- Tanzanian support for the PLO actually dates back to the 1960s. Nyerere was among the leaders who spoke in support of the Palestinian struggle during the Six Day War of 1967. During the 1967 conference of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), Nyerere stated that: ‘The establishment of the State of Israeli was an act of aggression against the Arab people…the international community accepted this as an aggression. The Arab States did not and could not accept that act of aggression.. The Arab states cannot be beaten into such acceptance.' He ended by stating Tanzania's position is that: ‘We recognize Israel and wish to be friendly with her as well as with the Arab nations. But we cannot condone aggression on any pretext, nor accept victory in war as justification for the exploitation of other lands, or governments over other peoples.' Nyerere accepted that Israel had the right to exist. He accepted aid from Israel through most of the 1960s. However, he was not willing to compromise on principles. He condemned anything he considered a violation of human rights.
Tanzania's support for the Palestinian struggle expanded in the 1970s. The PLO was one of the liberation groups invited to attend the non-alignment meeting of Third World countries in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in April of 1970 as an observer. The invitation of the PLO to participate in the Dar es Salaam Non-Alignment conference was the beginning of Tanzania's official recognition of the PLO as representative of the Palestinian people in international bodies. The PLO attended the conference as an observer alongside the ANC from South Africa, FRELIMO of Mozambique, and other liberation groups from southern Africa.
Tanzania opened its doors to the PLO in 1974 by allowing the organization to have an office in the country. Two PLO representatives, Fouad Bitar and Kheir El-Din Abdulrahman, PLO representative in Sudan, brought a message for Nyerere from Yasser Arafat in May 1974. Another message by another PLO official, Farouk El Qaddouni was brought to the Tanzanian Foreign Minister, John Malecela. The PLO delegation came to Tanzania to start the process of opening an office in the country. The man selected to head the office was Foud Bitar. The office was eventually set up after May of 1974. The PLO representation in Tanzania expanded the following year when another office was opened in Zanzibar . The move came after the President of Zanzibar, Aboud Jumbe, travelled to the Middle East at the end of 1974. Jumbe identified with the Palestinian struggle and offered his support to the organization. The government of Zanzibar decided to allow the PLO to open an office. Mohammed El Nasr, a PLO representative of Lebanese descent, went to Zanzibar in the end of March to open a PLO office there.
The opening up of the two offices in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar was just the beginning of collaboration between Tanzania and the PLO. Much of the support Tanzania gave to Palestine centred on diplomatic support. The PLO sought and received assistance from the Tanzanian government for their struggle for land and statehood. Tanzania provided diplomatic support for some of the PLO initiatives, particularly at international organizations such as the United Nations. One such example came in September 1974 when the PLO was planning to make their case at the UN General Assembly meeting. Yasser Arafat sent his representative Fnu Hilmy to inform Tanzanian officials about their plans at the Assembly and sought support. Tanzania was among a group of nations that supported the Palestinian cause at the UN. This support was important in pushing the Palestinian agenda at the UN. For example, the United Nations passed resolution 3210 in October 14, 1974 inviting the PLO to participate in the General Assembly deliberations on the question of Palestine. Tanzania played a key role in getting the UN to recognize the PLO. Salim Ahmed Salim was the Tanzanian representative to the UN at the time. Salim managed to build a coalition made up of African and Communist countries to secure the UN's recognition of PLO in 1974. Opening the door for PLO participation in UN deliberations was very important for the Palestinian cause. Another important resolution was passed in November 22, 1974; resolution 3237 gave the PLO observer status at the UN. This was an important diplomatic victory for Palestine.
Tanzania co-sponsored a resolution on Palestine at the Security Council in January 1976. Pakistan, Romania, and Panama were the other countries that helped draft the resolution on Palestine. Tanzania suggested the PLO be invited to participate in the deliberations. The group agreed to let Pakistan present the resolution to the Security Council. One of the items of the draft resolution was ‘political independence' of all states in the area and the ‘right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries.' Salim consulted with Libya, Panama, Guyana, and Sweden, France and Pakistan about the initial draft of the resolution. Salim encountered some reservations from Guyana and Panama; they were particularly concerned about a paragraph that identified 1967 occupied territory. Salim was fighting an uphill battle at the UN. The Egyptian delegate had already given up the fight in drafting the resolution stating that it would be impossible to get the nine votes necessary to pass the resolution because of the wording.  The debates on the resolution continued in the course of January 1976. The resolution received enough votes to pass, but was defeated by a US veto.
Drafting UN resolutions that had a chance to pass was difficult; this challenge partly reflected the support that Israel enjoyed from the West, particularly from the US. There were many debates in 1976 on resolutions affecting Palestine and Israel. Eventually, the UNGA and the Security Council agreed to pass a number of tepid resolutions. The UN Security Council resolution 390 adopted on May 28, 1976, noted efforts to find peace in the Middle East and expressed concerns over continued tension. The Assembly passed more resolutions in November and December of 1976. Resolution 31/6-E of November 9, 1976 condemned collaboration between Israel and South Africa. About two weeks later, the UN passed resolution 31/20 that expressed concern that a just resolution to the Palestinian problem had not been found. Resolution 31/186 of December 16, 1976, requested a Special Committee to investigate Israeli practices affecting human rights in the occupied territories. Other resolutions failed to pass because of the US veto. The US vetoed Resolution S/11940 of January 26, 1976 calling on Israel to withdraw from all Palestinian territories. The draft resolution would have recognized the ‘national rights' of the Palestinians and demanded withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967. Nine countries including, Tanzania, Benin, France, Pakistan, and Japan, voted for the resolution. Britain, Sweden, and Italy abstained; China and Libya decided not to take part citing the fact that the resolution did not go far enough for them. [15 The resolution was defeated by the US veto. This was followed by another veto of resolution S/12022 of March 25, 1976 calling on Israel to uphold protection of holy places. The resolution was critical of Israel for taking measures ‘aimed at changing the physical, cultural, demographic and religious character of occupied territories' and for establishing settlements and violating human rights of the Palestinians.  All the countries voted in support of the resolution except the US. The resolution was once again defeated by a US veto. Lastly, the US vetoed UN resolution S/12119 of June 29, 1976 that affirmed Palestinian rights of return and sovereignty in Palestine. The attempts to pass UN resolutions that mildly condemned Israel for violating basic human rights failed, mostly because of US vetoes.
The efforts of the Tanzanian delegation to the UN in 1976 and the US use of veto reveals the challenges of addressing key issues in the conflict and secure lasting peace. The example of the steps taken by Tanzania and other countries in the course of 1976 serves to highlight the commitment of a few countries to uphold the principles of freedom and equality. This struggle has changed little for the Palestinian people over the past thirty years. Peace continues to evade this small, but important region of the world. The key to finding a lasting solution is to build an environment of mutual trust between Israelis and Palestinians. Longstanding fears and concerns of both sides must be addressed if progress towards finding a lasting peace is to be achieved. Most importantly, attempts to broker peace must be built on the platform of basic human rights for all the parties involved.
Nyerere summarized his views towards Palestine in 1984 just before he resigned as Tanzania's leader. He told the Egyptian scholar and human rights activist, Nawal El Saadawi that:
‘We have never hesitated in our support for the right of the people of Palestine to have their own land. Our generation was a generation of nationalists struggle for the independence of our own countries-that is what we were there for-but the plight of the Palestinians is very different and much worse. When we were fighting for our independence, I was in Tanganyika, Kenyatta was in Kenya…But the Palestinian plight is more terrible and unjust; they have been deprived of their own country, they are a nation without a land of their own. They therefore deserve the support of Tanzania and the entire world. The world must hear their voice and give them understanding and support.' 
cc Mzee Mwanakijiji, Mag3, Ritz, Nguruvi3, Kimweri, Jasusi, MK254, msemakweli, NasDaz
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