Abdel-Rahman Abdel-Raouf Arafat
Born Abdel-Rahman Abdel-Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini. His date and place of birth are disputed; while he claims to have been born August 4, 1929, in Jerusalem, a birth certificate gives the date as August 24, 1929, in Cairo, Egypt. One of seven children of a wealthy merchant, Arafat is related on his motherís side to the Husseini family, a prominent Sunni Muslim family in Jerusalem. He and his wife, Suha, whom he married in the late 1980s, have one daughter, Zahwa. The early years of Arafatís career at the head of the PLO were marked by violence, beginning in ďBlack SeptemberĒ of 1970, when Jordanís King Hussein, then at odds with the PLO, ordered his army to act against Palestinian guerrilla camps positioned along the border between Jordan and Israel, killing many Palestinians. Even more shocking was the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany, by Palestinian terrorists. Increasingly, however, Arafat directed his efforts with the PLO towards political rather than military persuasion and diplomacy rather than terrorism. In the wake of the Yom Kippur War in October 1973, during which Egypt and Syria attempted to regain land from Israel, the United States began intervention efforts to negotiate a settlement in the area. The Palestine National Council (PNC), the governing body of the PLO, sought inclusion in the settlement, calling for the creation of a Palestinian national authority in the West Bank and Gaza. In November 1974, with the support of the Arab states, Arafat became the first representative of a non-governmental agency to address a plenary session of the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly. In 1989, Arafat was elected as president of a hypothetical Palestinian state by the Central Council of the PNC. Four years later, he led the PLO to a peace agreement concluded in Oslo, Norway, with the Israeli government, represented by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The Oslo Accord laid out the implementation of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over a period of five years. Under the signed Declaration of Principles, Israel would begin its withdrawal from the disputed areas immediately; in exchange, the PLO agreed to accept the U.N. resolutions acknowledging the nation of Israel and to promote security and peace between Arabs and Israelis living in the conflicted areas. For his participation in the peace efforts, Arafat shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with Rabin and Shimon Peres, then Israel's foreign minister. He was later elected president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) which governed Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank and Gaza.