XIX. The Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM) and the PFLP
At its inception. the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was formed of the Arab Nationalist Movement’s branch in the Palestinian field, the “Heroes of the Return,” the “Palestine Liberation Front” and independent elements which soon took the form of a fourth group within the Front. On this basis and in the light of this formation it was not designed that the Front at the first stage of its life should present a complete leftist political view of the liberation battle proceeding from and based on scientific socialist theory; what was implicitly understood actually was that the Front should present a general liberation thought bearing progressive features which would crystallise more and more with the crystallisation of the experiment. This is as regards the Front’s political thought. As regards organization, it likewise was not designed that the Front should at that stage of its formation be a unified party organization based on the same revolutionary organizational strategic lines which we have discussed. What was also understood was that the Front would for some time continue to consist of a group of organizations, each of which would maintain its independent existence. However there would be a beginning made to planning for coordination among these organizations and an attempt to unify the educational material given to them in preparation for the realization of a climate that would pave the way for the unification of these organizations in the strategic planning in the light of practice and experience.
In the light of this picture, it is evident that there is a definite objective distinction between the organization of the Palestinian branch of the Movement (ANM) on the one hand and the Front on the other. The Movement, in the light of what was designed by its Central Committee during the July 1967 session, possesses a socialist revolutionary concept through which it views the strategy of the Palestine liberation struggle, while the Front presents a liberation thought with progressive features. Moreover, the Movement represents a unified party organization preparing to rebuild itself according to a revolutionary organizational strategy, while the Front represents a group of organizations which differ in their organizational structure. Consequently; the nature of the picture and the nature of relations at the time of formation of the Front was that of an organization possessing a scientific revolutionary view and entering into a front relation with other organizations within a front which presented a progressive liberation thought and was formed of a group of independent organizations tending towards unification. It was natural, such being the case, that the Movement should have its distinctive existence and its distinctive role within this front. This is the gist of the picture at the time of formation of the Popular Front. However the developments and schisms which have occurred within the Popular Front place us now before a totally different picture and cons quently present a new picture for the subject of the Movement and the Popular Front and the relation between them.
The “Palestine Liberation Front” has separated from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and with it a group of independents. The Front continued to exist between the Palestinian branch of the Arab Nationalist Movement and the “Heroes of the Return”. On the other hand, the new situation has enabled the ANM to present through the Front its revolutionary analysis of the Palestinian situation and its full political view of the struggle for liberation, that is, its complete political thought, so that the new picture is one of almost complete identity between the ANM and the Popular Front. The Popular Front’s political thought is that of the ANM in full and its structure is to a great extent the same as that of the Movement. The ANM’s organization constitutes in size a high proportion of the Popular Front’s organization. If we take into account also the nature of the origin of the “Heroes of the Return”, the rules which govern the organization of their first leading cadre, their general intellectual atmosphere and the nature of comradely relations between the ANM and the “Heroes of the Return” – if we take all these points into account, then we may say that to a large extent the formation of the Popular Front is largely identical with that of the Movement. If there is identity in thinking and in formation, any specific strategic distinction between the ANM and the Popular Front no longer applies. Any insistence on maintaining the Palestine branch of the Arab Nationalist Movement independent and distinct so that one may actually feel that the ANM is one thing and the Popular Front another, should be based on a well-defined, objective and tangible distinction. What is this thing on which the Movement’s distinctive existence rests? Is it the political view? The Popular Front’s political view of the battle is now that of the Movement. Is it an organizational distinction? It is true that the presence of the “Heroes of the Return” within the Popular Front constitutes a special organizational issue and it is also true that the speed with which the Popular Front was organised has made this organization, as regards certain organizational characteristics, less solid and less disciplined than that of the Movement, but is this sufficient to direct our strategy towards maintaining the Movement’s special and distinctive organization within that of the Front? In the light of this analysis the February Congress drew the organizational strategic line to direct and guide future relations between the ANM and the Popular Front. This line consists in working for the fusion of the Palestinian branch of the ANM within the organization of the Front and at the same time working for the fusion of the “Heroes of the Return” within the Front as well, and in planning and working for raising the Front’s organizational life to the level of the conscious, disciplined, revolutionary, committed party life.
On this basis, the conception of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine ceases to be that which prevailed at the time of its foundation – that is a front in the usual political sense with regard to thought and organizational relations – and our understanding of the Popular Front and the direction which we take in building it have become something different.
According to our present understanding of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the direction which we take in its building up, it is the revolutionary party based on the political strategy and organizational strategy set forth in this report.
During the process of complete fusion of the Movement and the Popular Front, the sound motto which guides us is:
“The Movement in the service of the Front, and not the Front in the service of the Movement.”