Palestine Liberation Organization

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Arab-Israeli Conflict

Yasser Arafat (1929—2004) Palestinian statesman, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization 1968–2004 and Palestinian President 1996–2004


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A political and military body formed in 1964 to unite various Palestinian Arab groups in opposition to the Israeli presence in the former territory of Palestine. From 1967 the organization was dominated by al-Fatah, led by Yasser Arafat. The activities of its radical factions caused trouble with the host country, Jordan, and, following a brief civil war in 1970, it moved to Lebanon and Syria. In 1974 the organization was recognized by the Arab nations as the representative of all Palestinians. The Israeli invasion of Lebanon (1982) undermined its military power and organization, and it regrouped in Tunisia. Splinter groups of extremists, such as the ‘Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’ and the ‘Black September’ terrorists, have been responsible for kidnappings, hijackings, and killings both in and beyond the Middle East. In 1988 Arafat persuaded the movement to renounce violence, and its governing council recognized the State of Israel. Thereafter the PLO was accepted by an increasing number of states as being a government-in-exile. In 1993 Arafat became chair of the Palestinian National Authority, which administered the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from 1995. The PLO continued to be responsible for negotiations with Israel, but these broke down in 2000. In 2004 Mahmoud Abbas became leader of the PLO following Arafat's death.

Subjects: Politics — History.

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