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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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Ibrahim al-Daghma: PA Minister of Justice from 9Jun02-29Oct02. Previously served as head of the Fatwa and Legislation Department, based at the Ministry of Justice.

Muhammad Dahlan (Muhammad Yusuf Dahlan): Internal Security Affairs minister from Apr03; previously head of the Preventive Security Force in Gaza, with rank of colonel. Member of Fatah-RC. b.29/9/1961, Khan Yunis camp, Gaza, from a refugee family from Hammama (now Nitzanim). Father worked in Saudi Arabia, and sent money. Former leader of Fatah's Shabiba movement on the West Bank, which he helped found in 1981. Was studying for a BA in business administration at the Islamic University of Gaza when he was arrested by Israel (1981-late86), before being deported in 1988 to Jordan. He then joined the PLO in Tunis, where he coordinated with the intifada. Returned to Gaza in 1994. Believed to have drawn up an agreement at the Rome meeting in Jan94 with senior IDF & Shin Bet officials a plan for containing Hamas (MEI520); frequent member of negotiating team on security issues for Israeli redeployments during the Oslo process, on the return of those expelled after 1967, and on prisoner releases; coordinates with US agencies often. Was a negotiator at the Camp David summit in 2000 (his account is here). Speaks Hebrew fluently. Sharon blamed him for an attack on a settlers' bus in Gaza in Nov00, launched attacks on his offices & and said that he deserved to die. His car was hit by Israeli bullets on 16Apr01. Reportedly tendered his resignation on 5Nov01 in opposition to the PA's policy of arresting PFLP & Jihad members; but refused by ‘Arafat. His article, "Our partners in life in this land", appeared in Ha'aretz on 31Jan02. Was a central figure in running the PA through the "Gang of 5" that took over during ‘Arafat's captivity (Mar-May02), backed by ‘Asfur, ‘Urayqat, Rashid, Sha‘th, and favouring the creation of a unitary security apparatus that could return to an Oslo-style process (and opposing Rajub). However, seems to have been sidelined by ‘Arafat subsequently, resigning on 5Jun02 and claiming to have refused the position of Interior Minister in the new Cabinet. His attempts to gather support for an electoral challenge to ‘Arafat seem to have brought to an end when Bush demanded a change in the Palestinian leadership; refused (in article and interview of 2Jul02) to run in elections in these circumstances. In Apr03, Mahmud ‘Abbas has tried to bring him back as Interior Minister, though ‘Arafat has resisted this; a compromise of 23Apr settled on him as internal security minister.

Ahmad Sidqi Dajani: former director of PLO-RC. From the Jerusalem branch of the Dajani family, he has been a member of PNC from inception in 1964, and served on PLO-EC from 1966-67. In role as director of RC, was the co-founder of Shu’un Filastiniyya. Served on PLO-EC again from 1977-85, on which he was chair of education and culture department. Was also representative of the PLO to the Europe-Arab dialogue. Chair of PNC Cultural, Science & Literature Committee, thus with place on PLO-CC.

Ibrahim Dakkak: Leader of Engineering Union. b.Jerusalem, 1929; studied mathematics & science at the Am.Uni.Cairo. From 1967-87 led West Bank Engineering Union; was chief engineer on al-Aqsa restoration project (1969-77). From 1977-91, chaired the Arab Thought Forum, which he co-founded with Mahdi ‘Abd al-Hadi; & was NGC secretary. Placed under house arrest intermittently from Aug80. Now deputy head of MAS (Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute), & member of the Board of Governors of PECDAR. Leading signatory of the Dec01 statement of secular-national critics of the PA's arrests of activists, and a founding member of the Palestinian National Initiative, launched in Jun02.

Bishara Dawud (Bishara Saliba Sulayman Dawud): nationalist mayor of Bayt Jalla from 1976. Deposed in Sept 1978. Now a PLC member for Bethlehem, as an independent Christian (narrowly elected). Stood for election to PLC Speaker in Mar00: won 6 votes out of 73, in 3rd (last) place.

Mustafa Dudin: anti-PLO leader on West Bank. An officer in the Mandatory Palestine Police, he served in Egyptian administration in Gaza Strip after 1948 up to 1965; after 1968, was Jordanian parliamentarian, cabinet minister & ambassador to Kuwait. After dispute with Jordan (over an offence committed by his brother), he returned to West Bank in 1975; & formed an anti-PLO armed militia, calling itself a "village league", in Dura village, Hebron district, in Aug78. His opposition to the PLO ensured substantial Israeli support, thus creating the Movement of Palestinian Leagues across the West Bank by 1982; Israel accorded municipalities' functions to the Leagues, eg financing rural development projects in member villages, as it deposed elected mayors & commenced Menachem Milson's "civil administration" project in competition with the Palestinian-Jordanian Joint Committees. Called for Palestinian-Israeli talks, with King Husayn representing the Palestinians. Resigned as head of the Village Leagues in 4Sept83, with leadership passing to Jawdat Su’allah from Nablus.

Aziz Dwayk: Speaker of the PLC from 2006; long-standing Hamas member in the West Bank. b.1948, Hebron, from a middle-class family; trained in urban planning, receiving an MA in geography at Binghamton, State University of New York (1983), and a PhD from University of Pennsylvania (1988). Deported to Marj al-Zahhur in Dec92, where became the spokesman to the English-language media for the deportees. On returning, abstained from direct engagement w politics, instead founding Dept of Geography at al-Najjah Uni in Nablus and serving as a professor; only reinvolved himself in run-up to 2006 elections.

Khalid al-Fahum: Former president of the PNC. Was member of 1st PNC & PLO-EC from 1964, serving on EC from 1964-5, 1967-9. Speaker of PNC from Jul71-84, during which time he chaired also PLO-CC from its reestablishment in Jan73. Resigned both positions after he refused to participate in the Nov84 PNC, held in Amman to show the reconciliation with Husayn; became head of PNSF from its establishment in Mar85. Continues to head opposition coordination mechanisms (PNSF, Damascus 10) based in Syria, but seemed to coordinate ‘Arafat's rapprochement with Syria in 2001 after supporting dialogue with him from 1999.

Imad Faluji: PA communications minister from 9May96-29Oct02 & PLC member for Jabalya (one of the youngest members of the PLC); was a Hamas official (editing its newspaper, al-Watan), but left to accept a senior position within the Oslo-based institutions; may have joined Fatah to run on its list for the PLC elections. Most prominent PLC member not to condemn the Hamas bombings of Feb96. Remained critical of ‘Arafat: eg voting against Hebron redeployment agreement.

Salam Fayyad: PA Minister of Finance from 9Jun02. b.1952, Dayr al-Ghassun nr Tulkarm, studied at the AUB (BSc in Engineering) & then in the US; holds a masters in accountancy and a PhD in economics (both from the Uni of Texas). Worked as a university economist before moving to work at the World Bank HQ in Washington from 1987-95. After that, was IMF resident representative in Palestine until 2001(?), based in Jerusalem. With creation of PA, frequently called for greater financial accountability & helped to arrange a package of financial reforms with the Finance ministry, including the overturning of monopolies held by the PA. Was briefly the West Bank head of the Arab Bank before his appointment to the cabinet. Was widely tipped to become prime minister, after ‘Arafat agreed to create this position (Feb03), but seems to have rejected this possibility.

Abdullah Franji: former PLO representative to Germany; coopted onto Fatah-CC in 1991. Author of The PLO and Palestine (1983).

Ilyas Frayj: Mayor of Bethlehem. b.1918/20 [?], Greek Orthodox Christian from one of Bethlehem’s oldest families; employed in the Public Works Department of the Mandatory Govt (with a spell in Cyprus); after 1948, ran his factory in Bethlehem producing olive wood handicrafts, mostly for tourists. Became head of Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce in 1970; mayor of Bethlehem in 1972, & was the main non-nationalist candidate to win in the 1976 municipal elections (tho hemmed in by 3 powerful nationalist/leftist councillors). Also headed Bethlehem Uni board of trustees since 1973. Maintained support for PLO thruout, but also continued his links with Israel & esp Jordan. The only important mayor not to be dismissed in 1982, staying in post until 1997. Initially supportive of Sadat's visit in 1977, though maintained rhetorical loyalty to PLO & acceded in its rejection of Camp David (eg interview in New Outlook 23/1, Jan80). Signed the (unreleased) "Palestinian Peace Document" of Nov82 which recognised the PLO as the sole legitimate representative, but urged them to authorise King Husayn to negotiate on Palestinians' behalf and to accept a confederation with Jordan. Also openly welcomed the Reagan plan due to the urgent need for a 2 State solution before the West Bank was to be engulfed with Israeli settlements (eg. in interview with Newsweek, 14Mar83; July83 interview in JPS 13/1). Was a member of Palestinian delegation to Madrid talks; & was minister for tourism & antiquities in the PA. d. in Amman on 29Mar98, buried in Bethlehem.

Samir Ghawsha: b.1940, Jerusalem, trained as a dentist. Head of PPSF since 1974, and represents it on the PLO-EC. With splintering after commencement of Madrid process, leads the pro-Oslo faction, taking the position of Minister of Labour, then (after voting against the Hebron redeployment agreement in Jan97, and submitting letter of resignation in Jan98) as Minister without portfolio (from Aug98), was not in Cabinet by Mar99. Acted as an "adviser" to ‘Arafat at Camp David in 2000, although his participation appears to have been minimal. Reappointed to PA as Minister for Jerusalem on 29Oct02, losing position in Apr03.

Jawid al-Ghusayn: former head of Palestine National Fund, 1984-1996, now accused of large scale corruption. Early profile here. After abduction in Abu Dhabi in Apr01, he was detained in Gaza; and fled to London from an East Jerusalem hospital on 16Aug02.

Ibrahim Ghusha: Head of Hamas information service from its creation in late92. b.Jerusalem, Nov1936; trained as a civil engineer in Cairo, then working as an engineer in Jordan & Kuwait (1962-6, 71-2). As official spokesman, was based in Amman. Arrested & held by Jordan from Aug99, deported in Nov99 to Qatar. Returned to Amman international airport on 14Jun01, provoking an international dispute between Qatar & Jordan, with latter refusing to let him disembark for 2 weeks. Finally permitted into Jordan on the condition that he freezes his pol work with Hamas.

Muhammad Ghunaym [Abu Mahir]: veteran Fatah leader. A merchant from Jerusalem, former Islamist, left Muslim Brotherhood in 1957-8, to protest against its lack of criticism of the throne's alignment with the US; joined Fatah shortly thereafter. Became regional command of Fatah in Jordan (Feb68), but left for a training course in China (Jun68). After, became 'Arafat's deputy for military admin (Jan69). He ran clandestine operations from Sept71, the civilian organisation in Lebanon, and at present mobilization and organization. A member of Fatah-CC since (1974? 1968?), & was then an ‘Arafat loyalist. Opposed Oslo, & has reportedly refuses to enter the PA areas.

George Habash [al-Hakim, "the Sage"]: Former medical student & paediatrician, from Greek Orthodox Christian family from Lydda. b. there, Aug26 (1925?); witnessed the mass expulsion from Lydda in Jul48. At AUB, formed “Organization to Oppose Pol Settlement with Israel”, & then Arab Nationalists Movement in 1951-2; and was its rep on the Executive Committee of the National Conference, demanding the return of the Nabulsi government in 1957. Estd Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in 1967. Was imprisoned by Syria from Mar68 until being sprung from jail in Nov68, from where he escaped to Jordan. From Apr72, is thought to have had heart trouble, inc a number of heart attacks, and has moved in background, tho was highly critical of 2nd generation leadership at 5th congress (Feb93). From 1982, was based in Damascus, but moved to Amman with deteriorating health in 1992. Resigned from post as S-G of the PFLP in Apr00 in order to set up a research centre. Recent statements are archived here.

Sakhr Habash (Yahya) [Abu Nizar]: Head of Fatah-RC and its Ideological Mobilization Department. b.1939 in Bayt Dajan, nr Jaffa; a refugee first in Ramallah, then in Balata camp (Nablus). Joined the Ba‘thists in 1952; & decided to study geology & water resources at Ein Shams Uni (Cairo) from 1958. From 1960, moved from Ba‘thism to Palestinian nationalism, joining Fatah in 1962 with responsibility for recruitment. He took over Fatah regional command in Lebanon in Oct72. Member of Fatah-CC since Aug89. Loyal critic of ‘Arafat & Oslo; now resident in Ramallah. Interview here. Some interpret his role as that of subduing local Fatah structures (under Marwan Barghuthi, Jibril Rajib) to ‘Arafat's rule; and was appointed as Fatah leader in the PA areas in early 1997.

Wadi‘ Haddad [Abu Hani]: PFLP leader. b.1927, Safad, into Greek Orthodox family; 1948 refugee. Medical student at AUB, grad 1952; participated in the establishment of ANM. Estd Amman clinic with Habash & worked with UNRWA in Jordan Valley in 1956. Arrested by Jordan in 1957; escaped to Syria in 1961. Strongly favoured taking up commando action from 1963, despite Abd al-Nasir's opposition; and active in formation of the "struggle apparatus" that led to the earliest ANM missions. Had direct role in planning the first PFLP plane hijacking in Jul68 of El Al jet; also was key organiser of the Sept70 hijackings. After Black September, was heavily criticised from within PFLP, and was barred from international acts of violence in future. Continued operations under the tag of "PFLP External Operations", coordinating with Abu Nidal group; culminated in the Entebbe operation of Jun76, for which he was expelled from the PFLP (1976). Died in E.Germany of leukaemia on 28Mar78.

Abd al-Rahman Hamad: PA Minister of Natural Resources from 9Jun02-Apr03 & chair of Palestinian Energy Authority (from Feb95; home page here). b.1944, Bayt Hanun; PhD in electrical engineering from Wisconsin Uni (1975), going onto to Unis at Baghdad (1976-80) & Birzayt (1980-94), where he became dean of engineering faculty. Part of Palestinian delegation at Madrid talks; leading role in PECDAR (1994-6), before won seat to PLC (Jabalya) & ministerial appointment, initially as Minister of Housing.

Said Hamami: PLO diplomat. b.Jaffa, 1941; fled with family to Amman in 1948. Received BA in English lit from Damascus Uni; then worked as a journalist & teacher. Joined Fatah in 1967 & rose quickly to be elected a delegate to the PNC in Feb69. Appointed PLO's 1st delegate to the UK (officially as head of the Arab League's Palestine Information Office) from 1972. Was critical of international violence, esp the Black September Organization at Munich. Began, seemingly with ‘Arafat's support, to call for a mutual Israeli-Palestinian recognition in Times articles of 16Nov73 & 17Dec73. Met MK Uri Avineri in 1974, the first meeting between a MK & a PLO leader; came to explicitly support a State in the 1967 Territories, obtained through negotiations at Geneva; and became critical of PLO's continued rhetorical allegiance to the idea of a Democratic State in all Palestine (eg in Trouw, 28Jun75). Assassinated 4Jan78 by the Abu Nidal group; buried in Amman.

Wahid al-Hamdallah: former mayor of Anabta. Placed under house arrest from Aug80, given a suspended sentence of 5 months in prison by an Israeli military court in Tulkarm (9Sept80), then dismissed & replaced with Israeli official on 30Apr82. Again under house arrest on 22Jan89. Signed “Call of the Homeland petition”, and was once again placed under house arrest, this time by the PA, in Nov99, albeit briefly.

Akram Haniya: editor of semi-official al-Ayyam newspaper, & political advisor to ‘Arafat. Member of final status talks team; held leading role in Camp David talks. Previously was editor of al-Sha‘b, for which he was placed under house arrest from Aug80; elected to Fatah-RC in 1989 after being deported in 1987; became an aide to Abu Jihad.

Ismail Haniya (Ismail 'Abd al-Salah Ahmad Haniya): leading figure in Hamas. b.1962, Shati camp, to a family from Ashqulon. Studied Arabic literature at IUG, graduating in 1987. Was imprisoned by Israel for most of period 1988-92, before being deported to Marj al-Zuhhur in South Lebanon. Allowed to return in Dec93, serving as dean of IUG. Was in favour of participation in 1996 PLC elections, putting his name forward initially as an independent candidate before eventually backing down on 2Jan06. Appointed assistant to Ahmad Yassin on his release from prison in 1997. Believed to have been appointed to the three-person collective leadership of Hamas in Palestine in Apr04; led the campaign in the Jan06 elections, and took prime minister's position subsequently.

Hilmi Hanun: Former mayor of Tulkarm. b.1913 [?-WSJ12/10/78 claimed he was 61] in Jaffa, & worked in international citrus marketing [was co-founder of al-Sha‘b newspaper in Jaffa, 1947 - ?]; a ’48 refugee. Served on Tulkarm council from 1951, & elected mayor of Tulkarm in 1963 Jordan elections as a National Front member; retained this position until 1982. A moderate nationalist, supporting PLO from its inception, but striving to maintain relations with both occupying powers. Returned as Tulkarm mayor until removed by PA in 1998 (?) & replaced by an unelected Fatah official.

Bilal al-Hasan: former PDFLP leader & writer. Was an early ANM activist in Damascus, taking a role in the local branch after the 1961 break-up of the UAR. Became a member of the 1st command structure of the ANM’s Palestine Action Committee (established Sept64); then from 1965 acted on the editorial board of al-Hurriyya, where he pressed for early commencement of attacks on Israel, & for independent Palestinian action. Joined PDF politburo after breakaway, & was its 1st rep to the PLO-EC (from Sept69), but strongly objected to PDF’s confrontational stance towards Jordan in early70. Left PDF politburo & PLO-EC in 1971. Went on to become editor of Shu'un Filastiniyya and a respected journalist.

Hani al-Hasan [Abu Tariq, Abu-l-Hasan]: Fatah leader. b.1937/9, Haifa; refugee in Yarmuk camp, nr Damascus, where he organised an Islamist slate, Shabab al-Aqsa, to compete in student elections; & joined  Muslim Brotherhood in early50s. Went on to study engineering in the late50-60s in W Germany (Darmstadt & Munich), where he worked through the Union of Palestinian Students in Europe, and acted as Fatah’s main Europe link after he merged his own commando group to Fatah in 1963 until 1967; also served as President of GUPS from 1962. Served as regional head in Jordan briefly in early 1970; then S.Khalaf’s deputy in Rasd. From 1974, acted as political aide to ‘Arafat; then as ambassador to Tehran; then to Amman from 1982. Retains good ties to the Gulf States. Became a member of Fatah-CC in May80. Criticial of the leadership's stance towards Iraq after Aug90, & at Oslo; but returned to Gaza Strip in Nov95, and became the chief political adviser to ‘Arafat as well as PLO-CC member & head of the PNC foreign relations committee. Appointed as Interior Minister on 29Oct02, favouring continued resistance to occupation forces and settlers (unlike Yahya, his predecessor), whilst opposing attacks on civilians in Israel; Mahmud ‘Abbas attempted to drop him from the PA cabinet, but despite ‘Arafat's resistance, he was replaced in Apr03, and is slated to act as ‘Arafat's national security adviser.

Khalid al-Hasan (Khalid Muhammad al-Hasan) [Abu Sa’id]: Fatah leader. b.1928 in Haifa, the oldest of 6 children; worked for British military in 1948 & evacuated to Sinai. Later joined family who were refugees in Sidon; then moved to Damascus where he formed a short-lived group, Tahrir Filastin, in 1949. Also had worked in E.Africa, imprisoned in Egypt; but through his job as a teacher in Damascus in the early 1950s helped found the Islamic Liberation Party in 1952. After being arrested in late52, left to work as a civil servant in Kuwait, rising from a position as a typist to General-Secretary of the Municipal Council Board, and was awarded Kuwaiti citizenship. In parallel, he came into contact with Fatah from 1959; is thought to have become a full member in 1963; was possibly the leader of the first Fatah CC, & opposed the commencement of military actions on Israel in 1964-5. On PLO-EC from 1968-73 as head of Pol Department, but resigned at Jan73 PNC due to his opposition to the resolution to overthrow the Jordanian monarchy (claimed to Cobban, PLO, that it was because PLO-EC did not take his recommendation to consider the WBG State option). After 1973, became head of the PNC foreign relations committee; also built & maintained Fatah's strong links with Saudi from 1969. Made argument at Fatah-CC meeting in Shtaura after Oct73 war that Palestinian struggle could only continue with WBG State, as Arab States were looking to make peace with Israel. Thought to have been the author of the "Fahd memorandum" of May77, which formed the basis of discussion with US before Sadat's visit. Made "unofficial" Palestinian 5-point proposal in tour of EEC in Apr-May 1980, for Israel's withdrawal from OTs, replaced by UN forces which will make arrangements for the creation of a WBG State within 1 yr; followed by international negotiations at which remaining issues will be dealt with. Was generally opposed to military means, stressing collective leadership & democratic values. Broke with ‘Arafat due to latter's position in the Gulf War, but was nonetheless stripped of Kuwaiti citizenship. Moved to Morocco, where he was author of Grasping the Nettle of Peace (1992) in which he proposed a “Swiss-style confederation” in which citizens would vote according to their canton. Opposed to Oslo, due to lack of democratic decision-making; but d.10/94 from cancer.

Nayif Hawatmah [Abu al-Nuf]: head of DFLP. b.Nov35 (37?) in Salt, Jordan, a Greek Catholic Christian; studied pol & economics in Amman, Cairo & Beirut, then returned to Jordan to join the ANM, and became a leading member of the leftist wing. Brief periods of pol activity in Lebanon (1958), Iraq (1958-63, as head of ANM) & S.Yemen (1963-7) before he was allowed to return to Jordan. There, he helped found the PFLP, of which he became one of the left-wing leaders. Went onto found P/DFLP.
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