Yasser Arafat Essay, Research Paper
Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat
The Middle East, once an area of severe fighting and active terrorism,
is now free of violence due to the actions of one man, Yasser Arafat.
Yasser Arafat has helped create a place where the Palestine and Israeli
people can live together. This peaceful environment did not come easily
though. It took years of work and controversy for Yasser to make the two
Arab nations live peacefully together. Through Yasser Arafat’s successful
leadership qualities, the once warring nations of Palestine and Israel now
accept each other and subside peacefully together.
Yasser Arafat was born in the city of Jerusalem on February 17,
1929. He fled Jerusalem after the establishment of the Israel nation in 1948.
He attended Cairo University in Egypt, where he became president of the
Union of Palestinian students and studied engineering. While in Cairo, he
trained as a fedayeen, the Egyptian word for commando and worked with a
construction firm. He also studied guerrilla tactic and joined the Egyptian
army. Yasser then moved to Kuwait and founded his first rebel group of
fedayeen soldiers on raids deep into Israeli territory. His bold actions gained
him respect among his Arab piers.
In 1959, Arafat established another anti-Israeli guerrilla group called
al-Fatah. This was the largest of the Palestinian guerrilla units dedicated to
undermining and overtaking Israel. There were many of these guerrilla
groups in the Middle East so they decided to form into one unified
organization. This created the Palestinian Liberation Organization,
commonly called the PLO. Formed in 1964, Arafat was elected chairman in
1969. The PLO acted as a government to the Palestinian people but with
one exception, it had no territory to govern. Arafat’s establishment and
leadership of these essential beginning organizations began his success as a
leader of his people.
As leader of the PLO, Arafat devoted his life to gaining a permanent
homeland for his people. Throughout the 1970’s, the PLO was associated
with terrorism. Yasser and the PLO’s many affiliates used terrorism to
persuade Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin to grant land to the Palestinians. One
of the affiliated groups, Black September as they were called, were
responsible for the killing of Israeli athletes at the Munich summer Olympics
in 1972. Arafat’s dedication to do whatever he can do to better his peoples
lives is another reason of how he is a great leader.
Arab nations such as Jordan and Lebanon were used as bases for the
PLO to launch attacks from against Israel. They were driven out of Jordan
in 1970 and out of Lebanon in 1982. Arafat then set up headquarters in
Tunisia. Arafat did not abandon his leadership position even after being
faced with relocating many times. He wisely chose his headquarters
positions. These wise decisions aided to the success of his leadership.
After finding the violence and terrorism would not make the Israelis
listen to their plea of getting their homeland back, Arafat had to use a new
tool of persuasion. This time he chose compromise. He and the PLO
declared Israel an independent state, renounced all of it’s terrorism, accepted
United Nations Resolution 242 and acknowledged Israelis right to exist.
This opened the door for further negations in the future. Arafat’s willingness
to hide his pride is another example of great leadership qualities.
As the PLO gained willingness to compromise, so did Israel. Arafat
and the PLO agreed to negotiate with Israel in 1993. Secret meetings,
moderated by Norwegian foreign minister Johan Jorgen Holst, were held in
Oslo, Norway throughout 1993. The result was an Israeli-Palestinian
accord, signed in Washington on September 13, 1993. For the first time,
Israel recognized the PLO. Israel granted the PLO self-rule in the Gaza strip
and Jericho. This accord was the beginning to a permanent agreement made
in 1995. In recognition of this, Arafat shared a Nobel Peace Prize with
Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin.
Through Yasser Arafat’s efforts, both violent and peaceful, the
Palestine and Israeli people can now live a life of peace together.