Backgrounder: Profile of members of Palestinian delegation to Washington

10:31, September 03, 2010      

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The following is a profile of members of the Palestinian delegation to Washington to engage in direct peace talks with Israel in Sept., 2010.


Born in Safad, Palestine, in 1935, Mahmoud Abbas and his family fled Palestine in 1948 to become refugees in Syria. He lived in exile until 1994, when he came to the occupied Palestinian territories as part of the Palestinian negotiating team. He has three children and eight grandchildren.

Political career: Abbas is one of the founding members of Fatah, the largest political party in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Abbas has been a member of the Fatah Central Committee since 1964 and a member of the Palestinian National Council (PNC, the Palestinian government in exile) since 1968. Since 1980, Abbas has been a member of the PLO Executive Committee. He also served as head of the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department between 1994 and 2003. In 2005, he was elected president of the Palestinian National Authority. He is also chairman of the PLO after late leader Yasser Arafat.

In 1974, he was responsible for opening channels of communications with Israeli peace groups and was the primary force behind the PNC's decision to work with these groups.

Abbas was the signatory of the 1993 Declaration of Principles that launched the Oslo Peace Process. In 1995, he signed the Oslo Agreements, also known as the Interim Agreement.

Education: Abbas holds a Ph.D. in History from Oriental College in Moscow and a B.A. in law from Damascus University. He authored several books in Arabic, including The Other Side, The Fall of the Netanyahu Government and The Road to Oslo. He enjoys Arabic poetry, Arabic classical music and the study of history.

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