demonstrators in several towns accused the government of leaving them defenceless and called for the population to be armed, but were forcefully suppressed by the army. A new wave of arrests followed, in which PLO and Fateh activists were targeted, along with members of the ANM and other opposition parties.

Undeterred, Abtal al-ʽAwda mounted seven additional raids from the West Bank between December 1966 and June 1967. The ANM also reported several clashes between guerrilla teams and Jordanian border patrols in November and December 1966.223 A caricature in the edition of al-Hurriyya published on 28 November depicted guerrilla action as a time bomb about to explode in the face of a terrified Jordanian prime minister Wash al-Tal, indicating that Jordan, not Israel, was the real target. Yet Palestinian military action had little impact on king Husayn, who ignored public appeals from Shuqayri for cooperation between the Jordanian army and the PLA following the attack on Samuʽ. Shuqayri urged the Jordanian cabinet to resign, and then boasted that ‘our army will enter Jordan at the appropriate time, and we will take no account of Husayn’.224 His rhetoric was bellicose, but he was naturally unable to answer when a correspondent for al-Hurriyya asked when the PLA would cross the borders into Israel.225

Shuqayri's threats against Amman revealed the impotence of the PLO, and led to renewed complaints from his critics in the executive committee. He brusquely dissolved the committee on 27 December, and announced that he had already formed a secret Revolutionary Command Council to replace it. This was untrue, but Shuqayri asked PLA commander Madani and intelligence chief Turk to select candidates for membership in the new body.226 The PLO chairman next took credit for a series of explosions in East Jerusalem a week later, in response to which the Jordanian authorities arrested several PLO officials and closed PLO headquarters in the city. The PLA command in Cairo was shortly to suffer its own internal dissent, as the senior officers, mostly ‘graduates of 1948’ who had come from Syria, tussled with their subordinates, younger graduates of Egyptian military academies, for control of the headquarters building.227 The Egyptian authorities reacted by expelling several senior officers to Syria, among them chief-of-staff Jabi and Muhammad Abu-Hijla, who had repeatedly challenged the mild-mannered Madani for command of the PLA.

Shuqayri confronted this latest challenge by issuing several decrees in the name of the Revolutionary Command Council on 10 February 1967. Most (p.139) important were the formation of a Liberation Council, comprising ‘a number of Arab military professionals’ and PLA representatives to oversee the army,228 and the reduction of pay for officers by 30–40 per cent.229 When Jabi objected, Shuqayri peremptorily replaced him with Fathi Saʽd-al-Din.230 This went too far, however, as Madani refused to conduct his duties for the next month and complained directly to the Arab heads of state. Shuqayri reinstated the executive committee some two weeks later, and abandoned the Revolutionary Command Council and Liberation Council. The internal crisis was defused, but the damage had been done: the PLO was completely unprepared for the war that was to erupt in June.

The trials and tribulations of the PLO were merely a sideshow, however. More significant was the clear consensus emerging among the other Palestinian groups that the time was ripe for guerrilla action against Israel. Hundreds of Fateh members were in Jordanian prisons—at least 250 by June 1967 by one count and 1,000 by another, or 60–80 per cent of total strength by a third—231 but the movement could still call on some 300 members with minimal training in weapons handling in Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. Syrian support allowed a sharp increase in its military activity, with 37 attacks on Israel across the Lebanese and Jordanian borders in the first six months of 1967.232 The rate of Fateh operations jumped fourfold between March and April, parallel to the renewal of border clashes between Syria and Israel that culminated in an aerial battle in April in which six Syrian fighters were shot down.

The ANM was also coming round to Fateh's position, although it was far more circumspect. Raids by Abtal al-ʽAwda notwithstanding, the ANM was careful not to cross the dividing line between controlled escalation, in accordance with Egyptian policy, and complete conversion to the strategy of deliberate entanglement espoused by Fateh. The ANM nonetheless stated its frank support for guerrilla action in December 1966, and later called on the PLO to provide the guerrilla groups with financial and material assistance.233 At the same time, it took care to legitimize its stance by citing speeches by Nasir in which he upheld guerrilla action as ‘the means available to the Palestinian people to express its aims’.234 By February 1967, Nasir was arguing that such action was the natural consequence of the ‘important victory’ achieved thanks to ‘the establishment of the Palestinian entity and the organization of the people that had started through the PLO’.

Nasir was shifting the goal posts, and this emboldened Palestinian cadres of the ANM to publish a scarcely veiled critique of their movement's former reticence towards guerrilla action. Their collective article in al-Hurriyya at the end of January celebrated ‘the radical transformations [in the ANM] that had come as a reflection of important developments at the Arab level, and which almost seemed to justify objectively [the start of] Palestinian guerilla action’.235 They acknowledged that in the past the Palestinian groups had refrained from launching guerrilla action for fear that Israel would launch an all-out war against the Arab states before they were ready, but concluded that (p.140) ‘experience shows that Israel is not only afraid of such a war, but also thinks of defensive means’.

The article may have been remarkable for its completely erroneous assessment of Israeli military capability and doctrine, but more striking was the degree to which it followed Fateh diinking. The authors now defined guerrilla action as the means of‘massing [hashd] the forces of the Palestinian people, not by abstract organization or traditional political activity but by confronting the [Palestine] issue face-to-face’.236 Military mobilization was ‘the means to save [the people] from the despair they are starting to succumb to’, and to highlight the Palestine problem in the international arena. The article added that guerrilla action would raise border tensions and keep the Arab governments on the alert; the higher the level of Palestinian activity, the higher the level of Arab military preparation and effectiveness. Constant raids on Israel would scare away immigrant settlers, weaken the economy, and paralyse vital installations, while readying the Palestinian, Arab, and international conditions for the final and decisive battle of liberation. The ANM cadres warned, however, that Palestinian action neither absolved the Arabs of their historic responsibility nor replaced their military role.

PAC member Bilal al-Hasan took the resemblance to Fateh even further in another article in al-Hurriyya, in which he complained that reliance on Arab power in the previous 18 years had led to ‘the lack of purely Palestinian organizations that work principally for their own cause’.237 The Pdestinians had operated through Arab parties in order to help create ‘revolutionary conditions’, but this approach had always failed to offer ‘an opening to the battle of liberation’ Hasan repeated his long held view that time worked not for the Arabs but for Israel, which sought to settle the Negev desert and acquire nuclear weapons. The solution lay in creating an independent Palestinian movement that would take its cause into its own hands, and the means was ‘armed action over the occupied homeland’. This came perilously close to Fateh's notion of conscious entanglement, but Hasan was unrepentant. Guerrilla action was necessary, first, to revive the Palestinian cause and, second, to ‘push the Arab states into a position of strength capable of confronting Israel’.

Other ANM cadres writing in al-Hurriyya were more cautious. Salih Shibl and Mundhir ʽAnabtawi noted the fragmentation of the Palestinian arena, the offensive capability of Israel, and the limitations of guerrilla war.238 The intermediate position taken by Asʽad ʽAbd-al-Rahman probably reflected the attitude of the leadership, including the head of the Palestinian military committee, Wadʽ Haddad. ʽAbd-al-Rahman concurred with Hasan that the previous ‘terror of entanglement’ had been an illusion, since the borders had remained tense regardless of Palestinian activity and Israel had not counter-attacked massively in any case.239 He, too, viewed guerrilla action as a means of asserting the Palestinian cause in the international arena, ‘detonating’ Arab potential, striking (p.141) fear in Israel and weakening its economy, and revitalizing the Palestinians. Conversely, Palestinian guerrilla action was insufficient to achieve liberation, and so it needed to overturn reactionary Arab governments and assist Arab unity in order to provide the power necessary to attain the ultimate objective of liberation. This postulation remains the most representative of ANM thinking for years to come.

Shuqayri joined the bandwagon in mid-May, daiming that it was the PLO that funded al-ʽAsifa, now commonly known to be the military wing of Fateh. He also proclaimed loudly that the PLO was about to form ‘popular resistance battalions in Gaza to take part in the coming conflict’.240 The Egyptian military administration had indeed agreed with the PLA to call up the 4,000 national guardsmen trained in 1965, but this was taken as a defensive measure.241 More significant was that the tanks and artillery weapons delivered to the PLA at the beginning of the year had proved to be barely operational: instead of 44 Soviet T-34 tanks and 12 122 millimetre howitzers for which the PLO had paid, it received around 10 ageing US M-4 Shermans and a similar number of British 25-pounders, all previously used by the Egyptian army for training.242 Their ranges were sharply reduced as a result, and even then PLA crews had little time to train in their use.243 The PLA also lacked the 300 anti-tank rocket launchers and 45 mortars for which it had contracted with Egypt in March 1966, depriving it of an important defence.244 Madani tried repeatedly to secure the release of a shipment of Chinese infantry weapons and T-54 tanks that had arrived at Alexandria in late 1966, and to obtain additional weapons to arm 4,000 militiamen, but the Egyptian command only issued some lighter weapons on the eve of the war.245 The PLO chairman later stated that he had remained unsure of Egyptian intentions until the last minute; he was able to discuss a possible role for the PLA with ʽAbd-al-Hakim ʽAmir only after the withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping force, but was informed by Nasir on 26 May that war was not in the offing.246

By now the stage was firmly set for war. The Palestinians occupied a minor place in the wider scheme of things, but their role was not insignificant. The various guerrilla groups had mounted 113 attacks since January 1965 by Israeli count (although Fateh alone claimed 300), in which 11 Israelis were killed and 62 wounded.247 Seven guerrillas had also died (three to Arab fire) and two fell prisoner. Guerrilla action hardly posed a real nuisance to Israel, let alone a serious threat, but it heightened Israeli threat perceptions. Fateh's example was such that al-Hurriyya started to publish its military statements in March 1967, and from that point onwards the weekly's front cover and main articles were dominated by discussion of the imminent war. As war talk reached fever pitch, the ANM finally authorized the Palestinian military action committee to start raids against Israel under its own name, Munazzamat Shabab al-Thaʼr, towards the end of May. The statement announcing its first two raids was published on 5 June, the day that Israel launched its surprise attack on Egypt. The irony of (p.142) this coincidence was fitting: on 22 May, Abtal al-ʽAwda had boasted that its guerrilla formations were ‘fully prepared to wage the battle of liberation behind the lines of the Israeli army and between its ranks’.248 Whatever expectations the various Palestinian groups (if not Nasir) may have entertained for a sweeping victory were demolished beyond repair over the next six days.


(1.) Text of original statement.

(2.) Written note from Nasir and Haykal's assessment, in Haykal, Years of Upheaval, 769, and Document no. 53, Appendix, 950.

(3.) Riad el-Rayyes and Dunia Nahas, Guerillas for Palestine (London, 1976), 31; and Shemesh, Palestinian Entity, 59.

(4.) ʽAbd-al-Fattah Ghanim, later secretary-general of the Palestinian Liberation Front.

(5.) ʽAbadla.

(6.) Shuqayri, From Summit to Defeat, 155. On Hafiz, Haykal, Years of Upheaval, 767.

(7.) Shemesh, Palestinian Entity, 60.

(8.) [PLO/PLA], Military Memorandum Presented by the PLO to the Conference of the Arab Kings and Presidents (Arab.) [September 1964], 1–4.

(9.) Memorandum (containing proposal) to the General Secretariat, Office of the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, League of Arab States, from General ʽAli ʽAmir, Unified Arab Command for the Armies of the Arab States, Office of the Commander-in-Chief, File 142, 4 September 1964, 1–2.

(10.) Quote from Resolution QQ 21/D2/, 11 September 1964, in Second Arab Summit Conference, Article 4, p. 36. The assumptions are confirmed in the Memorandum to the chiefs of staff of Egypt, Iraq, and Syria from UAC commander-in-chief ʽAli ʽAmir, Organization and Mobilization Branch, UAC, 25 November 1964, no. (p.715) 104/64/16/1216; and [PLO/PLA], The General Report Presented to the Executive Committee for the Period 24 August 1964 to 22 May 1965 (Arab.), PLO military committee, 3.

(11.) Resolution QQ 21/D2/, 11 September 1964, in Second Arab Summit Conference, Article 4, Items 5, 6, and 7, p. 37.

(12.) Letter to Egyptian, Iraqi, and Syrian chiefs-of-staff from ʽAli ʽAmir, Organization and Mobilization Branch, UAC, 25 November 1964, no. 104/64/16/1216.

(13.) [PLO/PLA], Draft Plan for the Formation of the Palestine Liberation Army, 8 November 1964, appendix A.

(14.) Military Memorandum of the PLO, 2.

(15.) Letter to the General Secretariat, Office of the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, League of Arab States, from General ʽAli ʽAmir, Unified Arab Command for the Armies of the Arab States, Office of the Commander-in-Chief, File 142, 4 September 1964, 4.

(16.) Resolution QQ 21/D2/, 11 September 1964, in Second Arab Summit Conference, Article 4, Items 3 and 4, p. 37.

(17.) [PLO/PLA], Report on the Talks with the United Arab Republic (Arab.), PLO military committee, n.d. [late May 1965], 1.

(18.) Ibid. 1–2.

(19.) Ibid. 3.

(20.) Shuqayri, From Summit to Defeat, 150.

(21.) Ibid. 149–50.

(22.) Report on the Talks with the United Arab Republic, 3.

(23.) Ibid.

(24.) Ibid.

(25.) Shuqayri, From Summit to Defeat, 151.

(26.) Ibid. 152.

(27.) Ibid.

(28.) Report on the Talks with the United Arab Republic, 3.

(29.) ʽAbadla.

(30.) Instructions on organization, Organization and Mobilization Branch, Egyptian General Staff, 23 February 1965, ref. Organization/4/General/1; and General Report Presented to the Executive Committee for the Period 24 August 1964 to 22 May 1965, 4.

(31.) [PLO/PLA], Compulsory Conscription Law (Arab.), appendix no. 13.

(32.) Progress Report on the First Phase of the Establishment of the PLA in the Period 24 August 1964 to 15 August 1965 (Arab.), 1.

(33.) Letter from Madani to Shuqayri, reference D/1/214, dated May 11, 1965.

(34.) Report on the Talks with the United Arab Republic, 7.

(35.) Progress Report on the First Stage and Second Stage of the Establishment Plan for the PLA for the Period from 1 September 1965 to 1 May 1966 (Arab.), submitted by Madani to the PLO Executive Committee, 30 April 1966, ref. 16/S/66/481, Section 1, Article 2, p. 1. On earlier attainment level, Article 1, Item H.1, p. 2.

(p.716) (36.) Ibid., Article 2, Item B.3.g, p. 8; and Report of the PLA Command to the UAC for the Period 18 September 1964 to 1 June 1965 (Arab.), Article 3, Item D.6, p. 4. On earlier intakes, Mansur Sharif.

(37.) Mansur Sharif, later brigade commander.

(38.) Tables in Report of the PLA Command to the UAC, Article 1, Items A and B, p. 2.

(39.) This was certainly Madam's interpretation. Progress Report on the First Stage and Second Stage of the Establishment Plan for the PLA for the Period from 1 September 1965 to 1 March 1966, Section 1, Article 9.a, p. 4.

(40.) General Report Presented to the Executive Committee for the Period 24 August 1964 to 22 May 1965, Section 3, Article 2, Item A.1, p. 6.

(41.) Request for ten officers noted in ibid., Article 2, Item A.6, p. 2. On appointment of Jabi, Turk.

(42.) [PLO/PLA], Progress Report on the First Phase of the Establishment of the PLA in the Period from 24 August 1964 to 15 August 1965, Article 10, Item B, p. 8.

(43.) Lebanese newspaper report based on insider account of the summit debate.

(44.) Progress Report (1 September 1965 to 1 March 1966), Section 1, Article 10, Items B and C, p. 5.

(45.) Raji Sahyun, programme founder and director; and Fuʼad Yasin, broadcaster; Qasmiyya, Ahmad al-Shuqayri, 80; and Shemesh, Palestinian Entity, 60. The radio programme accounted for 40 per cent of the PLO budget by 1966–7, according to a complaint registered among the resolutions of the PNC's financial committee in 1968. Hamid, Resolutions, Item 9, pp. 118–19.

(46.) Ibid. 60.

(47.) [PLO/PLA], Minutes of Talks with the Syrian Arab Republic and the Signing of the Contract no. 2/S on 5 May 1965 (Arab.), appendix no. 8; and [PLO/PLA], Contract no. 4/S Concluded with the Syrian Arab Republic on 16 May 1965 (Arab.), appendix no. 9.

(48.) Law no. 18, issued by Hafiz dated 2 January 1966.

(49.) [PLO/PLA], Minutes of the PLO Military Committee's Talks with the Syrian Arab Republic the Period from 23 March 1965 to 29 March 1965 (Arab.), appendix no. 6, p. 2.

(50.) Samir al-Khatib.

(51.) ʽAbd-al-Razzaq al-Yahya, and Samir Khatib, leftist ‘graduates of 1948’; and ʽAbadla. Also, Hamad al-Mawʽid, Palestinian Communist Action in Syria (Damascus, 1995), 20.

(52.) Letter from Madani to the Syrian command, reference S/2/65/92, dated 13 March 1965.

(53.) Al-Baʽth, 27 May 1964. Quoted in Hamid, Resolutions, 12.

(54.) Progress Report (24 August 1964 to 15 August 1965), 9.

(55.) Minutes of the PLO Military Committee's Talks with the Syrian Arab Republic on 6 December 1964, 5. This figure represented 75 per cent of full establishment strength.

(56.) Minutes of the Talks with the Iraqi Republic (Arab.), appendix no. 10.

(57.) General Report (24 August 1964 to 22 May 1965), 10; and al-Anwar, 12 February 1965. Cited in Yearbook of the Palestine Cause 1965, 84.

(58.) Shuʽaybi, Palestinian Entity, 71.

(59.) Progress Report (24 August 1964 to 15 August 1965), 4.

(p.717) (60.) ʽAbadla, Shaqqura, Sharif, and Turk; Ramzi Badran, officer transferred from Syria; and Kamal al-Qaddumi, officer transferred from Iraq.

(61.) Shaqqura.

(62.) Correspondence between the UAC and PLA in early 1967. For example, letter to PLA commander Madani, reference ShM/607/5/6, 20 January 1967; and letter from Madani to Shuqayri, reference MH/13/2/, 18 March 1967.

(63.) Progress Report (24 August 1964 to 15 August 1965), 7; and letter from Madani to Shuqayri, reference QʽA/9/1/131, 21 February 1967.

(64.) Shemesh, Palestinian Entity, 70.

(65.) Ibrahim al-Dakhakhna, then Egyptian military intelligence officer in Gaza; and Shemesh, Palestinian Entity, 59.

(66.) Text in Wazir, Fateh: Genesis, 162.

(67.) ‘Statement of Timing’ (Arab.), in Fateh, Some Tenets of Guerilla Action, 26.

(68.) First quote from ‘Fateh Starts the Discussion’ (Arab.), in Fateh, Some Tenets of Guerilla Action, 16; Second quote from ‘Statement of Timing’, 26–7.

(69.) Ibid. 26–7.

(70.) This, Fateh boasted, was what its founders had done in 1955, when their raids provoked the Israeli reprisals that prompted Egypt to conclude its first contract for Soviet arms. Kamal ʽUdwan, in ‘Fateh: Birth and March, a Conversation with Kamal ʽUdwan’, Shuʼun Filastiniyya, No. 17, January 1973, 57.

(71.) For example, No. 12, December 1960. On nuclear issue, for example, No. 15, March 1961, 6, and No. 32, August 1963, 16.

(72.) ‘Fateh Starts the Discussion’, 14–15 and 16.

(73.) ‘Liberating the Occupied Lands and the Method of Struggle against Direct Colonialism’ (Arab.), in Fateh, Some Tenets of Guerilla Action, 85.

(74.) Ibid. 114.

(75.) ‘Statement to Journalists’ (Arab.), in Fateh, Bases of Guerilla Action, 55.

(76.) Khalil Wazir, Fateh co-founder.

(77.) ‘Our Movement, Fateh’ (Arab.), founding document reproduced in Fateh: Genesis, 65.

(78.) Khalid al-Hasan. Hasan later formulated this notion in terms of the three characteristics (sing, khususiyya) of the Palestine cause in The Genius of Failure (Arab.), Political Papers 10 (Amman, 1987), 128–9.

(79.) Quote from Fateh memorandum to the second session of the PNC, end May 1965. Text in Yearbook of the Palestine Cause 1965, 114.

(80.) Abu Iyad (Salah Khalaf) with Eric Rouleau, My Home, My Land: A Narrative of the Palestinian Struggle (New York, 1981), 43.

(81.) Fateh, Dialogue about the Principal Issues of the Revolution (Arab.), text of interview with unnamed Fateh official in al-Taliʽa published in 1968 (Kuwait, n.d.), 72.

(82.) Wazir quoted in Hamza, Abu Jihad, 166.

(83.) ‘Our National Struggle’, in Fateh, Some Tenets of Guerilla Action, 41.

(84.) Mahmud ʽAbbas, Wazir, and Khalid al-Hasan.

(85.) Wolf, Peasant Wars, 269.

(86.) ʽAbadla.

(p.718) (87.) Khalid al-Hasan.

(88.) ‘Liberating the Occupied Lands’, in Fateh, Some Tenets of Guerilla Action, 76–7.

(89.) ‘Press Statement’, in Fateh, Some Tenets of Guerilla Action, 55.

(90.) Wazir, Fateh: Genesis, 99.

(91.) Text in Yearbook of the Palestine Cause 1965, 14–15. Quote from ibid. 114.

(92.) Ibid.; and Hurani, Palestinian Political Thought, 108 and 113.

(93.) Zaʽnun.

(94.) Nasim. Also on the ANM role, report from Habash to Nasir, quoted in Haykal, Years of Upheaval, 768.

(95.) ‘How the Popular Armed Revolution Erupts’, in Fateh, Revolutionary Lessons and Experiences, 178.

(96.) ‘Seventh Session: Why I am Fateh—Second Programme, Revolutionary Vanguards’, in Movement's Sessions 1–12 (Arab.), 58.

(97.) ‘How the Popular Armed Revolution Erupts’, 178.

(98.) Yearbook of the Palestine Cause 1965, 112.

(99.) ‘How the Popular Armed Revolution Erupts’, 176–7.

(100.) Ibid. 176; and ‘Statement to Journalists’, 59.

(101.) Nasim.

(102.) From text in Khatib, Palestinian Revolutionary Experience, 169.

(103.) On recruitment, Ghnaym, and Qudsi; and Supplement to Lebanon Report, 9.

(104.) Zaʽnun.

(105.) Mahmud ʽAbbas, Hani al-Hasan, and Wazir.

(106.) Supplement to Lebanon Report, 5.

(107.) ʽAbd-al-Hamid, and Buʽbaʽ.

(108.) Confirmed by several Fateh cadres, for example ʽAbd-al-Rahim.

(109.) Jundi, and ʽArka.

(110.) Hallaq, and ʽAbd-al-Hamid.

(111.) Jundi.

(112.) ʽAbd-al-Rahim.

(113.) Ahmad Dahbur, then Palestinian Baʽthist.

(114.) ʽAbd-al-Hamid.

(115.) Shemesh, Palestinian Entity, 65.

(116.) Cited in Shuqayri, From Summit to Defeat, 157.

(117.) ‘Secret Internal Circular about the Party's Palestinian Policy and the Summit Conferences’ (Arab.), No. 4/8, 29 September 1965, 9.

(118.) Ibid.

(119.) ʽArka.

(120.) Hurani.

(121.) Ahmad al-Shihabi, then leading cadre in the Palestinian branch. Confirmed by Jundi.

(122.) Hurani.

(123.) Zaʽnun, and Mukhtar Sabri Buʽbaʽ, the emissary. Other details on ʽUrabi from several interviews.

(p.719) (124.) Dawud Ibrahim, Salah Khalaf: The Wanior Teacher (Arab.) (Jerusalem, n.d. [1991]), 29.

(125.) ʽAbbas, Impossible Revolution, appendices, p. 6.

(126.) Jibril was born in 1937 in the village of Yazur (near Jaffa). His mother came from a wealthy Syrian family, which is why the Jibril family had the means to leave the country on a flight from Lydda airport to Beirut in 1948. Family ties, which later included connections by marriage to two senior Syrian and PLA commanders, may also have assisted his subsequent career. Details from Jibril interview in al-Wasat, 10 April 1995.

(127.) ʽAli Ishaq, Abu Haytham, Abu Ahmad Halab, and ʽUmar Abu-Rashid, then PLF cadres.

(128.) Ishaq, and Abu-Rashid.

(129.) Hani al-Hasan.

(130.) Jundi.

(131.) Buʽbaʽ, the emissary.

(132.) Hamza, Abu Jihad, 274.

(133.) ʽAbbas, Impossible Revolution, 16.

(134.) Nazih Abu-Nidal, The History of the Crisis in Fateh from Foundation to Uprising (Arab.) (n.p., 1984), 42–4.

(135.) Buʽbaʽ.

(136.) That a ‘political’ meeting took place is confirmed in Abu Iyad with Rouleau, My Home, 46.

(137.) Samir Sabri, then Fateh military cadre.

(138.) Abu Mahmud al-Dawli, then Fateh trainee.

(139.) Sabri.

(140.) Jundi.

(141.) Abu Iyad with Rouleau, My Home, 47; and ʽAbbas, Impossible Revolution, 18.

(142.) Mahmud ʽAbbas.

(143.) Hani al-Hasan.

(144.) ʽAbd-al-Rahim.

(145.) Lamʽi al-Qumbarji, then cadre in Cairo.

(146.) Subhi Yasin came from Shafa ʽAmr in north Palestine and was a guerrilla with the legendary sheikh ʽIzz-al-Din al-Qassam in 1935. He fought as an officer of the Arab Salvation Army in 1948 and then headed a small network of infiltrators in Jordan (under the name of Khalid ibn al-Walid) connected to Egyptian military intelligence in the mid-1950s, before taking refuge in Syria. Staunchly pro-Naser, he was accused of complicity in the coup attempt in Damascus on 18 July 1963, and was exiled to Cairo after a period in prison. Sometime between 1959 and 1964 he founded the Vanguards of Sacrifice Organization and recruited a handful of young Palestinian students and employees in Egypt. He merged with Fateh in 1968, but was killed a few months later in circumstances suggesting an internal dispute or rivalry with another Fateh leader. Information from several sources, including Yahya Habash, then member of Fateh regional command in Jordan; Fuʼad Yasin, (p.720) senior member of Vanguards Organization in the mid-1960s (no relation); and Ahmad Sarsur, then PLA officer.

(147.) Shemesh, Palestinian Entity, 79; and Wazir, Fateh: Genesis, 79.

(148.) Tawfiq al-Safadi.

(149.) ʽAbd-al-Rahim, and Qumbarji, who took command of the Lebanon branch in 1967.

(150.) Nasim.

(151.) Qumbarji, and ʽAbd-al-Rahim.

(152.) ʽAbd-al-Qadir Yasin, The Fateh Crisis: Its Roots, Dimensions, Future (Arab.) (Damascus, 1985), 34.

(153.) Amin Huwaydi, Egyptian defence minister and chief of intelligence after June 1967, and Dakhakhna.

(154.) Abu Iyad with Rouleau, My Home, 47–8.

(155.) Khalifa.

(156.) Matar (ed.), Doctor of the Revolution, 72 and 93–4.

(157.) Ibid. 116.

(158.) Zabri, and Yaghi.

(159.) For example, ʽAbdullah al-ʽAjrami.

(160.) Details in Abu-ʽAmr, Origins of the Political Movements, 138–42.

(161.) Khalifa.

(162.) Bilal Hasan.

(163.) Bilal Hasan, and Khalifa.

(164.) Matar (ed.), Doctor of the Revolution, 95.

(165.) Bilal Hasan; and Haykal, Years of Upheaval, 769.

(166.) PFLP, The Organizational, Military, and Financial Report (Arab.), Fourth National Congress, April 1981, 103–4.

(167.) Munir al-Khatib, then ANM section head in Syria; Asʽad ʽAbd-al-Rahman, then Palestinian military action committee member; and ʽAbd-al-Karim.

(168.) Khawaja, then Palestinian military action committee member; and Salah.

(169.) Text in Yearbook of the Palestine Cause 1965, 96.

(170.) ‘Is There an Alternative to the Fath of Nasir?’, al-Hurriyya, 21 June 1965, 5.

(171.) Zabri.

(172.) This study was apparently not based on primary sources or first-hand experience. The only material available to the ANM on China, for example, was a copy of the Red Book and other writings by Mao Zedong that student leader Taysir Qubaʽa received during an official visit to China in the mid-1960s. According to Ahmad al-Yamani, senior ANM cadre and later leading PELP official.

(173.) Salah.

(174.) Hasan; Faysal al-Khadra, then ANM section head in Kuwait; and Munir al-Khatib.

(175.) Muhammad Hasanayn Haykal, 1967 the Eruption: The Thirty-Years War (Arab.) (Cairo, 1990), 212.

(176.) Lebanese newspaper report based on insider account of the summit debate.

(177.) Filastin, No. 17, al-Muharrir supplement No. 590, 17 June 1965.

(178.) Progress Report (24 August 1964 to 15 August 1965), 8.

(p.721) (179.) Progress Report (1 September 1965 to 1 March 1966), 5–6.

(180.) Agreement Concerning the Formation and Armament of PLA Units (Arab.), ref. 4296/3764, 22 March 1966.

(181.) Decree by Shuqayri, no ref., 13 February 1967, referring to his earlier decision of 1 March 1966.

(182.) Letter from Asad to Madani, ref. 403/1/66, 5 June 1966.

(183.) Yahya, and Samir Khatib.

(184.) Text of draft law in Filastin, No. 20, al-Muharrir supplement No. 626, 29July 1965.

(185.) Text of the Palestinian Popular Organization Law approved by the PNC in Filastin, No. 17, al-Muharrir supplement No. 590, 17 June 1965.

(186.) Shemesh, Palestinian Entity, 82.

(187.) Filastin, 5 May 1966.

(188.) Undated and unreferenced private memorandum, 2–3.

(189.) Ibid. 3.

(190.) ‘An Acute Attempt to Unite the Instrument of the Revolution’, al-Hurriyya, 21 February 1966, 10–11.

(191.) Al-Ahrar, 2 April 1966. Cited in Yearbook of the Palestine Cause 1966, 125.

(192.) Filastin, 5 May 1966.

(193.) Al-Ahrar, 28 May 1966. Cited in Yearbook of the Palestine Cause 1966, 127.

(194.) Text of speech to the PNC in May 1966, in Palestinian Arab Documents 1966, 193–206.

(195.) Details in Hut, Twenty Years in the PLO.

(196.) Suhayl al-Natur, then PLF cadre; and Qasim al-ʽAyna, then member of Tal al-Zaʽtar refugee camp committee.

(197.) Bhays, then PLF cadre in Jordan and Egypt; Samih Shbib, then PLF cadre in Syria; and Abu-Rashid, then PLF—Jibril cadre in Syria.

(198.) Statement published in Kul Shayʼ (Beirut), 21 August 1968. Cited in Palestinian Chronology (Beirut, 1969), xiv. 220.

(199.) Yearbook of the Palestine Cause 1966, 89.

(200.) Matar (ed.), Doctor of the Revolution, 97–9 and 103–5.

(201.) ANM accusations, for example, in al-Hurriyya, 18 July 1966. The two cadres were Khalifa and Munir Khatib.

(202.) Matar (ed.), Doctor of the Revolution, 97–9 and 103–5.

(203.) Abu Suhayl, then senior ANM cadre in Gaza.

(204.) Al-Hakam Darwaza, then member of the ANM general secretariat and head of its ideology committee.

(205.) Kubaysi, Concerning the Formation, 109–11.

(206.) Al-Hurriyya, 21 February 1966.

(207.) Ibid. 13 February 1966, 16.

(208.) Text in Palestinian Arab Documents 1966, 223–33.

(209.) Al-Ahram al-Iqtisadi, 15 June 1966. Cited in Yearbook of the Palestine Cause 1966, 88–9. On ANM conference, Khatib.

(210.) ‘Private and highly confidential’ report from Madani to Shuqayri, undated but around end of January or February 1966, 4.

(p.722) (211.) Yahya, and ʽAbadla.

(212.) Subhi Tamimi.

(213.) Yahya.

(214.) Turk.

(215.) Subhi Tamimi.

(216.) ʽAbd-al-Rahim Jabir, then Abtal al-ʽAwda cadre; and Mamduh Nawfal, then ANM cell leader.

(217.) Nawfal

(218.) Jabir, patrol leader.

(219.) Subhi Tamimi.

(220.) Shinnar.

(221.) He added that in retrospect this caution was mistaken (Matar (ed.), Doctor of the Revolution, 85–6).

(222.) Al-Hurriyya, 31 October 1966.

(223.) For example, al-Hurriyya, 23 January 1967.

(224.) Al-Ahram, 30 November 1966. Cited in Yearbook of the Palestine Cause 1966, 91.

(225.) Al-Hurriyya, 21 November 1966.

(226.) Turk.

(227.) Shaqqura.

(228.) Hut, Twenty Years in the PLO, 98–103.

(229.) Al-Huniyya, 13 February 1967.

(230.) Order from Shuqayri to Madani, no reference, 13 February 1967.

(231.) Lower figure from Abu Iyad with Rouleau, My Home, 83. Higher figure from Ghnaym. Percentage from Kifah, then Fateh cadre in Jordan.

(232.) Gunther Rothenberg, The Anatomy of the Israeli Army (London, 1979), 132.

(233.) Al-Hurriyya, 5 December 1966, and 9 January 1967.

(234.) Ibid. 5 December 1966, and 13 February 1967. Quote from latter.

(235.) Article by the Arab Studies Section, titled ‘Issues of the Current Palestinian Phase: A Discussion of Guerrilla Action, its Reality and Results’, Ibid. 30 January 1967.

(236.) Ibid. 30 January 1967, 11.

(237.) Ibid. 13 February 1967, 16.

(238.) Ibid. 15 May 1967, 9–10, and 29 May 1967, 9–13.

(239.) Ibid. 15 May 1967, 10–11.

(240.) Al-Muharrir, 16 May 1967.

(241.) Conference on the Popular Resistance Held at the PLA GHQ on 22 February 1967 (Arab.), Items 1.a, b, and c, p. 1.

(242.) Letter from Madani to Shuqayri, 4 February 1967, QʽA/9/1/209, Article 3, p. 3; and letter from Shuqayri to Nasir, undated but sent soon after 4 February 1967, Item 2, p. 3. Confirmed by Mansur Sharif; Mahmud Abu-Marzuq, then PLA artillery company commander; and Ahmad Sarsur, then armour company commander.

(243.) Sharif, Abu-Marzuq, and Sarsur.

(244.) Agreement Concerning the Establishment and Armament of PLA Units, tables, p. 2.

(p.723) (245.) For example, letter from Madani to Shuqayri, ref. QʽA/9/1/330/, 3 May 1967.

(246.) Qasmiyya, Ahmad al-Shuqayri, 95.

(247.) Fateh claim in Yearbook of the Palestine Cause 1967, 124 n. 2.

(248.) Text in Palestinian Arab Documents 1967, 269.