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This is a set of short biographies of some of the major Palestinian political leaders since 1967


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This is a set of short biographies of some of the major Palestinian political leaders since 1967.
The index of biographies may be useful for quick reference.
Please see the contact details at the end of the page if you are able to add to or correct any of this information.

Mahmud ‘Abbas [Abu Mazin]: Fatah founder member and former PA prime minister. b.1935, Safad; a 1948 refugee to Syria. Began activism when based in Syria (where also gained a BA in law); went on to work as director of personnel in Qatar’s civil service, & from there managed to organise Palestinian groups & came into contact with nascent Fatah. Joined 1st central committee, but stayed away from the main Palestinian political arena, eg residing in Damascus whilst PLO base was Beirut; key role in dealing with Fatah finances. Member of PNC since 1968; also gained a PhD from Moscow Oriental College in History (on Zionism). Led negotiations with Matityahu Peled that led to the announcement of "principles of peace" based on a 2 State solution (declared 1Jan77). Member of PLO-EC from Apr81; took over OTs portfolio after death of Abu Jihad. Served as PLO head of international relations from 1984-2000. Commenced secret talks with Israelis through Dutch intermediaries in 1989; & coordinated overall negotiating strategy during Madrid process. Oversaw negotiations that led to Oslo Accords, signing DoP on behalf of PLO. Also led negotiations in Cairo that became the Gaza-Jericho agreement & has headed the PLO’s Negotiating Affairs Department from its creation in 1994. His account of the negotiations is Through Secret Channels: The Road to Oslo (1995). Has risen to position of ‘Arafat’s deputy, is Sec-Gen of the PLO-EC (from Apr96). Returned to Palestine in Jul95. Has also served as head of the Palestinian Election Committee (1996-2002). His large new residences in Gaza and Ramallah have led to accusations of corruption. Touted as a potential Prime Minister for Palestine, and held a meeting at his house to discuss this on 23Sept02 - a prospect disowned in a subsequent Fatah statement. Strongly criticised the direction of the armed intifada at a meeting of Fatah leaders in Gaza in midNov02, urging instead the cessation of all military operations. ‘Arafat nominated him as the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority on 7Mar03, and accepted this appointment on 19Mar03. An intense struggle with ‘Arafat over the composition of his cabinet was resolved on 23Apr in his favour, after he won the support of the US/UK (and possibly Israel) in appointing Dahlan to the internal security portfolio, with ‘Abbas himself taking on the position of interior minister. After repeated disagreements with ‘Arafat, tendered his resignation on 6Sept03. Went on to succeed ‘Arafat as chairman of PLO-EC after ‘Arafat's death in Nov04, and secured election as PA President in Jan05.

Muhammad ‘Abbas [Abu-l-‘Abbas]: leader of PLF. Different accounts either place him as b.1942 in Galilee or b.1948, Yarmuk camp, Syria, from parents of al-Tira; refugee to Syria who studied English & Arabic literature at Damascus Uni. After spell in PFLP, joined PFLP-GC in 1973 becoming its spokesperson. But opposed PF-GC’s support for Syrian invasion of Lebanon > formed PLF in Apr77; seat on PLO-EC from Nov84. Was arrested after Achille Lauro affair, after US diverted his plane to Sicily, but released after US failed to provide evidence; subsequent trial in absentia in Italy convicted him to life imprisonment (Jun86). US also forced him off PLO-EC in Oct91. Entered PA areas for Apr96 meeting of PNC, & apologised for murder of Leon Klinghoffer. Based in Baghdad since 1995, he was arrested when US forces took the city on 15Apr03.

Issam ‘Abd al-Hadi: long term leader of GUPW. b.1928, Nablus & based there until 1969, active in West Bank women's movement from 1949 & attended 1st PNC in this capacity, which led to the formal establishment of GUPW in Jul65, based in Jerusalem with assistance of the PLO's Department of Popular Organizations. Jordan banned activities of GUPW in 1966. Imprisoned & then deported (in Apr69) by Israel after arranging a sit-in and hunger strike at the gates of the Holy Sepulchre church to protest Israel's killing of women in Gaza. After deportation, initially worked through Save Jerusalem Committee in Amman. Then appointed to PLO-CC where began reestablishing GUPW in Lebanon in 1974. Opposed phased plan in Jul74, & voted against accepting SCR242 in 1988. Became president of General Union of Arab Women in 1981, & vice-pres of International Democratic Union of Women (1981-92). Returned to West Bank in mid93.

Hayil ‘Abd al-Hamid [Abu al-Hawl]: former Fatah leader. Refugee from Safad to Yarmuk refugee camp, nr Damascus; started in a school group, ‘Arab Filastin, which competed in League of Palestinian Students in mid50s. Then with Hani al-Hasan, coordinated Palestinian activism from W.Germany, & led this group into a merger with Fatah in 1963/4. Went on to lead Fatah groups in Egypt (which began to build relations with Nasir’s government) & Syria. Military training in China (Jul-Dec67); & again, after appointed Fatah’s rep to Cairo, in Egypt in mid69. Became head of security apparatus in Fatah from Apr73, taking over from Najjar, & co-opted on this basis into Fatah-CC. Assassinated in Jan91, together with Salah Khalaf, by the Abu Nidal faction.

Fu’ad ‘Abd al-Karim [Abu Ahmad Fu’ad]: PFLP military commander. ANM cadre before 1967, then PFLP sector commander for Jordan Valley (1967-70). A loyalist to Zabri, & promoted by him to military command in 1972. Is cousin of Sa‘id Muragha, whom he helped in plotting a coup in Jordan in mid70. Based in Damascus.

Khalid ‘Abd al-Majid: head of dissident faction of PPSF since Apr92, coordinating with the Damascus 10 in opposition to Oslo. Based in Damascus.

Bakr ‘Abd al-Munaym: ambassador to Canada. b.1942, Ramleh; a 1948 refugee to Amman. Studied at Cairo Uni as a Mechanical Engineer (BSc, 1966; MSc, 1975), heading a Jordanian power station in between for 7 years. Also obtained PhDs (Mech Eng in Czechoslovakia, 1983; Economics in Germany, 1985; Political Science in USA, 1988). Served as representative of GUPS at the International Union of Students (of which he was vice-president) from 1978-83. Member of the PNC from 1979; of Fatah-RC from 1989. PLO representative to Japan (1983-95), during which time he wrote several works on Palestine in Japanese (Palestine in My Heart, 1991; The PLO and the Gulf War, 1992; An Inside Story of the Middle East Peace Conference, 1993) as well as literary works in Arabic. From Jun95, has been ambassador to Canada, resident in Ottowa. Website here.

As’ad ‘Abd al-Qadir (As’ad Sulayman Hasan ‘Abd al-Qadir: “Salah al-Ta‘mari”): veteran Fatah leader in West Bank, from Bethlehem. b.1943(ish), son of a police station worker who left for Kuwait when he was young & died there. Studied English lit at Cairo Uni, a Nasirite, but joined Fatah in 1965, & became S-G of GUPS in Cairo. After 1967, was a Fatah commander in Jordan, taking control of Karama base. Also married Dina ‘Abd al-Hamid, King Husayn’s ex-wife. Left Amman only after PLO-CC intervention in 1971; then worked in S.Lebanon as the head of the PLO’s youth wing. Arrested by IDF in Sidon in 1982; after solitary confinement for 3 months, was transferred to Ansar prison camp in S.Lebanon, where he became chairman of the internees’ committee (memoirs of this in ASQ7/3, 1985). Won position in PLC as an independent, when not placed on the official slate, with easily the highest number of votes in the district; member of PLO-CC. Appointed spokesman of PA's "Emergency committee for the defence of Palestinian lands" (famously meeting British foreign sec Robin Cook at Jabal Abu Ghnaym in Mar98); and then given PA cabinet position, with new position to combat settlements, in Aug98. Member of Negotiations Affairs Department, with special responsibility for Israeli settlements. Headed Palestinian negotiating team to end the siege at the Church of the Nativity in May02. Lost his position in the PA cabinet in reshuffle of 9Jun02; led support for the no-confidence motion of 11Sept02 that led to the collective resignation of the PA cabinet. Profiles here and here; also relates his life story in Lynd, ed., Homeland, pp.66-70, 106-11, 122-45. Lives in Za'atra, SE of Jerusalem.

Hatim ‘Abd al-Qadir: leading Fatah member in Jerusalem. Started as a journalist before being imprisoned in the intifada era. Won first place in Fatah's Jerusalem primaries in 1995 to be a candidate on the Fatah list for the PLC elections. Became the secretary of the Jerusalem Committee in the PLC and member of the Public Monitoring committee. Critic of corruption (calling for fresh elections in May97 budget scandal) & human rights abuses, esp by Jibril Rajub’s force. Lives in Bayt Hanina; with election to PLC, opened his house for his constituents to consult him, which he preserved despite Israeli attempts to force him to stop.

Tayyib ‘Abd al-Rahim (full name: al-Tayyib ‘Abd al-Rahim Mahmud ‘Abd al-Halim)[Abu al-Tayyib]: Secretary to the PA presidency. Formerly, held a leftist position within the PLO; trained on a leadership course in China for Fatah members (Jul-Dec67); director of Fatah broadcasting (1969-70), director of Sawt al-Filastin radio (1973-8); PLO ambassador to China, Egypt, Yugoslavia. PNC member since 1977; Fatah-CC member, representing Fatah in the PLO-CC since Aug89. PLC member (Fatah) for Tulkarm, with highest votes in district (though only came 4th in the Fatah 1995 primary to select 4 candidates for the Fatah slate).

Ahmad ‘Abd al-Rahman (“Radwan”): PA cabinet secretary, advisor to ‘Arafat. Formerly, a communist who started a leftist network in Fatah during the early1970s; became editor-in-chief of Filastin al-Thawra during the mid70s, taking a strongly anti-Syria line during the Lebanon war. Later became head of Fatah’s information services; Fatah-CC member from early90s.

As‘ad ‘Abd al-Rahman: Independent PLO-EC member formerly in charge of Refugees Affairs Department; responsible for this issue in final status talks. b.1945, Jerusalem. Rose through ANM & PFLP, becoming member of PNC in 1969; then left to become an advisor to PLO-RC from 1970; obtained PhD in polsci from Uni.Calgary, Canada in 1973; then taught at Unis of Kuwait (1974-84) & Amman. Member of PLO-CC from 1977. Head of PA's High Council for Refugee Camps, established in late97. Resigned from the refugee portfolio in 2000, at protest at the direction of the Camp David talks.

Hisham ‘Abd al-Raziq: leading Fatah member in Jabalya, which he represents on the PLC. b.1953, Rafah, from a refugee family from Zarnuqa. Spent 21 years in Israeli jails, where he learnt fluent Hebrew and took a BA in Israeli politics (also wrote a novel and two poetry collections); released in 1994. Appointed PA minister for prisoner affairs Aug98-Jun02, and again from 29Oct02. Was one of the participants in the talks that led to the formulation of the Geneva accord (Oct 03).

Umar ‘Abd al-Raziq: professor of economics at al-Najjah University and close to (but not a formal member of) Hamas. b.1960, trained at Coe College in Iowa for his BA in maths, economics and computer sciences (1982); then at Iowa State University in economics for his PhD (1986). Imprisoned by Israel until 14Mar06, on allegations of running Hamas's finances. Appointed as minister of finance in Hamas government from 28Mar06. Profile here.

Haydar ‘Abd al-Shafi: Gazan physician. b.Gaza, 1919, son of a Waqf custodian in Gaza & Hebron. Graduated in medicine from AUB in 1943, working briefly in Jaffa hospital & as a medical officer with Jordanian army. Member of Gazan Executive Council, directing medical services (1957-60); 1st chairman of legislative council of Gaza (1962-4); when PLO established in 1964, was member of 1st PLO-EC (1964-5) & became a member of the opposition to Shuqayri on it. Captured by Israel after ‘67, & held in isolated Sinai camp for 3 months in 1969; then deported for 2 months to Lebanon on 12Sept70 in retaliation for PFLP hijacking. Thereafter, was founder & director of Palestinian Red Crescent soc from 1972, providing free medical care & a forum for cultural activities. After vocal opposition to Camp David, was prevented from leaving Gaza, & Red Crescent was threatened with closure. Highly respected non-partisan figure, tho with links to PCP/PPP. Former Palestinian delegation leader to the Madrid Peace conference; resigned in Apr93, but resumed position under pressure – only to urge the suspension of Palestinian participation in the talks in May93. Eventually made final break with the Palestinian negotiating team over Oslo. Elected to PLC in 1996 as member for Gaza, gaining highest number of votes of any member. Ran for speakership of the PLC, but lost to Qurai‘ by 57-31 votes; instead took up leadership of the PLC’s political committee. Announced intention to resign from PLC in Oct97 on the grounds that it had been undermined by the PA Executive; came into effect from 30Mar98. Walked out of Apr96 PNC meeting, after ‘Arafat refused to allow him to present his case for not amending the PN Charter until Israel gave reciprocal recognition. A founding member of the Palestinian National Initiative, launched in Jun02.

(Adib) Yasir ‘Abd-Rabbu [Abu Bashir]: PA Cabinet Affairs minister from Apr03, previously serving as the long-time minister of information, culture & the arts. Is S-G of Fida. b.Jaffa, 1944/45; MA in Economics & Pol.Sci from Am.Uni Cairo. Came into ANM-PFLP around 1967, & was key figure in 1968 breakaway of P/DFLP, of which he became its deputy S-G & its representative on PLO-EC from 1973, heading Info & Culture department (1977-94). Has been consistently close to ‘Arafat, & took part in dialogue with Jordan & US 1988-90. After 1990-1 split & formation of Fida, he was a member of the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid talks & helped to coordinate secret Oslo talks in 1993. Kept place in PLO-EC, where he heads the Media Department. Appointed to head the negotiating team to the final status talks; announced his resignation in May00 when secret talks in Sweden were revealed, but without effect. Mahmud ‘Abbas has sought to demote him in the PA to the position of minister without portfolio from Apr03. Was the lead Palestinian participant in the talks that led to the formulation of the Geneva accord (Oct 03).

Walid ‘Abd-Rabbu: Former PA minister of agriculture. Has a PhD in human resource management from the US; served in Jordan's agriculture ministry, and later as a consultant to the PA's agriculture ministry.

Samir ‘Abdullah: Palestinian economist; serves as economic advisor and head of the Economic Policies Department at the Palestinian Prime Minister's Office. A leading member of the PPP, chair of the Arab Economists Association in Ramallah, editor of Palestine Economic Pulse, chief executive of the Palestinian Trade Development Centre. Was part of the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid talks; but boycotted from Apr93. Short article (8Jan04) on impediments to Arab economic growth is here.

Na‘im Abu al-Hummus: PA Minister of Education from 9Jun02. Previously served as under-secretary in the Ministry of Education. b.1955, Bir Zayt, from a refugee family from Lydda. Holds a PhD in Education (San Francisco State Uni) after originally taking his BA in education from Amman. Is a long-time member of Fatah, acting as an observer to the Revolutionary Council. Worked as head of the education and psychology departments at al-Najjah Uni (1982-89). Reportedly had resigned as a minister in May00 in protest at his inability to raise teachers' salaries; reversed when an increase was secured.

Ziyad Abu Amr: PLC member for Gaza city, PA minister for culture. b.1950; BA in English lit & language from Damascus Uni; worked as a teacher in Bahrain, Oman, Syria; then MA & PhD (1986) from Georgetown Uni on comparative politics. Teaches pol sci at BZU; books on Islamist movements & politics in Gaza 1948-67. Connected to Centre for Policy Analysis on Palestine (Washington) & Centre for Palestine Research & Studies (Nablus). Chair of PLC Pol committee, member of PLO-CC. Opposed amending the PN Charter at Apr96 PNC, until Israel gave reciprocal recognition of Palestinian right to statehood; criticised PA for arresting leftist activists in Dec01 statement. Widely respected, he organised the talks between the 12 major Palestinian factions within the WBG to determine the direction of the intifada in Jul-Aug02. Highly critical of the PA cabinet formed on 29Oct02.

Radwan Abu Ayyash: journalist. b.1950, from Askar camp, Nablus. Starting work with al-Sha‘b from 1975, & became editor of al-Awda (1982-6); headed Arab Journalists Assoc in OTs (1985-91), playing major role in presenting the intifada to the foreign press. Leading Fatah member in the West Bank, advisor to the Palestinian delegation at Madrid, & thereafter spokesman for Palestinian NGOs at UN. Appointed the head of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation in 1993, based in Ramallah.

Abdullah Abu ‘Azza: former head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza during the Israeli occupation of 1956-57; arrested in Feb57. Claims he opposed the creation of Fatah, but eventually resigned from the Ikhwan in 1972. A member of the PNC from late70s/early80s; resigned in protest at the 1988 PNC acceptance of Israel. His book, Ma‘a al-Haraka al-Islamiyya fi'l-Aqtar al-‘Arabiyya (1992) contains a detailed account of Fatah's formation.

Bahjat Abu Gharbiyya: Co-founder (with ‘Abdullah Rimawi and ‘Abdullah Nawas) of the Ba‘th Arab Party’s branch in Ramallah in 1952. Member of the Executive Committee of the National Conference, demanding the return of the Nabulsi government in 1957. Member of the first PLO-EC through his sympathies with PLF-PR, where he was head of the opposition to Shuqayri; again on PLO-EC in 1971-72, as the rep of the PPSF. Joined the Rejectionist front in 1974; stood as their candidate for presidency of the PNC in 1977, but beaten 172-69 by Fahum. Now is head of the Ibrahimiyya college in Jerusalem; & is still active politically, eg addressing major right of return rally in Amman in Dec01.

Mahmud Abu Hanud: former West Bank commander of Hamas' ‘Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigades. b.1967; graduated from Islamic College in Jerusalem. Active in 1987 intifada, he was wounded by an Israeli bullet in 1988. Deported to Marj al-Zahur in Dec92, he is believed to have acquired military training whilst there. After caught firing on settler vehicles near Nablus in 1994, was arrested by PA, though released soon after. Thought to have been responsible for training those responsible for 4Sept97 attack on Ben Yehuda street. Israel attempted to assassinate him in Asira al-Shamaliyya in Sept00, when the 3 Israeli soldiers were killed by their own side; he surrendered to PA police, who held him until 18May01, when Israel bombed his prison in Nablus. Finally killed on 23Nov01, when an Israeli missile hit his van outside Nablus.

Samir Abu ‘Isha: PA Minister of Planning from Mar06, a businessman from Nablus. Trained in civil engineering at Pennsylvania State University (MA in 1984, PhD in 1987). Not formally a member of Hamas.

Mitri Abu ‘Ita: PA Minister of Tourism from Apr03; previously as minister of transport from 9Jun02, and as Minister of Tourism and Archaeology, from Aug98. b.1941, Bethlehem. Trained as a lawyer (BA from Damascus Uni), and served as chair of the Jordanian Bar Association (1994-98). A PLC member for Bethlehem, received position to fulfil quota of Christian members; served as second deputy to the Speaker of the PLC until his appointment as a minister.

Tannus Abu ‘Ita: A Christian from Bethlehem, was widely expected to be appointed PA Minister of Tourism in the Hamas-led cabinet from Mar06, but dropped at the last moment.

Samih Abu Kuwayk [Qadri]: former Fatah leader. Originally a Ba‘thist, he joined Fatah in 1962-3, & served as secretary to Fatah’s regional command in Jordan from 1969 (briefly replaced by Hani al-Hasan in early70), became a member of Fatah-RC in Sept71, & assistant to Khalaf in Fatah’s Jordan Affairs Bureau (& maintained contacts with Abu Nidal group). Led Fatah’s leftist “Vietnamese” line, & elected onto Fatah-CC in May80. Led dissidents against ‘Arafat in Jan83; membership in Fatah-CC was frozen. As part of power struggle within the “corrective movement”, led his faction into a short-lived merger with the Abu Nidal group to take charge of dissident movement; but Syria seized his office & exiled his supporters.

Ibrahim Abu Lughod: leading Palestinian academic. b.1929, Jaffa, educated at Amariyya school (with Shafiq al-Hut); settled in US after 1948, achieving his BA from Illinois & PhD from Princeton Uni in 1957. Went on to work for Unesco in Egypt, & then later in 1980s in Beirut & Paris, leading team to assess the feasibility of a Palestinian Open Uni in Beirut (abandoned with 1982 invasion). Taught polsci at Northwestern University in 1970s&80s; founded (1968) & led Association of Arab-American Uni Graduates. Elected to PNC in 1977; held informal consultations with USSecSt George Shultz in 1988. Moved to Ramallah in 1991 (> had to give up PNC position), & appointed vice-pres of BZU, helping to establish a faculty of graduate studies. Books inc The Transformation of Palestine (1972) & The Arab Rediscovery of Europe (1963). d.23May01. Obituary here; more extensively in LRB23/24 (13Dec01).

Musa Abu Marzuq: Former head of Hamas political bureau & a key figure in Hamas. b.1951, Gaza to a family from Yabna (nr al-Majdal); studied mechanical engineering at Ayn Shams (Cairo) & worked in UAE industries until 1981. Gained his MA in industrial science from Colorado State Uni and PhD in engineering from Louisiana Tech University (1981-91), and he gained residency rights in the US. Became head of political bureau from its creation in late92, then based in Jordan. Was 1st Hamas leader to publicly accept Israel within 48Ts, in the 1994 'Political Bureau Initiative' (for which he was criticised within Hamas); and is seen to prioritise the notion of liberating Palestine above the Islamicisation of the struggle. Was 1st expelled from Jordan in Jul95, & arrested at New York’s JFK airport. US dropped charges (May97) & returned to Jordan, only to be expelled again when Hamas offices were closed in Aug99. A Yemeni national, he now operates from Damascus, serving as Khalid Mish'al's deputy..
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