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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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Jamal Khudari: former president of IUG.

Sami Kilani: director of the Community Service Centre at al-Najjah Uni; was part of the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid process.

Abd al-Raziq al-Majaydah: Major-General; S-G of the PA’s High Security Council, in charge of public security in PA areas. Was ‘Ayn Jalut forces battalion commander (1967-73), brigade operations officer (1973-6), commander of brigade units in Lebanon (1977-82). Was head of civil police in Gaza until elevation to his current post [?]. Member of PLO-CC.

Jamil al-Majdalawi: senior PFLP member: 1 of their 2 reps on the PLO-CC, & rep to the National & Islamic Forces. Head of the PFLP Political Office; based in Gaza. In detailed Jan01 interview, declared that armed struggle was not the only way to liberation, but other forms of struggle were equally valid.

Abd al-Rahim Malluh [Abu Sharif]: PFLP deputy S-G, non-participating member of the PLO-EC (from 1991). b.1945, Jaffa; refugee in 1948 to Jiflik. Moved to Kuwait in 1963; & became part of PLA in Baghdad. An early member of PFLP; claims to have been injured in battle of Karama (Mar68), curiously given PFLP's retreat before Israel's invasion. Was close to Zabri, & was made military commander by him from 1972; on politburo from 1973. Imprisoned in Jordan 1977-8; commander of PFLP forces in Beirut in 1982. Requested (& obtained) permission from Israel to return to the West Bank in 1998; and was wounded by a rubber bullet to his shoulder when Israeli troops fired on an anti-settlement demonstration at 'Asira, nr Nablus, on 28Mar98. Became head of PFLP's political department in 2000. Stood for election to the post of PFLP's S-G in Oct01, but defeated by Sa'dat > became deputy S-G instead. Arrested by Israeli forces on 12Jun02. Official biography here.

Zuhayr al-Manasra: Head of the Preventive Security Force in the West Bank from 4Jul02. b.1943 in Bani Na'im village, nr Hebron. Attended universities in Syria and Frankfurt, Germany, where he obtained an MA in Economics (1972). Worked as a professor of economics, before joining the PLO in Tunis. Fatah member, and on its Revolutionary Council; also a member of the PNC. Returned to the West Bank in 1996, when appointed to the Governorship of Jenin district. Father of four. Interview from May02 is here. His surprise appointment as head of the PSF (after the ousting of Rajub) was accompanied by protests, both popular and by other security force leaders (subsequent interviews from 8Jul from FT and Times).

Jamal al-Mansur (Jamal ‘Abd al-Rahman Mansur): Hamas leader in West Bank, b.1960, Balata camp. Rose to prominence as an Islamist student leader at al-Najjah; early leader of Hamas, deported to Marj al-Zahur in Dec92, & became spokesman of Hamas delegation to dialogue with PA & major organiser of Hamas pol activities in the West Bank. Spent 5 years in Israeli jails, two in PA custody. Released in late 2000; but murdered 31Jul01 from an Israeli helicopter missile strike on his office in Nablus.

Hikmat al-Masri (1905/7 in Nablus; d.Dec94): powerful Nablus notable, active in the Palestinian revolt of 1936-9. Served as deputy for Nablus in the Jordanian Parliament 1950-7, & was a leading member of the National Socialist Party; pro-royalist & for Arab unity. Was speaker of the Jordanian Parliament from 1952-3, ’56-7; minister of agriculture 1953-4. Was chair of the “National conference” that convened in Nablus out of 200 delegates, inc a majority of deputies, after the dismissal of the Nabulsi government in Mar57, to promote its reinstatement; with failure, he resigned from Parliament. Moved to Jordanian Senate in 1962-71, sometime its acting chairman; & again until 1988. PLO vice-president in 1964. His criticism of Husayn for Black September led to his detention in Amman. When PLO was considering a Govt-in-Exile in mid-70s, was widely touted as its potential PM. 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.

Mahir al-Masri (Mahir Nash‘at Tahir al-Masri): PA minister of economy, trade and industry (the portfolio for industry was added on 9Jun02) from 9May96. PLC member for Nablus (Fatah); won first place in the Fatah primaries for Nablus in 1995. Said to have run a very flashy campaign. b.25/12/46 in Nablus; MA in economics from AUB, working as a businessman in Beirut (1973-5), Jordan, Saudi & Nablus (1987-96), where he was the manager of the Vegetable Oil company. Leads Palestinian negotiators in economic talks with Israel, responsible for negotiating the 1994 Paris economic protocol. Was a member of the 3-man delegation to Washington in Aug02. Brother of Tahir al-Masri – senator, former deputy (1973-4, 1984-97), ambassador (to Spain, Belgium, UK), FM (1984-1988), deputy PM (1989), PM (Jun-Nov91) – of Jordan, who has been nominated for Arab League general commissioner for civil society.

Hajj Ma‘zuz al-Masri: mayor of Nablus after Hamdi Kan‘an resigned on 12Mar69; officially taking up post on 16Jun69. An entrepreneur, he held extensive financial interests in the EBnk & was consistently pro-Jordan. Was a long-standing member of Nablus municipal council from 1951. Agreed to run in 1972 elections, after Kan‘an withdrew, under strong Israeli pressure & despite PLO urging; was elected. Did not run in 1976 elections, despite Israeli pressure, & became more vocal in his criticism of Israel when the Sebastiyya settlement was established; gave his support to the successful nationalist bloc. Died in Aug94.

Zafir al-Masri: former mayor of Nablus. b.1942; deputy mayor of Nablus in late70s; appointed mayor by Israel in Dec85 with PLO approval. Took on role of coordinating ties between Jordan & West Bank leaders. Assassinated on 2Mar86 by PFLP, which portrayed him as leading the West Bank in the direction of civil autonomy under Israeli rule. Funeral was attended by 50,000 West Bankers.

Muhammad Milhim (Muhammad Ayyash ‘Abd al-Jawad Milhim): graduate in English literature, teacher & nationalist. Deputy mayor of Halhul until 1976; mayor thereafter. Deported on 2May80 for allegedly inciting violence; perpetuated, despite SC condemnation & legal appeals. Appointed to PLO-EC in Nov84. Has returned & is again mayor of Halhul, as well as PLO-CC member. Stood as independent for election to PLC in Hebron, but not elected.

Khalid Mish’al: head of Hamas political bureau from 1996. b. 1956, Silwad, Ramallah; displaced from 1967 to Kuwait, where he remained until 1990. Leader of Islamic bloc at Kuwait uni, where he trained in physics (& taught this in schools). After 1990, lived in Jordan, rising to leader of the external branch of Hamas in 1996, after Abu Marzuq's arrest. The target of an attempted Israeli assassination in Jordan in Sept97; expelled from Jordan in Nov99, and now based in Damascus. Led Hamas delegation for talks with Fatah in Nov02 in Cairo, to agree a common strategy, denying that it would lead to a cessation of operations.

Zuhayr Muhsin: Sec-Gen of Sa‘iqa from 1971 to 1979. b.1936, from Tulkarm. Trained as a teacher in Amman, but lost his job in Jordan due to Ba‘thist activism; then moved to Qatar, Kuwait & then Syria in 1967. As an Asad loyalist & Ba‘th party member, was appointed to head Sa‘iqa when the pro-Jadid leadership was purged. A member of the PLO-EC throughout his leadership of Sa‘iqa, he served as head of the military department. Was repeatedly promoted by Syria to become chairman of the PLO-EC whenever dissatisfied with ‘Arafat (esp during early76 clashes). Famously declared that the assertion of Palestinian identity was just a tactical manoeuvre in the struggle (Mar77 interview). His family's house in Tulkarm was picketed after gave support to Syria in 1976 Lebanon clashes with Palestinians. Was assassinated in Cannes on 15Jul79.

Hilmi Muhtasib: from Hebron; member of Shari‘a ct of appeals, based in Amman, at the time of occupation; became Director of Shari‘a Affairs from Jul67, and then head of Islamic Board & chief Qadi when al-Sa’ih was deported in Sept67.

Sa‘id Musa Muragha [Abu Musa]: head of Fatah's dissident wing in Lebanon. b.1927; served in Jordanian army & trained at Sandhurst military academy. By 1970, had turned against Jordan & planned unsuccessful coup there in mid70. Joined PRM that year, rising to the position of colonel within Fatah, commander of PLO forces in South Lebanon (1972-77) & deputy military head of PLO operations room in Lebanon (1977-82). Syria attempted his assassination in 1978. On Fatah-RC from 1980-83. Led PLO's defence of Beirut in 1982; but was deeply critical of the leadership's stance, esp with ‘Arafat's appointment of his loyalists over more capable officers. Began open criticism in May83, resulting in fracturing of Fatah's forces & open fighting in Oct83; his faction has been popularly known as Fatah-Uprising, assisted by Syria; has retreated from active role through 1990s.

Ahmad Musa (Ahmad Shawqi Mahmud al-Musa): mayor of Jenin from 1976, dismissed by Israel (6Jul82).

Muhammad al-Musallami: Former PFLP leader. From Gaza, originally a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but joined ANM in 1956-7. Became member of PF’s 1st politburo (Feb69), responsible for OTs, esp coordinating operations in Gaza. Failed to win reelection to PF politburo in Feb93.

Sulayman al-Najjab (Sulayman Rashid al-Najjab) [Abu Firas]: former leader of the JCP. b.1934(?), from Jibya village; joined JCP soon after its creation. Arrested soon after Apr57 dismissal of Nabulsi's government & imprisoned for 8 years in al-Jafar camp. Was active in creating the PNF & arrested in 1974. After 9 months in administrative detention, was deported from West Bank in Feb75. As deputy S-G, was 1st JCP leader to be appointed to the PLO-EC, in Apr87 & had key role in bringing about the reconciliation of fida'i factions. Acted as an advisor to ‘Arafat at Camp David talks in 2000. Retained PLO-EC position until his death (from cancer, in the US) in Aug01; buried in Ramallah. Tribute here.

Muhammad Yusif al-Najjar [Abu Yusif]: Founding member of Fatah. b.1929, refugee from Yibna (al-Majdal); grew up in Rafah camp, Gaza. A member of the Muslim Brotherhood before 1948, he was arrested by Egypt in early54 for participation in demos for a Palestinian army; & imprisoned for 2 years from Mar55 for protesting Egyptian resettlement of Palestinian refugees in N Sinai. With Ikhwan’s decline in Egypt & its refusal to support a separate armed organisation, left to become a founder of Fatah. Worked as a teacher, & was active in setting up early Fatah groups in Saudi & Qatar; member of Fatah-CC from creation until his death. Became head of Fatah’s new security apparatus (in Sept71), & coordinated al-‘Asifa; also thought to have a leading role in Black Sept Org. Member of first fida’i PLO-EC from Jul68, & became head of Pol Department in Jan73. Also, as chair of committee coordinating Palestinian affairs in Lebanon, brokered relations with Lebanese government after Cairo agreement. Killed together with his wife in the Israeli raid on Beirut, 10Apr73.

Muhammad Zuhdi Nashashibi: Former PA Finance Minister, losing position on 9Jun02. A former Palestinian Ba‘th leader in Syria after 1960, pro-Nasir in opposition to anti-Nasir stance of Syrian Ba‘th. Long term PLO-EC member, heading the Economics department; is chair of PNF. Also chairman of the Board of Trustees of al-Quds University; and a member of the PA's High Council for Refugee Camps.

Hanna Nasir: President of BZU. b.1936, Jaffa. Studied at AUB & received PhD in nuclear physics from Purdue Uni, US. Founder of BZU, acting as its president until his deportation in Nov74 for tolerating the demonstrations that accompanied ‘Arafat's speech at UNGA. In exile, was based in Amman, serving on PLO-EC from 1981-84, with role as head of PNFund from Feb83; later had responsibility for Higher Education on PLO committees. Returned to West Bank in May93, resuming position at BZU. Remains chair of PNC education committee & thus on PLO-CC. Is cousin of Kamal Nasir.

Kamal Nasir (Kamal Butros Nasir): Palestinian poet and PLO leader. b. Gaza, 1925, tho family is from Bir Zayt. Educated at AUB, worked as a teacher whilst studying law in Jerusalem. After 1948 worked as a journalist: produced al-Ba‘th newspaper from Ramallah, then set up al-Jil al-Jadid, a literary periodical. Elected as Ba‘th member for Ramallah district in 1956 elections, but expelled from Parliament during the subsequent martial law period. Expelled from West Bank by Israel in 1967; became editor of PLO newspaper, Filastin al-Thawra, & member of PLO-EC from Feb69 where served as official spokesman and the head of National Guidance, exc for late70-Jul71, until his murder in Israel’s Beirut raid of Apr73. Only published one collection of poetry, Jirah Tughanni (1961), though others collected from his writings after his death. More extensive description of writings is here.

Amin Nasr (Amin Ibrahim al-Nasr: "Muhammad Samih"): nationalist mayor of Qalqilya from 1976; arrested on 22Sept80 for publishing a leaflet that condemned the "burden of the Israeli occupation". Altho retained his position after 1982, was placed under town arrest in 1983. Stood as independent for election to PLC in Qalqilya, but not elected.

Fu’ad Nassar: JCP leader. b.1914 in Nazareth, & became part of anti-colonial movement from 1929. Commanded an insurgent detachment in 1936-9 revolt. Imprisoned in Iraq. Returned to Palestine in 1943 to take leadership of NLL; also became secretary of Arab Workers Congress (from 1945). Became 1st leader of JCP in 1951; was jailed by Jordan until 1956 when released by Nabulsi government. After Husayn’s counter-revolution, was exiled & supported (in opposition to JCP acting leadership) fida’iyyun & opposed SCR242; creator of al-Ansar. Was 1st JCP member to be accepted into PNC in 1/73. d.1976.

Mustafa Natsha (Mustafa ‘Abd al-Nabi Natshah): mayor of Hebron. b.1930; chairman of Arab Cement Company; deputy mayor of Hebron 1976-Jul83, when deposed. Member of Palestinian delegation to the Madrid process. Appointed as mayor by PA in 1994.

Rafiq al-Natsha [Abu Shakir]: PA Minister of Agriculture from 9Jun02. Formerly served as PA Minister of Labour, from Aug98. b.1934, Hebron, and trained in political science (MA from Cairo Uni, PhD from Moscow Uni). Worked in the Qatari ministry of education from 1956 to 1970, rising to head of the minister's office. Served as Fatah's rep to Saudi Arabia; elected to Fatah-CC in May80. PLC member for Hebron. The author of a number of books on Palestinian history.

Mamduh Nawfal: DFLP & Fida leader. Military commander of DFLP & politburo member (up to 1990); may have had a role in the Ma’alot operation (15May74); member of DF’s Nov74 delegation to SU. Took a role in mediating between the Fatah factions in Lebanon in mid80s. Then left to help establish Fida, of which he became a politburo member. Also member of PLO Higher Military Committee, & PNC. An ally of ‘Arafat, he took on roles within the PA: was made a member of the Palestinian National Security Council, and the Presidential Advisor for Internal Affairs. Signatory to 20Jun02 statement in al-Quds appealing for an end to suicide bombings.

Muhammad Nazzal: Hamas rep in Jordan from 1992; b.1963, Amman to a family from Qalqilya; trained in Kuwait & Pakistan as a chemist.

Walid Nimr (Walid Ahmad Nimr) [Abu ‘Ali Iyad]: early Fatah leader. From Qalqilya; taught in Algeria & trained in its army in 1964. Recruited through Wazir, & moved to join Fatah field command in Damascus (1965), and briefly assumed control of Fatah when ‘Arafat was arrested (1966), until he too was arrested; thought to have negotiated with Asad to determine Fatah’s role in Syria. Ran the influential training camp for recruits at al-Hama in Syria in 1968. Became member of Fatah-CC with overall responsibility for Syria & Lebanon. Strongly urged PRM to pull back from Amman before Black Sept, but to no avail. Killed by Jordanian forces at ‘Ajlun in Jul71.

Anwar Nusaybah: (Anwar Zaki Nusyabah, 1913-11/86). Leading pro-Jordanian notable in West Bank. b. in Jerusalem, from family that is the historic custodians of the key to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; studied at al-Rawda college (old Jerusalem) & Arab College; & then Perse school & read law at Queens College (grad.1934), both in Cambridge, UK. Married Nuzha, refugee from Ramle (& later president of the World Muslim Women's Organisation). Became a district judge in Jerusalem & joined the Husayni faction; became secretary of the Jerusalem National Committee in 1948, to administer the city; & then secretary of the cabinet of the All-Palestine Government. Wrote memoirs in 1949 on the defeat in the 1948 war, highly critical of the British. Had also lost a leg in the 1948 war, after stepping on a landmine. Was coopted by Jordan; became deputy for Jerusalem in Apr50, & served as the Chief Arab delegate to the Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission in 1951; then was inter alia Jordanian defence minister (from 1952-5, intermittently), minister for construction & development (1952-4, intermittently), minister of education; appointed to the Senate in Mar53 (resigning when returned to Parliament in 1954) & again from Nov63, when also served as Governor of Jerusalem; & then ambassador to London (1965). Was a founder member of the Arab Constitutional Party (established 1956 under Tawfiq Abu al-Huda). After occupation, was a leading West Bank supporter of Jordan, living in Jerusalem; and argued from 1967 for a Palestinian acceptance of the 1947 Partition Plan (eg in New Outlook, 11/2, Feb68). Chairman of Jerusalem Electric Company in 1980s. Buried within Haram al-Sharif. Another profile is here.

Sari Nusaybah (Sari Anwar Nusaybah): former PLO representative in Jerusalem. b.1949[?], Shaykh Jarrar in E.Jerusalem, son of Anwar. Studied PPE at Oxford (1971), received a PhD in Islamic Philosophy from Harvard (1978); became professor of philosophy at BZU (1978-90). Married to Lucy Austin, daughter of J.L.Austin; 4 children; resident in Bayt Hanina, but awaiting permission to build on purchased land in Abu Tor. Founder & head of the Palestinian Consultancy Group, undertaking research projects on the management of Palestinian infrastructure. Was the first prominent Palestinian to hold talks with a senior Likud politician, Moshe Amirav, in 1987; was assaulted by Palestinian activists for this. Later in 1987, became a prominent advocate for Palestinian enfranchisement within a democratic Israeli-Palestinian state, arguing that Palestinians could not overcome Israeli hegemony given that their own consciousness is shaped by Israel (Jun87 al-Fajr seminar; reprinted in al-Fajr 9Aug87); seemed to support Israeli de jure annexation of West Bank. Arrested in 1991 & charged with betraying military information to Iraq. Became member of the Palestinian steering committee to the Madrid talks & co-authored No Trumpets, No Drums (1991) with Mark Heller, calling for a 2 State solution in Palestine; has written dozens of other articles on Jerusalem & the prospects for agreement with Israel. Often coordinates with Meretz & Yossi Beilin in Israel. President of al-Quds University from 1995. Appointed to Jerusalem position in early Oct01; since then, has strongly criticised the direction of the intifada, calls for the Palestinian refugees to give up their rights to return to their homes in the 1948 Territories, says that he would have accepted Barak's offer at Camp David. Arrested briefly in Dec01 for arranging an Id al-Fitr celebration under the auspices of the PLO in Jerusalem; and his offices at al-Quds University were raided and sealed, and his files taken away, when the Israeli police shut the university down in early Jul02. On 2Sept02, he released the final draft of a joint peace initiative with Ami Ayalon, former head of Shin Bet, to end the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, based on return to the 1967 lines and with no Palestinian right of return; aims to obtain 1 million signatories to the initiative (under the title of "the People's Voice"; website here). On 19Dec02, he both announced his intention to cease cooperation with Israel after a colleague from Nablus was arrested by Israeli troops; and that ‘Arafat had taken over the Jerusalem portfolio from him.

Faruq al-Qaddumi [Abu Lutf]: head of PLO’s Political Department in Tunis (PLO’s ‘Foreign Minister’), & Fatah central committee member. b.1931, Jinsafut in Qalqilya district (SW of Nablus), but grew up in Haifa; with 1948 war, returned to Nablus. Left for Saudi to work as a personnel officer for ARAMCO in 1952-4; then trained in economics & polsci in Cairo (grad. 1958), where worked through GUPS; became a Ba‘thist, but left after break-up of UAR & joined Fatah. Moved between Libya, Saudi & Kuwait (where he worked for the Health Ministry until expelled) until 1965/6. Settled in Damascus. Joined PLO-EC in 1969 to lead Department of Pop Orgs; then headed the pol department from 1973 → extensively devd contacts with Arab States through 70s, tho remained close to Syria & Iraq. Thought to have been close to Sa‘id al-Muragha’s Fatah Uprising movement, and rumours that he nearly joined it in 1983. Instead, became S-G of Fatah-CC. Rejected the Oslo process, refused to sign DoP (replaced by ‘Abbas), become a minister in PA or even enter PA areas (eg for 1996 PNC, for which he said he was too busy), but continued to serve as FM, & accepted appointment as director of Palestinian Economic Council for Development & Reconstruction (PECDAR), although leaving its operation to Qurai‘. Is seen by many members of Fatah-CC who reject Oslo as a potential successor or replacement of ‘Arafat, but has little popularity in West Bank & his role has largely been taken over by Abu Mazin and Nabil Sha‘th.

Isam al-Qadi: S-G of al-Sa‘iqa forces from 1979, taking over after Zuhayr Muhsin's assassination. Rose through the Palestinian Ba‘th party, of which he was S-G from 1972, and was a politburo member of the pan-Arab command from 1975. Joined PNC & PLO-CC in the same year. Served briefly as head of the military dept on the PLO-EC from Sept79-80.

Walid Qamhawi: PNF leader. b.1924, grew up in Nablus, & trained as a physician at AUB; grad in 1947, then specialised in surgery at Cairo Uni; returned to Nablus to work with Iraqi Red Crescent in May48 & ran their hospital there until May49; then set up a maternity hospital, & promoted family planning (further training in Ireland & Sweden in early60s). Briefly joined ANM in early 1950s. Established the Cooperative Cultural Club in Nablus, which served to promote Palestinian artists, in 1956-7, closed due to its closeness to Nabulsi government; & was arrested intermittently over the next few years, esp when became head of Nablus branch of the Ba‘th (after Bassam Shak‘a left for Syria). Also was council member of Jordanian Medical Association (1957-) & its chair 1963-9 (honorary from 1967). ANM member of the 1st PLO-EC, when became strongly opposed Shuqayri & denounced Bourguiba in Tunis (Apr65); resigned from EC (May65). After occupation, helped establish al-Maqassad hospital in Jerusalem; was deported for 2 months to Lebanon on 12Sept70 in retaliation for PF hijacking. In West Bank, became a leader of PNF & deported again on 10Dec73, this time to Jordan & permanently. Resumed position on the PLO-EC from 1974, as head of PNFund (also building links with UN agencies & development NGOs) & frequently clashed with ‘Arafat (offered resignation in ’77 & ’79); finally resigned in Apr81. Retired to Rabieh, Amman, where he sought & failed to establish al-Quds Open University (project terminated in 1989), finally won permission to reenter West Bank in 1993. Author of “Catastrophe & Construction” (al-Nakba wa al-Bina’a, 1956; blaming backwardness of Arab civilisation for the Palestinian situation, and calling for unconditional unity), and memoirs (2000).
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