Yasser Arafat

Yasser Arafat, One of the greatest world leaders in History, the Father of the Liberation and voice of freedom for the state of Palestine. He was also the Chairman and founder of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), and leader of the Fatah political party and former paramilitary group.

Born in 24 August, 1929 at Jerusalem, His full name was Mohammed Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa (محمد ياسر عبد الرحمن عبد الرؤوف عرفات‎‎‎). As a teenager in the 1940s, Arafat became involved in the Palestinian cause. Arafat studied civil engineering at the University of Cairo in Egypt and completed graduation in 1950. During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Arafat left the University and, along with other Arabs, sought to enter Palestine to join Arab forces fighting against occupying Israeli troops. He headed the Palestinian Students League and, by the time he graduated, was committed to forming a group that would free Palestine from Israeli occupation. In 1956 he founded Al Fatah, an underground organization, set with a vision to free Palestine from Israeli occupation. At first Al Fatah was ignored by larger Arab nations such as Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, which had formed their own group. Then it wasn’t until the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, when the Arabs lost the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and West Bank, that Arab nations turned to Arafat. In 1968 he became the leader of the PLO which he founded in 1959. Yasser Arafat was the leader who led the PLO for over 40 years and managed the uneasy balance between militancy and diplomacy in the Middle East. For two decades long, the PLO launched bloody attacks on occupying Israel forces.

Originally opposed to Israel’s illegal occupation to the land of Palestine, he modified his position in 1988 when he accepted UN Security Council Resolution 242. Arafat and his movement operated from several Arab countries. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Fatah faced off with Jordan in a brief civil war. Forced out of Jordan and into Lebanon, Arafat and Fatah were major targets of Israel’s 1978 and 1982 invasions of that country. But, by 1988, when he told the United Nations that the PLO would recognize Israel as a sovereign state, Arafat had warmed to diplomacy.

Arafat and Fatah’s center for operations was based in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, until 1993. In 1985 Arafat narrowly survived an Israeli assassination attempt when Israeli Air Force bombed his Tunis headquarters, leaving 74 people dead. Before & after this, he had been attacked several times in several places. But he was able to survive every attack. Later in his career, Arafat engaged in a series of negotiations with the government of Israel to end the decades-long conflict between it and the PLO. These included the Madrid Conference of 1991, the 1993 Oslo Accords and the 2000 Camp David Summit. His political rivals, including Islamists and several PLO leftists, often denounced him for being corrupt or too submissive in his concessions to the Israeli government. In 1993, he met for secret peace talks in Norway, which led to the Oslo Peace Accords with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin.

In 1993 he led the PLO to a peace agreement with the Israeli government. In 1994 Arafat received the Nobel Peace Prize, together with Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, for the negotiations at Oslo. During this time, Hamas and other militant organizations rose to power and shook the foundations of the authority that Fatah under Arafat had established in the Palestinian territories. In January 1996 Arafat was elected the first president of the Palestinian Council governing the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, Israeli encroachments on Palestinian territory continue, as does Palestinian resistance.

In late 2004, after effectively being confined within his Ramallah compound for over two years by the Israeli army, Arafat became ill, fell into a coma and died at Percy military hospital in Paris on November 11, 2004 at the age of 75. While the cause of Arafat’s death has remained the subject of speculation, investigations by Russian and French teams determined no foul play was involved.

In his speech on the General assembly of the United Nations in 1974, Yasser Arafat said-“I came to you today bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter’s gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.” The majority of the Palestinian people—regardless of political ideology or faction—viewed him as a heroic freedom fighter and martyr who symbolized the national aspirations of his people and to the people around the world.