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The following biographical notes have been compiled (unless otherwise indicated) by Dr Glen Rangwala of Trinity College, Cambridge, and also appear on his own website. Any corrections and additions should be sent to

Mahmud ‘Abbas [Abu Mazin]: 

Fatah founder member. 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, and from there managed to organise Palestinian groups and 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 two-state solution (declared 1Jan77). Member of PLO-EC from Apr 81; took over OTs portfolio after death of Abu Jihad. Commenced secret talks with Israelis through Dutch intermediaries in 1989; and 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 and has headed the PLO’s Negotiating Affairs Department from its creation in 1994. Serves as PLO head of international relations. Has risen to position of ‘Arafat’s deputy, is Sec-Gen of the PLO-EC (from Apr 96). Returned to Palestine in Jul 95. His large new residences in Gaza and Ramallah have led to accusations of corruption. His account of the negotiations is Through Secret Channels: The Road to Oslo (1995).

Muhammad ‘Abbas [Abu-l-‘Abbas]: 

Leader of PLF. b.1940s, Galilee; refugee to Syria who studied English and Arabic literature at Damascus Uni. After spell in PFLP, joined PF-GC in 1973 becoming its spokesperson. But opposed PF-GC’s support for Syrian invasion of Lebanon > formed PLF in Apr 77; seat on PLO-EC from Nov 84. Was arrested after Achille Lauro affair, after US diverted his plane to Italy, but soon released. US also forced him off PLO-EC in Oct 91. Entered PA areas for Apr 96 meeting of PNC, and apologised for murder of Leon Klinghoffer.

‘Issam ‘Abd al-Hadi

Long term leader of GUPW. b.1928, Nablus and based there until 1969, active in West Bank women's movement from 1949 and attended 1st PNC in this capacity, which led to the formal establishment of GUPW in Jul 65, based in Jerusalem with assistance of the PLO's Department of Popular Organizations. Jordan banned activities of GUPW in 1966. Imprisoned and then deported (in Apr 69) 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 Jul 74, and voted against accepting SCR 242 in 1988. Became president of General Union of Arab Women in 1981, and vice-pres of International Democratic Union of Women (1981-92). Returned to West Bank in mid-93.

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, wh competed in League of Palestinian Students in mid-50s. Then with Hani al-Hasan, coordinated Palestinian activism from W.Germany, and led this group into a merger with Fatah in 1963/4. Went on to lead Fatah groups in Egypt (wh began to build relations with Nasir’s government) and Syria. Military training in China (Jul-Dec 67); and again, after appointed Fatah’s rep to Cairo, in Egypt in mid-69. Became head of security apparatus in Fatah from Apr 73, taking over from Najjar, and co-opted on this basis into Fatah-CC. Assassinated in Jan 91, together with Salah Khalaf, by the Abu Nidal faction.

Fu’ad ‘Abd al-Karim [Abu Ahmad Fu’ad]: 

PF military commander. ANM cadre before 1967, then PF sector commander for Jordan Valley (1967-70). A loyalist to Zabri, and promoted by him to military command in 1972. Is cousin of Sa‘id Muragha, whom he helped in plotting a coup in Jordan in mid-70. Based in Damascus.

Khalid ‘Abd al-Majid

Head of dissident faction of PPSF since Apr 92, coordinating with the Damascus 10 in opposition to Oslo. Based in Damascus.

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 and died there. Studied English lit at Cairo Uni, a Nasirite, but joined Fatah in 1965, and 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 three months, was transferred to Ansar prison camp in S.Lebanon, wh 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 Mar 98); and then given PA cabinet position, with new position to combat settlements, in Aug 98. Member of Negotiations Affairs Department, with special responsibility for Israeli settlements. Lives in Za'atra, SE of Jerusalem.

  • Profiles here and here; also relates his life story in Lynd, ed., Homeland, pp.66-70, 106-11, 122-45. 

Hatim ‘Abd al-Qadir

Leading Fatah member in Jerusalem. The secretary of the Jerusalem Committee in the PLC. Critic of corruption (calling for fresh elections in May 97 budget scandal) and 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, wh 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-Dec 67); 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 Aug 89. PLC member (Fatah) for Tulkarm, with highest votes in district.

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 mid-70s, taking a strongly anti-Syria line during the Lebanon war. Later became head of Fatah’s information services; Fatah-CC member from early 90s.

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.1935, Jerusalem. Rose through ANM and 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) and Amman. Member of PLO-CC from 1977. Head of PA's High Council for Refugee Camps, established in late97.

Haydar ‘Abd al-Shafi

Gazan physician. b.Gaza, 1919, son of a Waqf custodian in Gaza and Hebron. Graduated in medicine from AUB in 1943, working briefly in Jaffa hospital and 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); wh PLO established in 1964, was member of 1st PLO-EC (1964-5) and became a member of the opposition to Shuqayri on it. Captured by Israel after ‘67, and held in isolated Sinai camp for three months in 1969; then deported for two months to Lebanon on 12 Sept 70 in retaliation for PF hijacking. Thereafter, was founder and director of Palestinian Red Crescent soc from 1972, providing free medical care and a forum for cultural activities. After vocal opposition to Camp David, was prevented from leaving Gaza, and 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 Apr 93, but resumed position under pressure – only to urge the suspension of Palestinian participation in the talks in May 93. 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 pol committee. Resigned from PLC in Oct97. Walked out of Apr 96 PNC meeting, after ‘Arafat refused to allow him to present his case for not amending the PN Charter until Israel gave reciprocal recognition.

(Adib) Yasir ‘Abd-Rabbu: [Abu Bashir]: 

PA minister of information, culture and the arts, and S-G of Fida. b. Jaffa, 1944/45; MA in Economics and Pol.Sci from Am.Uni Cairo. Came into ANM-PFLP around 1967, and was key figure in 1968 breakaway of P/DFLP, wh he became deputy S-G and its rep on PLO-EC from 1973, heading Info and Culture department (1977-94). Has been consistently close to ‘Arafat, and took part in dialogue with Jordan and US 1988-90. After 1990-1 split and formation of Fida, he was a member of the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid talks and 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; but resigned in May 2000 when secret talks in Sweden revealed.

Samir Abdullah

Palestinian economist, 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 Apr 93.

Ziyad Abu Amr

PLC member for Gaza city. b.1950; BA in English lit and language from Damascus Uni; worked as a teacher in Bahrain, Oman, Syria; then MA and PhD (1986) from Georgetown Uni on comparative pol. Teaches pol sci at BZU; books on Islamist movements and politics in Gaza 1948-67. Connected to Centre for Policy Analysis on Palestine (Washington) and Centre for Palestine Research and Studies (Nablus). Chair of PLC Pol committee, member of PLO-CC. Opposed amending the PN Charter at Apr 96 PNC, until Israel gave reciprocal recognition of Palestinian right to statehood; criticised PA for arresting leftist activists in Dec 01 statement.

Radwan Abu Ayyash

Journalist. b.1950, from Askar camp, Nablus. Starting work with al-Sha‘b from 1975, and 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, and thereafter spokesman for Palestinian NGOs at UN. Appointed the head of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation in 1993, based in Ramallah.

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, wh 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; and is still active politically, eg addressing major right of return rally in Amman in Dec 01.

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, wh an Israeli missile hit his van outside Nablus.

Samih Abu Kuwayk [Qadri]: 

Former Fatah leader. Originally a Ba‘thist, he joined Fatah in 1962-3, and served as secretary to Fatah’s regional command in Jordan from 1969 (briefly replaced by Hani al-Hasan in early 70), became a member of Fatah-RC in Sept 71, and assistant to Khalaf in Fatah’s Jordan Affairs Bureau (and maintained contacts with Abu Nidal group). Led Fatah’s leftist “Vietnamese” line, and elected onto Fatah-CC in May 80. Led dissidents against ‘Arafat in Jan 83; 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 and 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 and PhD from Princeton Uni in 1957. Went on to work for Unesco in Egypt, and then later in 1980s in Beirut and Paris, leading team to assess the feasibility of a Palestinian Open Uni in Beirut (abandoned with 1982 invasion). Taught polsci at NWn Uni in 1970s and 80s; founded (1968) and 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), and appointed vice-pres of BZU, helping establish a faculty of grad studies. Books inc The Transformation of Palestine (1972) and The Arab Rediscovery of Europe (1963). d.23 May 01. 

Musa Abu Marzuq

Former head of Hamas political bureau and a key figure in Hamas. b.1951, Gaza to a family from Yabna (nr al-Majdal); studied engineering at Ayn Shams (Cairo) and worked in UAE industries until 1981. Gained his PhD in the US (1981-91), wh he gained residency rights. Became head of pol bureau from its creation in late 92, then based in Jordan. Was 1st Hamas leader to publicly accept Israel within 48Ts. Was 1st expelled from Jordan in Jul 95, and arrested at New York’s JFK airport. US dropped charges (May 97) and returned to Jordan, only to be expelled again when Hamas offices were closed in Aug 99. A Yemeni national, he now operates from Damascus.

‘Abd al-Muhsin Abu Mayzar

PNF leader and PLO-EC member. b.1931/3 in Hebron, joined Ba‘th party whilst studying law in Cairo in 1951; became a Jerusalem lawyer and member of Jerusalem city council from 1955. Secretary of Ba‘th party in Jerusalem district from 1956, but went underground from 1957, before leaving for Syria, wh became a leading Ba‘thist. Ed of al-Wahda newspaper from 1958, then ed-in-chief of Lebanese daily al-Sahafa (1961-2), and ed. of Syrian official newspaper al-Ba‘th (1963-5). In 1964, was member of Syrian delegation to NAM conference and part of committee drafting Syrian constitution. Returned to Jerusalem in 1965 amnesty, and after occupation was member of Isl Supreme Council and leader of Higher Committee for National Guidance. Acted within the PNF until deportation (Dec 73); made head of PNF in Mar 74 and appointed to PLO-EC (Jun 74) to serve as head of national, pan-Arab and returnee affairs; and then as EC spokesperson (1974-84). Left PLO-EC in 1984, and became official spokesman of the PNSF.

Furayh Abu Midayn

PA Minister for Justice and Gaza lawyer (LLB from Alexandria Uni, 1971). b.1944, Gaza, tho family from Beersheba (wh grandfather was mayor). Head of Gaza Bar Assoc from 1989-94; member of Palestinian delegation to the Madrid process; pro-Fatah PLC member for Dayr al-Balah. Most famous for calling for all Palestinians wh sell land to Jews to be killed; for justification of death sentences; and for denouncing Palestinians' NGO sector. Voted against Hebron redeployment agreement.

Ismail Abu Shanab

Hamas leader in Gaza. b.1955; trained as a construction engineer at Colorado State Uni; teaches engineering at Gaza Isl Uni. Served as a deputy to Ahmad Yasin, and was imprisoned for seven years for this. On release in late 96, led the Hamas slate that won 8/11 seats on Gaza Engineering Association. Served as Hamas’ observer to the PLO-CC, and is their rep to the National and Islamic Forces. Seems to accept a settlement based on SCR 242.

Majid Abu Sharar

Biographical details supplied by his son: Born in 1934 in Dura (Hebron, Palestine). Married with three children (two girls and one boy). Received his elementary schooling in Dura. Received his BA in Law from Alexandria (Egypt). Established and headed Fateh movement in Saudi Arabia in 1966. Head of Fateh movement Media Department since 1968. Head of Palestine Unified Media Department since 1972. General Secretary of Fateh Revolutionary Council (1971-1980). Member of Fateh Central Committee (1980). Member of the higher command of the Occupied Territories / Fateh Movement. Member of Palestine National Council. Member of Palestine Liberation Organization Central Council. Member of the General Secretary Committee for Palestinian writers and Journalists. Head of Palestinian – Soviet friendship Committee / Lebanon Branch. Has numerous articles and two published books (Sour Bread & Palestinian Israeli conflict). Was assassinated in Rome – Italy by the Mossad while attending a conference in solidarity with the Palestinian writers and Journalists. 

Contributions: Developed PLO media department through an up to date means addressing Western audience. Largely contributed towards strengthening Palestinian - Soviet relations. Established relations with many Eastern-Western European leftist parties. Central figure that always worked towards dialogue and unity among all Palestinian Factions. 1st PLO senior official to meet with US officials in Rabat, Morocco. 1st PLO senior official to meet with Israeli Communist Party in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Was viewed by many different media outlets and among his peers as the new shining star within the Palestinian leadership.

Bassam Abu Sharif (Bassam Tawfiq Abu Sharif) [Abu Umar]: 

Former PFLP leader. b.1946, Old Jerusalem; father had worked for Palestine Broadcasting Service before moving to Irbid. Studied at AUB (grad.1967) wh became invd with ANM; founding member of PFLP, in CC from 1968, politburo from 1972. Deputy ed (Jul 69-) and ed (1972-) of al-Hadaf, and served as PF’s spokesman. Partially blinded by Mossad letter bomb (25 Jul 72). Became sec to GUPWriters and Journalists (1972-), International Org of Journalists (1974-). Within PF, favoured closer cooperation with Fatah; but removed from politburo wh pro-Syria line under Abu ‘Ali came to dominate in 1981; demoting to running external relations. In drawing closer to ‘Arafat, he met Husni Mubarak (1987) > expelled from PF, and became special advisor to ‘Arafat. In a non-partisan role, cd float compromise plans (eg his Jun 88 art for a two-state solution) > preparing Palestinians for Madrid and Oslo compromises. Returned to Ramallah in 1996, and retains role as ‘Arafat’s special advisor, often writing unofficial statements of the Palestinian position. 

  • Co-authored Best of Enemies with Uzi Mahnaimi, an Israeli intelligence officer (1995).

Ziyad Abu Ziyad (Ziyad ‘Ali Khalil Abu Ziyad): 

b.1940, Bethany, Jerusalem. PA minister and PLC member for Jerusalem. Grad from Damascus Uni in law (1965). Former editor of al-Fajr newspaper (from 1977), pro-Fatah; noted for his willingness to make compromises with Israel; became ed and publisher of Gesher (Bridge, 1986-), a bi-monthly Hebrew-language Palestinian newspaper. Nevertheless, was still arrested by Israel for “subversive activities” on 13Nov90. Head of advisory committee to Madrid process. Delegate to ACRS multilateral talks. Remains co-editor of P-I Journal. Became PA minister without portfolio in mid90s, then made minister for Jerusalem on Faysal al-Husayni’s death. 

  • An in-depth interview on Jerusalem is here.

Ahmad ‘Afana [Abu al-Mu‘tasim]: 

Former assistant chief of staff of al-‘Asifa; took over role from 1982. Earlier, was a Syrian army officer, and then – after joining PLO – commanded PLO-LNM joint forces in Matn area in Lebanese civil war. Based in Damascus. Reportedly coopted onto Fatah-CC. Refuses to enter PA area.

Zakariyya al-Agha

Head of Fatah High Command in Gaza since mid-1994 and so coopted as Fatah-CC member, member of PLO-EC since Apr 96 with responsibility for the Arab and IR department, and former PA minister for housing from 1994. A medical doctor by training, from Gazan notable family. Was a Palestinian delegate to the Madrid talks. An ‘Arafat loyalist, his nomination as leader in Gaza was strongly opposed by grassroots activists. Failed in his bid to become a PLC member in Jan 96, and left ministerial position.

Albert Aghazarian

Most prominent Palestinian Armenian. b.1950, Jerusalem; BA in polsci from AUB (1972). Editorial board of al-Quds (1973-5), moving to teach and work in public relations at BZU. Headed press centre during Madrid conference.

‘Abd al-Rahim Ahmad

Head of ALF from 1975 (possibly '74) until his death in 1991. Was member of PLO-EC from 1977, serving as head of the Department of Popular Organizations and also from 1982 as official spokesperson.

Shaykh Sa‘ad al-Din al-‘Alami

West Bank religious leader. b.1911, Jerusalem; became Shari‘a qadi in Ramallah (1948-51), Nablus (1951-3); then Mufti of Jerusalem from 1953; also became member of the Shari‘a appeal ct in Jerusalem from 7/67, and went on to become head of the Islamic Board and Chief Qadi in the West Bank for most of the 1970s and 1980s. Sympathetic towards Fatah, calling for Hafiz al-Asad’s death when he expelled ‘Arafat and Wazir from Syria in Jun83. Died on 6 Feb 93.

Naji ‘Allush

Fatah dissenter, academic, poet. b.1935, Birzayt, wh also educated. Moved to Kuwait in 1956, and began publishing works on revnaries from 1960; major work inc al-Tariq ila Filastin (Beirut, 1968), and his history of the 1936-39 revolt. An early recruit to Fatah, but maintained links with covert groups, inc the nascent Abu Nidal splinter. Was the only Fatah delegate to oppose the "phased programme" in the PNC in Jun74, and resigned position (in Fatah-RC - ?); and was briefly detained in Aug74, on the grounds of assisting Abu Nidal. Four collections of poetry from 1967.

Nabil ‘Amr (Nabil Mahmud Yusif ‘Amr): 

Former PA minister for parliamentary affairs from Aug 98; was editor-in-chief of al-Hayat al-Jadida and director of the PA radio and TV authority; former PLO ambassador to Moscow. Is a Fatah-RC member, and is PLC member (Fatah) for Hebron. Resigned his ministry on 3 May 02, demanding overhaul of PA and changes to the cabinet.

Yasir ‘Amr

Former PA minister of education, member of PLO-EC. Was leading Ba‘thist nationalist activist in Hebron/Bethlehem after 1967. After deportation, served as pro-Sa‘iqa secretary of PLO-EC until 1970/1. Returned to PLO-EC, where he remains. Was widely criticised for the heavy-handed way he dealt with striking teachers; resigned his position in the PA in Aug 98.

Basil Aql

Former director of PLO’s pol department; head of Palestinian delegation to the UN during mid-1970s. Now a businessman and an independent member of the PLO-CC.

Mamduh ‘Aqr

Physician. b.1943, Nablus; joined ANM and then PFLP (1967-70); trained in Cairo Uni medical school (grad.1969); worked in Kuwaiti hospitals (1970-3) before further training in Edinburgh and London. Founded the Mandela Institute for Palestinian pol prisoners. Palestinian delegate to the Madrid talks. A critic of the PA, he signed the secular-nationalist statement of Dec 01 oppg the PA's arrests of activists.

Yasir ‘Arafat [Abu Ammar]: 

b. Md ‘Abd al-Ra’uf al-Qidwa al-Husayni on 4 Aug 29 in Cairo (tho are claims that it was Gaza or Jerusalem), a distant relative of Hajj Amin, and from a Gaza-based family. After his mother died in 1933, lived with uncle and brother Fathi in Jerusalem. Claims to have fought under ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni and with the Ikhwan in Gaza and Jerusalem in 1948; and to have participated in Ikhwan attacks on British installations in Suez in early 50s, as well as serving with Egyptian army in the Suez war. Rose through the Palestinian Students Union that he was president of from 1952 (and through it took on an international role, eg at Warsaw Youth festival, Jul 54), whilst studying as an engineer at Fuad I (now Cairo) University, until the formation of Fatah. After graduating in 1957, left to work in Kuwait public works and construction. Spokesman for Fatah since Apr 68; PLO-EC chairman since Feb 69. Married Suha (b.1963, daughter of Raymonda Tawil; a Christian wh nominally converted on marrying) in secret in Tunisia in 1990; has a daughter, Zahwa (b.1995). Closest shave was probably when his plane crashed in a desert sandstorm nr al-Sarra (Sn Libya) on 7 Apr 92: 3 crewmen killed, ‘Arafat found 12 hrs later. Awarded Nobel peace prize in Dec 94. 

Hasan ‘Asfur

Long-term negotiator in the Oslo process. Was secretary to the Palestinian negotiating team that concluded initial Oslo negotiations; he produced a draft joint declaration of principles. Became PA minister without portfolio from Aug 98, and then minister of NGO affairs, independent PLC member for Khan Yunis. Leading figure in the PPP. Was attacked (and hospitalised) by suspected supporters of Rajub due to his alignment with Dahlan (13 May 02).

  • Pessimistic interview in MEI 583. 
Na'im al-Ashhab (Abu Bashar): 

JCP/PPP leader. b.1929, Hebron, tho family moved to Jerusalem's German colony in 1934. Worked as a junior official in British mandate administration from 1945 (narrowly escaping King David Hotel blast). Refugee to Hebron in 1948; and immediately joined NLL and moved back to Jerusalem. Repeatedly arrested by Jordan from Feb 51, and, exc for short period of the Nabulsi government, was underground from Oct 54 to rearrest in Aug66 and solitary confinement at Zarka for 10 months. After occupation, ran West Bank affairs for JCP, opposing involvement in military activities which he saw as counterproductive (he blamed the influence of Maoist and Trotskyist ideas for the PLO's stance, in World Marxist Review 17/4, Apr 74); portrayed role of group more as discouraging emigration, non-violent protest. Israel repeatedly arrested him from Jan 68 for distributing leaflets, and in prison he learnt Hebrew but became ill and nearly blind; after an international campaign, was released and deported in Aug 71, moving to Moscow (for treatment) and Prague wh he represented JCP/PCP on international communist boards. Elected onto PNC and PLO-CC in 1987; retired from PLO and PPP institutions in 1991, though continues to represent PPP to Israeli communist groups. Returned to West Bank in May 93. Is now a regular columnist for al-Ayyam newspaper and speaker on human rights, democracy and Jerusalem. In Jun 01 article, he condemned suicide bombings and shooting from inhabited areas. 

  • Extensive profile here.

Hanan ‘Ashrawi (Hanan Mikhail Da’ud Khalil ‘Ashrawi): 

PLC member for Jerusalem; human rights activist. b.1946, Nablus (tho family from Tiberias and Ramallah), a Anglican Christian, daughter of Da’ud Mikhail, a leader of Sulayman al-Nabulsi’s National Soc Party. Family settled in Ramallah after 1948. Worked through GUPW in Lebanon (1967-72), PLO Information Office (1968-70) whilst studying English lit at AUB; and then at Uni of Virginia (PhD in medieval lit in 1971) after not being allowed to return to the West Bank from 1967-73 due to being defd as an "absentee". On return to West Bank, became Professor of English Lit at Bir Zayt (1974-95), wh established BZU’s legal aid committee and was dean of the Faculty of Arts (1986-90); married Emile Ashrawi, a photographer (1975). As a non-partisan figure, has played a strong role in representing Palestinians in negotiations from late 80s wh PLO members were excluded from talks. On the advisory council of, and spokeswoman for, Palestinian delegation at Madrid process from Oct 91, tho critical of the Palestinian leadership’s stance: attempted to resign in Aug 93 with Oslo, but resignation refused; finally left the negotiating team in Dec 93 to form and head Miftah, a pro-democracy NGO, of which she remains the Sec-Gen. Then became PA Minister for Higher Education (1996-98); leaving to vote against the PA Cabinet in Aug 98, despite being offered the tourism portfolio. Appointed as spokeswomen of the Arab League on 11 Jul 01, with special responsibility for Palestinians. 

‘Atallah ‘Atallah [Abu Za’im]: 

Dissident Fatah leader, based in Amman. From Hebron; served in Jordanian army until dismissed in 1968. Recruited to Fatah wh he was given command of Fatah forces in S.Lebanon from spring 1971, charged by ‘Arafat with implementing the policy of tajyish (ie turning guerrilla forces into a conventional army), launched in Jul 71. Rivalry with Walid Nimr resulted in competing deployment of forces (set up a unit, Martyrs of Sept battalion, Shuhada’ Aylul, for this purpose). From early 1972, ‘Arafat appointed him as head of central operations in Lebanon, and then to Fatah military intelligence. In this role, was head of Palestinian delegation to Milkart negotiations in 1973. Attempted (unsuccessfully) to coordinate relations with Falangists before the Israeli invasion; and lead attempts to negotiate with Sharon during the siege of Beirut. Headed Fatah’s investigation into its conduct during the Lebanon war; but was sacked by Fatah-CC from his position after he came under wide-ranging criticisms during the Fatah rebellion in 1983 for his role in the PLO withdrawal from Lebanon. From 1986, was coopted by King Husayn: launched a “corrective movement” in Jordan within Fatah on 8 Apr 86; and with Jordanian support convened a conference that “elected” him as caretaker chairman of the PLO; and allowed to take over PLO offices and funds = took key role in Jord’s attempts to win back support in West Bank, coordinating with West Bank leaders. Nevertheless, by early 87 many of his supporters had returned to the PLO, and an attempt to assassinate him in Jan 87 was not investigated by Jordan.

Hanna Atrash (Hanna Khuri al-Atrash): 

Non-nationalist mayor of Bayt Sahur in mid-60s and again from 1976. Still there.

Ribhi ‘Awad

Fatah’s representative to Cairo in the mid-1970s. Then became PLO representative to Finland in early 80s; now ambassador to Indonesia.

‘Arabi ‘Awwad

From the village of Salfit nr Nablus, a teacher of Arabic literature. Secretary of JCP in West Bank and active in establishing the PNF. Imprisoned for 11 years under Jordanian rule; deported in Dec 73. Went on to found in 1980 the Palestine Communist Organisation of Lebanon as a branch of the JCP; and when this collapsed in 1982, formed the Palestinian Revolutionary Communist Party in Lebanon, supporting continued armed struggle.


Hakam Bal‘awi (Hakam Omar As‘ad Bal‘awi): 

b.1934, nr Tulkarm. Former Palestinian ambassador to Tunisia, PLC member for Tulkarm (Fatah), and member of Fatah-CC since Aug 89; Fatah rep on PLO-CC. Has been portrayed in the past as a possible successor to ‘Arafat, and ran for Head of Intelligence post after Abu Iyad’s death; but historic leadership opposed this. An ally of Sakhr Habash, he has clashed with Rajub, eg being forced out of a Fatah rally in Jan 98. Seems to have been assigned a role in 2001 in taking close control over Fatah on the West Bank, in order to restrict local autonomous leaders.

Sabri al-Banna [Abu Nidal]: 

b.1937, Jaffa; a 1948 refugee in Gaza, later moving to Nablus. An electrician by training. Originally a Ba‘thist (from 1955), but later moved to Saudi, formed own liberation group in mid60s, but joined Fatah in 1967 on returning to Amman. Took over control for regional security in Jordan (Jun68); became Fatah’s rep to Sudan (1969) and then as rep in Baghdad (1970), and later also as head of PLO office there. Devd close relations with Iraqi intelligence from 1971, and joined with rejectionist groups to form the "Pol Committee for Palestinians in Iraq" in early 1974, wh strongly criticised DFLP and denounced the PLO leadership: this body was not recognised by PLO-EC, leading to Banna taking over Fatah facilities in Iraq, inc weaponry; expelled from Fatah; is sentenced to death after his involvement was suspected in assassination attempt on Abu Mazin. Set up an office as the Fatah-Revolutionary Council (see notes below). Iraq removed him in 1983, to placate US; commenced work for Syria, but after US pressure, was forced to close camps in Sept 86. Moved to Libya in late 80s, when his inactivity was enforced by the government. Since 1998, believed to be living in Egypt, working for government in conflict with Islamist groups; various international rumours about his leukaemia, probably false; other rumours about being based in Baghdad, also probably false. Sentenced by trial in absentia to death for the murder of the Jordanian embassy in Lebanon's first secretary, on 3 Dec 01.

Bashir Barghuthi (1931-9/9/00): 

Communist leader and newspaper editor, from Dayr Ghassana village, Ramallah district; studied polsci and economics at AmUniCairo, and was an activist in GUPS there until graduation in 1956. Owned al-Jamahir (The Masses), a communist paper, from 1956; but was closed down on 25/2/57 and Barghouti was imprisoned for 8 years at Jaffar detention camp. On release in 1965, was refused a license, so wrote under an assumed name. After ‘67, became stern critic of Jordan, esp of Husayn’s right to speak for Palestinians. Allowed to return to West Bank in 1973; but was put on trial in 1974 for ‘spying’, but acquitted. In 1975, took control of JCP wh Suleiman Najjab was deported. Served as editor of al-Fajr from 1975 until Fatah began to oppose his pol stance in 2/77; went on to found al-Tali‘a in 2/78. Put under house or town arrest from Aug 80-2, preventing him from working. Became member of PLO-EC in 1987, and served to broker agreement between Fatah and PFLP, and played a leading role in the intifada, creating the 1st popular committee. Remained S-G of PCP/PPP, taking a key role in Oslo negotiations. Became minister of industry in first PA cabinet (Jun 96), but a stroke in 1997 left him without speech; reappointed as minister without portfolio in 1998. 

Marwan Barghuthi (Marwan Hasib Husayn al-Barghuthi): 

S-G of Fatah Higher Committee in the West Bank. b.1959 and raised in Kafr Kubr. Was among founders of Shabiba in the West Bank and headed its faction at BZU in early 80s, as president of student council. Imprisoned for six years and deported by Israel in 1987 to Jordan; became member of Fatah-RC in Aug 89, coordinating relations between inside and outside; also an independent member of the PLO-CC. Returned to West Bank in Apr 94, and soon became head West Bank Fatah S-G. ‘Arafat ensured that he was not on the Fatah-PLC slate, but won Ramallah seat as an independent. Is close to Jibril Rajub and has good relations with Islamist groups. Critical of centralization of power under ‘Arafat; submitted motion of no-confidence in the executive in the PLC in May97 budgetary misuse scandal. Israel demanded his extradition, and seems to have made an assassination attempt on 4 Aug 01. Arrested by Israel in Ramallah on 15 Apr 02.

Mustafa Barghuthi (Mustafa Kamil Mustafa Barghuthi): 

b.1954; physician, president of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, leader of the PPP, director of the Health, Development, Information and Policy Institute (HDIP) in Ramallah, Palestine. HDIP produces Palestine Monitor, wh distributes info on behalf of Palestinian NGOs. PNC member (PPP); stood for election to PLC (Ramallah district), and narrowly missed out, despite a recount.


Last revised on 06 October, 2013