Mohammed Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini (Arabic:محمد ياسر عبد الرحمن عبد الرؤوف عرفات القدوة الحسيني, 24 August 1929 – 11 November 2004), popularly known as Yasser Arafat (ياسر عرفات) or by his kunya Abu Ammar (أبو عمار), was aPalestinian leader and a Laureate of the Nobel Prize. He was Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), and leader of the Fatah political party, which he founded in 1959. Arafat spent much of his life fighting against Israel in the name of Palestinian self-determination. Originally opposed to Israel's existence, 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. He was "revered by many Arabs," and the majority of the Palestinian people, regardless ofpolitical ideology or faction, viewed him as a freedom fighter who symbolized their national aspirations. However, he was "reviled by many Israelis".
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 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 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 on 11 November 2004 at the age of 75. While the exact cause of his death remains unknown and no autopsy was performed, his doctors spoke of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura and cirrhosis.
Birth and childhood
A portrait of young Arafat, 1940s
Yasser Arafat was born in Cairo to Palestinian parents. His father, Abdel Raouf al-Qudwa al-Husseini, was a Palestinian from Gaza; whose mother, Yasser's paternal grandmother, wasEgyptian. Arafat's father worked as a textile merchant in Cairo's religiously mixed Sakakini District. Arafat was the second-youngest of seven children and was, along with his younger brother Fathi, the only offspring born in Cairo. His mother, Zahwa Abul Saud, was from aJerusalem family. She died from a kidney ailment in 1933, when Arafat was four years of age.
Arafat's first visit to Jerusalem came when his father, unable to raise seven children alone, sent him and his brother Fathi to their mother's family in the Moroccan Quarter of the Old City. They lived there with their uncle Salim Abul Saud for four years. In 1937, their father recalled them to be taken care of by their older sister, Inam. Arafat had a deteriorating relationship with his father; when he died in 1952, Arafat did not attend the funeral, nor did he visit his father's grave upon his return to Gaza. Arafat's sister Inam, states in an interview with Arafat's biographer British historian Alan Hart, that Arafat was heavily beaten by his father for going to the Jewish quarter in Cairo and attending religious services. When she asked him why he would not stop, Arafat responded by saying that he wanted to study their mentality.