of Yasser Arafat
Article added on February 13, 2001;
updated on April 7, 2002 and on July 25, 2006.
Buy Jewish sheet music.
Biography of Yasser Arafat
(* in Cairo on August 27, 1929 - † near
Paris on November 11, 2004)
to the biography by Christophe Boltanski and Jihan El-Tahri (Les sept
vies de Yasser Arafat, 1997; get it from Amazon.fr),
Yasser Arafat was born in Cairo, Egypt,
in 1929 as
Mohammed Abderrahman al-Qudwa (and not in
Jerusalem as Mohammed Abdal Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husaini of the famous
Husaini family). The son of a wealthy textile trader lived in Cairo until
the age of 28. He fought for an Egyptian group against Israel in 1948-49
and subsequently served in the Egyptian military. In 1951,
Arafat began to study civil engineering
at the University of Cairo. He also became a bomb expert. From 1952
to 1956, he presided over the League of Palestinian Students. In
1956, he joined the Egyptian Army as
the reserve officer in the war against France, Great Britain and
1957 to 1965, Arafat lived in Kuwait, where he worked as a construction
engineer. There, in 1959, he was a co-founder of the Palestinian
movement Al Fatah, the Palestine liberation movement and, later, was declared its spokesman.
In 1968, Arafat joined the PLO,
founded in 1964, and was elected its chairman. He suffered a setback in
1970/71, when his attempt to overthrow Jordan's King Hussein failed. In
1973, Arafat became Commander
in Chief of the forces of the Palestinian Revolution. Among the
violent actions committed by Palestinian groups was the assassination of
members of the Israeli Olympic team in Munich in 1972 by the newly founded
organization "Black September". Other setbacks like the loss of
his power base in Lebanon led Arafat in 1985 to try to make peace with
Jordan's King Hussein, with the US as a mediator. But the attempts failed.
Arafat was also involved in the terrorist attack on the luxury liner "Achille Lauro"
which further undermined his credibility. In 1986,
King Hussein ended the collaboration with the PLO and closed down all Al Fatah's
offices in Jordan. At the
end of 1987, the first Intifada began. In
1988, Arafat proclaimed in the name of the exiled Palestinian Parliament in Algiers
the "State of Palestine". At the same time, the Palestinian
National Council officially renounced terror as a means to pursue its objectives.
At the end of 1988, Arafat announced
the Declaration of Independence and the establishment of an
independent Palestinian state. In 1993, the PLO and state of Israel
mutually recognized each other officially. A few days later, Arafat signed
the Palestinian-Israeli Declaration of Principles
at the White House in Washington. In October 1993, Arafat was elected
by the Central Council of the PLO to be the President of the
Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and President
of Palestine Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR).
In October 1994, he received
the Nobel Peace Prize, together with then Israeli Minister of Foreign
Affairs Shimon Peres and former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (assassinated in
1995). On January 20, 1996, Arafat was elected President of the Palestinian National Authority in a general election.
In October 1998, he signed the “Wye River” memorandum with the former Israeli Prime
A first report about Yasser Arafat's illness was released on October 25,
2004. Four days later, the French government flew him to a military
hospital near Paris where, on November 3, 2004 he fell into a coma and
was pronounced dead on November 11.
Check also the articles on Ariel
Barak and Shimon