[News] PFLP founder George Habash dies

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Sun Jan 27 13:23:40 EST 2008


22:36 MECCA TIME, 19:36 GMT
PFLP founder George Habash dies


Habash, a paediatrician, was a popular, if
controversial, Palestinian leader [EPA]

George Habash, the Palestinian leader and a longtime rival of Yasser 
Arafat, the former Palestinian president, has died in Jordan, aged 80.

Habash, who passed away on Saturday, founded the Popular Front for 
the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which carried out the hijackings 
of several aircraft in the 1970s.
"He had a severe heart attack and he died instantly," Leila Khaled, a 
member of the Palestine National Council and a leading member of the 
PLFP, said.

Khaled spoke by telephone from Jordan Hospital in Amman, where she 
said Habash died at 8:15pm (1815GMT) on Saturday.
In Damascus, Maher al-Taher, the PFLP's spokesman, confirmed Habash's 
death. Habash had been living in Amman since 1992, he said.

The office of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has declared 
a three-day mourning period for Habash.

In Gaza, Ismail Haniya, the Hamas leader, said Habash "spent his life 
defending Palestine".


Habash founded the PFLP, which promoted armed resistance, in December 
1967 - six months after the war in which Israel seized east 
Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The group was responsible for the hijackings of four Western 
airliners over the US, Europe, the Far East and the Gulf in 1970.

The aircraft were blown up in the Middle East after their passengers 
and crews had disembarked.

Born into a wealthy Christian Arab family, Habash became a refugee 
after the 1948 creation of Israel.

He graduated in 1951 from the American University of Beirut, going on 
to become a pediatrician.

He was a co-founder of Harakat Al Qawmeyon Al Arab, a pan-Arab 
nationalist movement founded in 1952 that has had a profound impact 
on Palestinian and Arab political thought.

He later espoused Marxism and emerged as an internationally 
recognized leader of the Palestinian liberation movement and the 
broader struggle for political and social justice.

For many Arabs, he was one of the few leaders who embodied the 
Palestinian cause.

His PFLP movement favoured armed struggle to establish a Palestinian 
state and opposed Arafat, breaking completely with him over the 
signing of the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993.

However, he wrote one of the most moving eulogies for Arafat.

Habash resigned as secretary-general of the PFLP in 2000, citing 
health reasons.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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