MOHAMMED Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa  popularly known as Yasser Arafat or by his kunya Abu Ammar was a Palestinian leader. He was Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), and leader of the Fatah political party and former paramilitary group, which he founded in 1959. Originally opposed to Israel 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 1978 and 1982 invasions of that country.
Arafat remains a highly controversial figure whose legacy has been widely disputed. 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, while many Israelis have described him as an unrepentant terrorist. Critics have accused Arafat of mass corruption, secretly amassing a personal wealth estimated to be USD $1.3 billion by 2002 despite the degrading economic conditions of the Palestinians.
Later in his career, Arafat engaged in a series of negotiations with the government of Israel td 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. The cause of his illness and subsequent death became a matter of dispute.
Arafat was born in Cairo, Egypt. His father, Abdel Raouf al-Qudwa al-Husseini, was a Palestinian from Gaza City, whose mother, Yasser’s paternal grandmother, was Egyptian. Arafat’s father battled in the Egyptian courts for 25 years to claim family land in Egypt as part of his inheritance but was unsuccessful. He 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 a Jerusalem-based family. She died from a kidney ailment in 1933, when Arafat was four years of age.
Yasser Arafat 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 C 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 stated 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 Arafat why he would not stop going, he responded by saying that he wanted to study Jewish mentality
In 1944, Arafat enrolled in the University of King Fuad I and graduated in 1950. He later claimed to have sought a better understanding of Judaism and Zionism by engaging in discussions with Jews and reading publications by Theodor Herzl and other prominent Zionists. At the same time, he became an Arab nationalist and began procuring weapons to be smuggled into the former British Mandate of Palestine, for use by irregulars in the Arab Higher Committee and the Army of the Holy War militias.
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 Israeli troops. However, instead of joining the ranks of the Palestinian fedayeen, Arafat fought alongside the Muslim Brotherhood, although he did not join the organization. He took part in combat in the Gaza area (which was the main battleground of Egyptian forces during the conflict). In early 1949, the war was winding down in Israel’s favor, and Arafat returned to Cairo from a lack of logistical support.
After returning to the University, Arafat studied civil engineering and served as President of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) from 1952 to 1956. During his first year as president of the union, the University was renamed Cairo University after a coup was carried out by the Free Officers Movement overthrowing King Farouk I. By that time, Arafat had graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and was called to duty to fight with Egyptian forces during the Suez Crisis; however, he never actually fought. Later that year, at a conference in Prague, he donned a solid white keffiyeh-dlfferent from the fishnet-patterned one he adopted later in Kuwait, which was to become his emblem
In 1990, Arafat married Suha Tawil, a Palestinian Christian when he was 61 and Suha,
27. Before their marriage, she was working as a secretary for Arafat in Tunis after her
mother introduced her to him in France. Prior to Arafat’s marriage, he adopted fifty Palestinian war orphans. Arafat narrowly escaped death again on 7 April 1992, when an Air Bissau aircraft he was a passenger on crash-landed in the Libyan Desert during a sandstorm. Two pilots and an engineer were killed; Arafat was bruised and shaken.
During her marriage, Suha tried to leave Arafat on many occasions, but was not permitted to by her husband. She views her marriage to Arafat as a mistake. Suha said she regrets the marriage and given the choice again, would not have wed him. On 24 July 1995, Arafat’s wife Suha gave birth to a daughter in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. She was named Zahwa after Arafat’s deceased mother. Arafat’s full name was Mohammed Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa. Mohammed Abdel Rahman was his first name, Abdel Raouf was his father’s name and Arafat his grandfather’s. Al-Qudwa was the name of his tribe and al-Husseini was that of the clan to which the al-Qudwas belonged. al-Husseini was based in Gaza and should not be confused with the well- known, but unrelated, al-Husayni clan of Jerusalem.
Since Arafat was raised in Cairo, the tradition of dropping the Mohammed or Ahmad portion of one’s first name was common; notable Egyptians such as Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak did so. However, Arafat also dropped Abdel Rahman and Abdel Raouf from his name as well. During the early 1950s, Arafat adopted the name Yasser, and in the early years of Arafat’s guerrilla career, he assumed the nom de guerre of Abu Ammar. Both names are related to Ammar ibn Yasir, one of Muhammad’s early companions. Although he dropped most of his inherited names; he retained Arafat due to its significance in Islam.
Following the Suez Crisis in 1956, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, a leader of the Free Officers ‘Movement, agreed to allow the United Nations Emergency Force to establish itself in the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip, causing the expulsion of all guerrilla or “fedayeen” forces there—including Arafat. Arafat originally attempted to obtain a visa to Canada and later Saudi Arabia, but was unsuccessful in both attempts. In 1957, he applied for a visa to Kuwait (at the time a British protectorate) and was approved, based on his work in civil engineering. There he encountered two Palestinian friends: Salah Khalaf (“Abu lyad”) and KhaIil al-Wazir (“Abu Jihad”), both official members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Arafat had met Abu lyad while attending Cairo University and Abu .Jihad in Gaza. Both became Arafat’s top aides in future politics. Abu lyad traveled with Arafat to Kuwait in late 1960; Abu Jihad, also working as a teacher, had already been living there since 1959. After settling in Kuwait, Abu lyad helped Arafat obtain a temporary job as a schoolteacher.
As Arafat began to develop friendships with Palestinian refugees (some of whom he knew also from his Cairo days), he and the others gradually founded the group that .became known as Fatah. The exact date for the establishment of Fatah is unknown. In 1959, the group’s existence was attested to in the pages of a Palestinian nationalist magazine, filastununa Nida al-Hayat (Our Palestine, The Call of Life), which was written and edited by Abu Jihad. FaTaH is a reverse acronym of the Arabic name Harakat al- Tahrir al-Watani aI-Filastini which translates into “The Palestinian National Liberation Movement”. “Fatah” is also a word that was used in early Islamic times to refer to “conquest.”
Fatah dedicated itself to the liberation of Palestine by an armed struggle carried out by Palestinians themselves. This differed from other Palestinian political and guerrilla organizations, most of which firmly believed in a united Arab response. Arafat’s organization never embraced the ideologies of the major Arab governments of the time, in contrast to other Palestinian factions, which often became satellites of nations such as Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and others.
In accordance with his ideology, Arafat generally refused to accept donations to his organization from major Arab government in order to act independently of them. He did not want to alienate them, and sought their undivided support by avoiding alliances with groups loyal to other ideologies. He worked hard in Kuwait, however, to establish the groundwork for Fatah’s future financial support by enlisting contributions from the many wealthy Palestinians working there and other Gulf States, such as Qatar (where he met Mahmoud Abbas in 1961). These businessmen and oil workers contributed generously to the Fatah organization. Arafat continued this process in other Arab countries such as Libya and Syria.
Arafat and his closest companions migrated, in 1962, to Syria-a country sharing a border with Israel-which had recently seceded from its ephemeral union with Nasser’s Egypt. Fatah had approximately three hundred members by this time, but none were fighters. In Syria, he managed to recruit members by offering them higher incomes to enable his armed attacks against Israel. Fatah’s manpower was incremented further after Arafat decided to offer new recruits much higher salaries than members of the Palestine Liberation Army (PLA), the regular military force of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was created by the Arab League in 1964. On 31 December, a squad from al-Assifa, Fatah’s original armed wing, attempted to infiltrate Israel, but they were intercepted and detained by Lebanese security forces. Several other raids with Fatah’s poorly trained and badly equipped fighters followed this incident. Some were successful, others failed in their missions. Arafat often led these incursions personally.
Yasser Arafat was detained in Syria’s Mezzeh Prison when a Palestinian Syrian Army officer, Yusef Urabi, was killed. Urabi had been chairing a meeting to ease tensions between Arafat and Palestinian Liberation Front leader Ahmed Jibril, but neither Arafat nor Jibril attended, delegating representatives to attend on their behalf. Urabi was killed during or after the meeting amid disputed circumstances. On the orders of Defense Minister Hafez al-Assad, a close friend of Urabi, Arafat was subsequently arrested found guilty by a three-man jury and sentenced to death. However, he and his colleagues were pardoned by President Salah Jadid shortly after the verdict. The incident brought Assad and Arafat to unpleasant terms, which would surface later when Assad became President of Syria.
On 13 November 1966, Israel launched a major raid against the Jordanian administered West Bank town of as-Samu, in response to a Fatah-implemented roadside bomb attack  which had killed three members of the Israeli security forces near the southern Green Line border. In the resulting skirmish, scores of Jordanian security forces were killed and 125 homes razed. This raid was one of several factors that led to the 1967 Six-Day War.
The Six-Day war began when Israel launched air strikes against Egypt’s air force on 5 June 1967. The war ended in an Arab defeat and Israel occupation of several Arab territories, including the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Although Nasser and his Arab allies had been defeated, Arafat and Fatah could claim a victory, in that the majority of Palestinians, who had up to that time tended to align and sympathize with individual Arab governments, now began to agree that a ‘Palestinian’ solution to their dilemma was indispensable. Many primarily Palestinian political parties, including George Habash Arab Nationalist Movement, Hajj Amin al-Husseini’s Arab Higher Committee, the Islamic Uberation Front and several Syrian-backed groups, virtually crumbled after their sponsor governments’ defeat. Barely a week after the defeat, Arafat crossed the Jordan River in disguise and entered the West Bank, where he set up recruitment centers in Hebron, the Jerusalem area and Nablus, and began attracting both fighters and financiers for his cause,
At the same time, Nasser contacted Arafat through the former’s adviser Mohammed Heikal and Arafat was declared by Nasser to be the “leader of the Palestinians. In December 1967 Ahmad Shukeiri resigned his post as PLO Chairman. Yahya Hammuda took his place and invited Arafat to join the organization. Fatah was allocated 33 of 105 seats of the PLO Executive Committee while 57 seats were left for several other guerrilla factions.
Throughout 1968, Fatah and other Palestinian armed groups were the target of a major Israeli army operation in the Jordanian village of Karameh, where the Fatah headquarters—as well as a mid-sized Palestinian refugee camp—were located. The town’s name is the Arabic word for ‘dignity’, which elevated its symbolism in the eyes of the Arab people, especially after the collective Arab defeat in 1967. The operation was in response to attacks, including rockets strikes from Fatah and other Palestinian militias, within the occupied West Bank. According to Said Aburish, the government of Jordan and a number of Fatah commandos informed Arafat that large-scale Israeli military preparations for an attack on the town were underway, prompting fedayeen groups, such as George Habash’s newly formed group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Nayef Hawatmeh’s breakaway organization the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), to withdraw their forces from the town. Though advised by a pro-Fatah Jordanian divisional commander to withdraw his men and headquarteri to the nearby hills, Arafat refused, stating, “We want to convince the world that there are those in the Arab world who will not withdraw or flee.” Aburith writes that it was on Arafat’s orders that Fatah remained, and that the Jordanian Army agreed to back them if heavy fighting ensued.