Early life• Arafat was born in 1929 to a successful business father and a religiously devoted mother.• Arafat’s birth name was Mohammed, but he was nicknamed Arafat, which means “easy” in Arabic.• His mother passed away when he was only four, and his father sent him to Jerusalem, to live with a wedded uncle.• In the 1940s, as a teen, Arafat was recruited into the Palestinian cause.• Before Israel defeated the Arabs in the 1948-1949 Arab-Israeli War, he was a leader in the Palestinian attempt to steal weapons into the land.
Israeli land before and after the 1948-1949 Arab-Israeli War
Education and involvement in freedom movements• Arafat studied civil manufacturing at the University of Cairo in Egypt, after the war.• He led the Palestinian Students League; by his graduation, he was dedicated to establishing a group that would liberate Palestine from Israeli control.• He founded Al Fatah, an underground terrorist group, in 1956.• Al Fatah was initially overlooked by Egypt and other Arab countries including Syria and Jordan; these nations founded their own organization, the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization• The Arab League members did not turn to Arafat until Israel annexed the Gaza Strip (from Egypt), Golan Heights (from Syria) and West Bank (from Jordan) in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.• He subsequently became the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1968.• For the next two decades, the PLO initiated bloody attacks on Israel, and Arafat acquired a status as a merciless terrorist.
Diplomatic recognition of Israel and Oslo Peace Accords• By 1988, however, when Arafat informed the United Nations that the PLO would grant diplomatic recognition to Israel, he opened up to diplomacy.• Nevertheless, grassroots Palestinian groups did not cease violence against Israeli civilians.• In 1993, Arafat went to Norway for secret peace negotiations, leading to the Oslo Peace Accords, signed in Washington, D.C., with Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin.• That accord extended limited self-govern to the Palestinians, winning Arafat, Rabin and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize.
1994 recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize:Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin
First President of the Palestinian Council• Arafat was elected the first President of the Palestinian Council ruling the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in January 1996.• Conversely, Israeli settlements on Palestinian land persist, as does Palestinian fighting for a homeland.
Illness and Death• On November 11, 2004, Yasser Arafat died at Percy military hospital (Hôpital dinstruction des armées Percy) in Paris, France.• The 75-year-old was in unconsciousness ever since he left for France for medical treatment three weeks prior.