The Palestinian State constitution has gone through at least three drafts in an effort led by legal experts in the European Union and the United States.

A comparision of the two versions appears to support the suggestion that the constitution was drafted in English,dated March 25th and then translated into Arabic, March 26th.

The Arabic version leaves out some sentences that appears in the English version and toward the end adds articles that don’t appear in Arabic. Here are some key differences between the two versions.

Article 1 of the English version of the constitution reads as follows:

“The State of Palestine is a sovereign, independent republic. Its territory is an indivisible unit based upon its borders on the eve of June 4, 1967, without prejudice to the rights guaranteed by the international resolutions relative to Palestine. All residents of this territory shall be subject to Palestinian law exclusively.”

In the Arabic version, there is no word that says “based.” This implies that the 1967 lines do not comprise the final border. The wording in both versions are vague. The constitution could have simply read, “West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

Article 7 of the English version of the constitution reads as follows:

“The principles of Islamic Sharia are a major source for legislation. Civil and religious matters of the followers of monotheistic religions shall be organized in accordance with their religious teachings and denominations within the framework of law, while preserving the unity and independence of the Palestinian people.”

The Arabic version does not use the word “major.” The Arabic version reads “Islamic Sharia principles are the chief sources of legislation.” The English version intimates that there are other major sources for legislation. The Arabic version gives no such uggestion.

Article 67 of the English version reads as follows:

“The House of Representatives shall be composed of (150) individuals, representing the Palestinian people. They shall be elected according to the Constitution and election law. When running for candidacy to the House of Representatives, the provisions stated in this Constitution and the election law shall be observed. Candidates for the House of Representatives must be Palestinian.

In the Arabic version, the term “House of Representatives” does not exist. The translation is “council of deputies.” The English term House of Representatives does not exist for any Arab state and appears aimed at American readers familiar with one of the two houses of Congress.

Article 124 of the English version reads as follows:

“The Speaker of the Council of Ministers, or the minister he appoints, shall negotiate international treaties, and inform the President of the State of the course of negotiations, which in turn have to be approved by the Council of Ministers and endorsed by the President.”

The Arabic version does not mention a speaker of the council. Instead, it identifies this position as the “prime minister.” More important, the Arabic version does not say that the president must “endorse” treaties. It said the president must certify or confirm treaties. The Arabic version appears to provide the president with greater authority than the English text.

The English version of the Palestine State Constitution appears at . The Arabic version is available from Israel Resource News Agency by request.