Personalities - Chronological Listing


Mahmoud Abbas, popularly known as Abu Mazen, according to the Arab custom of taking the name of the eldest son, was born in Safad in Palestine in 1935. As a founder member of the Fatah movement he is a leading Palestinian figure who has devoted some twenty years to the search for a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. He is a member of the Palestinian National Council (PNC) and the Executive Committee of the PLO, and has headed the PLO's Department for National and International Relations since 1980. As one of the main initiators of the dialogue with Jewish and pacifist movements in the 1970s, his belief in the maxim 'Know thine enemy' served him well in the difficult years before negotiations were eventually started between the two parties. He is today Arafat's Deputy! He is known as negotiator or Head of the Negotiation team. He is accused of reaching an understanding with Yossi Beilin on a Palestinian State and on Jerusalem in 1995.  


Born in Gaza; physician; early education in Gaza and Jerusalem; M.D. graduate from American University in Beirut, 1943; worked in British Government Hospital of Jaffa after graduation, later as medical officer in the Jordanian army; returned to Gaza in 1945 and opended private practice; member of the Arab Medical Society since 1945; director for medical services in the Gaza Strip, 1957-60; head of the Gaza Parliament's Legis lative Council from 1962-65; member of the first all-Palestinian conference convened in Jerusalem in 1964, which established the PLO, deported to Lebanon in 1970 for PLO activities; head of Palestinian Red Crescent in Gaza since 1972; head of the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid Conference in 1990; led the Palestinian negotiation team for 22 months in the Washington talks.  


Born in Jaffa; co-founder (with Nayef Hawatmeh), former leader and Deputy Secretary-Gen. of the DFLP before broke off relations in 1990; founder of the Palestinian Democratic Union (FIDA); head of the PLO's information department in Tunis; leading PLO moderate; member of the PLO Executive Committee; close advisor to Arafat during the peace negotiations with Israel; Minister for Information and Culture in the PA.  


Born in Jaffa; professor of Political Science; B.A. and M.A. from the University of Illinois, USA (1953 and 1954); Ph.D. from Princetown University, 1962; lecturer at several US universities; author of many works on the question of Palestine; head of the Palestinian Independent Group for Elections in the OPT; head of Palestinian Higher Committee on Education Curricula. Died on the 23 of May, 2001.  


ADWAN, KAMAL (-1973)
Palestinian engineer; in the late 1950s teacher in Qatar; studied later petroleum engineering in Cairo; Fatah key figure and Central Committee member; among the top leaders of the Black September Organization; PLO leader in charge of operations in the OPT; killed by an Israeli raid in Beirut on April 10, 1973.


AL-ALI, NAJI (1938-1987)
Cartoonist; born in 1938 in Skajara village (Galilee); grew up in Ein al-Hilwe refugee camp in Lebanon; published first drawings in the Lebanese newspaper Al-Muharar in the early 1970s; worked later for Al-Watan newspaper in Kuwait; returned in the mid-1970s to Lebanon drawing for different newspapers; went back to Kuwait in 1982 to work for Al-Qabas newspaper; transferred then to their London office; famous for his cartoons showing Palestine under occupation and his figure Handalla; shot on 22 July 1987 in London; led to his death on August 29.  


ARAFAT, YASSER (Abu Amar) (1929-)
Born on August 4, 1929 in Cairo; grew up mainly in Cairo and for a brief period in Jerusalem; fought in 1948 alongside the Mufti's defence forces of Palestine; graduated from Cairo University, Faculty of Engineering, in 1956; founder and president (1952-57) of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) in Cairo/Egypt; founder and chairman of the Union of Palestinian Graduates in 1956; volunteered in the Egyptian army during the Suez Canal crisis; co-founder (with Abu Jihad) of the first Fatah-cell in 1957; founder of Fatah party (January 1959), until today PLO's largest faction; Fatah leader since 1958 and its spokesperson since 1968; elected chairman of the Executive Committee of the PLO since February 1969 when Fatah took over the PLO; changed the directions of the PLO from being pan-Arabist to focussing on the Palestinian national cause; appointed Commander-in-chief of the all-Palestinian/Arab guerilla forces in September 1970; addressed the UN General Assembly in New York for the first time on November 13, 1974; proclaimed November 15, 1988 the independent Palestinian State; and elected by the Central Council of the PLO as the first President of the State of Palestine on April 2, 1989; had secret negotiations with Israel from 1992 which led to the signing of the Declara tion of Principles (peace accord) between PLO and Israel on September 13, 1993; since then negotiating with Israel on Palestinian self-rule; returned to Palestine on July 1, 1994; set up the PA whose President and Minister of Interior he is.  


Engineer, writer and political commentator, co-founder of various Palestinian institutions: Council for Higher Education, National Guidance Committee. Member of board of Trustees, Bir Zeit University, published various studies on the question of development and housing.  


Born in 1942; former Israeli citizen; received the International Lotus Prize for Poetry and the Lenin Peace Prize; trusted aide of Arafat; considered moderate in his political thinking; author of the text of the Declaration of Palestinian Independence (signed by the 19th PNC meeting in Algiers November 15, 1988); author of The Music of Human Flesh and Selected Poems of Mahmoud Darwish (London: Heinemann, 1980), and others.  


FREIJ, ELIAS (1920-)

Born in Bethlehem; businessman, factory owner (mother of pearl and olive wood hanidcrafts); head of Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce since 1970; elected Mayor of Bethlehem since 1972; head of board of trustees of Bethlehem University since 1973; member of Palestinian delegation to the Middle East peace talks in Washington; Minister of Tourism and Antiquities in the PA.



HABASH, GEORGE (Al Hakim) (1925-)
Politician and guerilla leader; Greek-Orthodox; physician; born 1925 in Lydda; expelled from there in 1948; in the early 1950s member of the Organization, `Oppose to Political Settlement with Israel'; Pan-Arabist and Nasser-follower in early years; called for fighting the national struggle for Palestine in a united Arab struggle; graduate in medicine, 1951 from American University of Beirut; founder member and activist in the Arab National Movement (founded in the early 1950s at the American University of Beirut); turned after the 1967 war leftwards in his political thinking and established the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in 1968; PFLP General Secretary since then.  


HASSAN, HANI (Abu Tareq)
PLO leader; studied engineering in the 1950-60s in Darmstadt and Munich, Germany; leader of the Union of Palestinian Students in Europe as well as of many affiliated workers' unions in the early 1960s; elected President of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) at a congress in Gaza, 1962; formed & led his own underground commando group in Germany; joined Fatah in 1963 and committed his group to it; Arafat's political chief adviser on day-to-day matters, special envoy and crisis manager.  


HASSAN, KHALED (Abu Sa'id) (1928-1994)
Born in 1928 in Haifa; fought in the struggle of-1947-48 and fled Haifa in its aftermath; in the early 1950s teacher in Damascus from where he tried to organize commando groups; in the mid-50s secretary of the municipality in Kuwait; Fatah member since 1963; named to and became the leader of the first Fatah Central Committee; named to the PLO Executive Committee in 1968; known as moderate pragmatist and for his engagement of democracy and 'collective leadership' and opposition of armed/military struggle; chairman of the PNC's Foreign Relations Committee (first PLO 'foreign minister' and main architect of PLO foreign policy.  


HAWATMEH, NAYEF (Abul Nouf) (1937- )
Born 1937 in Salt, Jordan, to a Christian Bedouin tribe; in the 1950s and 60s activist in the Arab National Movement; in 1955/56 teacher, writer and journalist in Jordan; graduated from Beirut University (BA, Philosophy and Psychology); member of Habash's PFLP in early years, but split and formed the leftist Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PDFLP; later known as DFLP) in 1968; became and remained elected chairman and main representative of the DFLP to the PNC and PLO Executive Commitee since; known for early attempts to reach dialogue and contact with Israeli leftist groups on the base of a two-state-solution and UN resolutions 242 and 194; wrote several books on the Palestinian Resistance Movement and other issues.  


HUSSEINI, HIND (1916-1994)
Born in Jerusalem; Educator; founder and president of Dar Al-Tifl Al-Arabi institute in East Jerusalem; member of board of trustees of various Palestinian women's organisations.  


Writer and journalist from Acre; editor of al-Hadaf; member of the Political Bureau of PFLP and its spokesperson; published their newspapers (Al-Ray, the Opinion); author of many books, e.g. Men in the Sun and Other Palestinian Stories (London: Heinemann, 1978); killed by a car bomb on July 8, 1972 in Beirut.  


KHALAF, SALAH (Abu Iyad) (1934-1991)
Born in 1934 and fled in 1948 from Jaffa; fought in 1948 alongside the Mufti's defence forces in Palestine; studied in Cairo in the 1950s; founder, member and Arafat's assistant of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) in Egypt (1952); Fatah founder member (1958/59); PLO's security and counter intelligence executive officer; spiritual godfather and chief of Black September Organization; principal Fatah ideologue; before being assassinated on March 14, 1991 in Tunis, PLO's third highest ranking member after Arafat and Abu Jihad.  



Jerusalem-born historian; graduate from London (BA in 1945), MLit from Oxford, 1951; since 1976 associated with Harvard University; co-founder of the Institute for Palestine Studies, Beirut; member of joint Palestinian-Jordanian delegation to the Middle East peace talks.



AL-MASRI, ZAFER (1940-1986)
Landowner from Nablus; elected head of Nablus chamber of commerce; elected mayor of Nablus; assassinated in March 1986.  


Leader from Gaza; member of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS); helped to set up Fatah in the late 1950s; active role in setting up organisations similar to Fatah in Saudi Arabia and Qatar; school teacher; commander of Al-Assifa, Fatah's military arm; named to the PLO Executive Committee in 1968; in early years first military commander of Fatah; leader and operational head of Black September Organization (operated 1970-74); killed by an Israeli raid in Beirut on April 10, 1973.  


Writer; edited the militant newspaper Al-Jil al-Jadid (The New Era) in the 1960s; PLO spokesman in Beirut; killed by an Israeli raid in Beirut on April 10, 1973.  


ODEH, MOHAMMED SA'ADEH (Taysir Khaled) (1941-)
Born on 19 January 1941 in Nablus; worked in the news department of Kuweit Radio from 1960-63; studied political sciences, history and international law in Germany (1963-1972); since 1963 leading member of the GUPS; in mid-1960s leading member of the Socialist Student Union in Germany; joint the DFLP in 1969 and was cofounder of the German Communist League; became member of the DFLP Central Committee and its Political Bureau in 1971; since 1972 PNC member; concentrated on solidarity activities regarding the OPT; wrote several book on the Palestinian issue; elected member to the PLO Executive Committee at the 20th PNC session (September 1991); suspended membership in the Executive Committee in September 1993 in protest against the secretly negotiated Oslo Declaration of Principles.  


Petroleum engineer; former member of the Baath party; early member of the PLO and Fatah; named as member to the PLO Executive Committee in 1969; PLO career as head of the political department; played a major role since the mid- 1970s developing contacts with the USA (which led to their recognising the Palestinian right to self-determination) and European countries; gained the recognition of the PLO as sole representative of the Palestinians in many countries which resulted in the opening of PLO offices in European capitals and the granting of diplomatic status for its representatives; today PLO's official Foreign Minister and critic of the Oslo accords.  


QREI', AHMAD (Abu Ala')
Born in Abu Dis, Jerusalem; member of the Central Committee of the Fatah movement since 1989; member of the PLO Central Council; member of the PNC; founder of Samed Institute in Beirut in the late 1970s; head of the PLO economic department in Tunis; Chief negotiator for the PLO during the secret talks with Israel in Norway in 1993; Minister of Economy in the PA; Secretary General of PECDAR.  


Leading Palestinian guerilla; Arafat's confidante; commander of Force 17 (Arafat's personal elite squad security); blown up and killed by an Israeli initiated car bomb on January 22, 1979 in Beirut.  


Palestinian-Iraqi intellectual; studied economics in England; former member of the PFLP; left the PFLP to form, together with Nayef Hawatmeh, the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PDFLP), later simply known as DFLP; high ranking member of the Damascus-based DFLP.  


Graduate from a US university (heart surgery); led his own guerilla faction in the late 1960s before becoming Fatah member; charged with special missions by the PLO chairman; leading and successful advocate of developing contacts with (moderate) Israelis; considered a controversial figure in the PLO because of his daring diplomatic maneuvers; assassinated on 12 April 1983 in Portugal.  


SAYEL, SA'AD (Abu Walid) (-1982)
PLO leader and senior aide of Arafat; military commander of PLO forces; Brigadier mostly in Lebanon; killed on Sept. 29, 1982 in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.  


SHAKA'A, BASSAM (1930- )
Born in Nablus; member of al-Baath al-Arabi Party in the 1950s; elected mayor of Nablus in 1976 until dismissed from office by Israeli authorities; lost his legs in an Israeli bomb attack in 1980; banned from travelling in 1981.  


Professor of History & Sociology, Georgetown University, USA; author of various academic studies; editor of Journal of Palestine Studies; head of the Jerusalem Fund and the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine, Washington, D.C.  


SHAWWA, RASHAD (1910-1988)
Founder of Al-Kharaiyeh charitable organization of Gaza; twice-deposed mayor of Gaza City; established Shawwa Cultural Center in Gaza City; died of heart attack in 1988.  


EL-WAZIR, KHALIL (Abu Jihad) (1935-1988)

Born on October 10, 1935; expelled in 1948 from Ramleh and fled to Gaza; became fedai in 1954; studied in Cairo in the 1950s; co-founder (with Arafat) of the first Fatah-cell in 1957; Fatah founding member in 1958/59; PLO/Fatah military chief since the 1960s; issued in Lebanon the clandestine Fatah magazine Filastinuna (January 1959); head of the first office opened by Fatah in Algeria, January 1963; played an instrumental role in the PLO's relations with a number of Arab states including Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia; godfather of and contact person for the resistance in the OPT; appointed official deputy of Arafat on Fatah's 1980 congress; Arafat's second and his closest ally; assassinated in his house in Tunis by Israelis on April 16, 1988.

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