His full name is Muhammad Abdurrahman Abdurrauf Arafat al-Kudva al-Huseyni, and he was born in Cairo on August 27, 1929. He occasionally claimed to have been born in Jerusalem and other times in a camp for refugees close to Gaza for political reasons. He had a fortunate start in life as the son of a Palestinian cloth merchant because of his location. He took part in the battles against the British mandate and Zionist organizations starting in his early years to defend the liberation of Palestine. He began using the name Yaser, a resistance fighter who opposed the British mandate and was assassinated by the British, after using the name Rahman in his youth.
He participated in the 1956 Israeli-Arab war as a lieutenant in the Egyptian Army. He started Fatah three years later (Palestine Liberation Movement). The organization began an armed conflict six years after its founding. Arafat’s tactical skill helped Fatah quickly rise to prominence as the most potent guerrilla organization in Palestine.
Arafat believed that partisan warfare was the only way to defeat Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War. He successfully defended the Jordanian village of Karameh against Israeli commando units nine months later, marking his first and most notable victory over Israel. The Palestinian people’s confidence has been restored by this success. He became more confident in Arafat as well as in himself.
He gathered every resistance group in the nation by the year 1969, consolidating his position of authority. Despite taking part in armed actions, he was referred to as a moderate because he avoided Pan-Arabism and extreme leftist organizations. He shielded the PLO from the influence of other Arab heads of state in 1974 and proclaimed it the sole and legal representative of Palestine thanks to his distinctive attire, quick wit, and undeniable power over the populace.
Power struggles within the organization started to surface in 1982. Israel took advantage of this chance to seize Arafat’s base in Lebanon. After this defeat, Arafat declared he was prepared for negotiations. By dispatching fighters under Arafat’s command to various Arab states, Israel agreed to release Arafat. Radical factions within the organization that opposed Arafat’s mediation besieged it in the port of Tripoli. But because the USA and the USSR stood to gain in the future, they stepped in and coordinated his departure.
Arafat changed his way of thinking, shedding light on Pan-Arabism and radical ideas, and as a result, he not only prevented the organization from disintegrating but also retained his previous support. Arafat drew lessons from this defeat and the intra-organizational policies.
Palestinians who lived in Israeli-occupied territory rose up in December 1987. Even though Arafat had nothing to do with this uprising, things went according to plan. Since 1969, Arafat has served as the PLO’s spokesperson, and he has come to represent Palestinian freedom. Following Jordan’s renunciation of Western Jordan, the State of Palestine proclaimed its independence in 1988. After the election took place five months later, he was elected as president.
In response, Arafat agreed that the Jewish State had the right to exist in exchange for Israel de-designating the PLO as a terrorist organization and appointing it as the official representative of all Palestinians. On September 13, 1993, in Washington, he penned the first peace treaty between Israel and Palestine. The autonomy of Gaza and Jericho was guaranteed by this agreement. Radical groups started to target Arafat after Israel broke its promise, which put him in a precarious position in domestic politics. Nevertheless, Palestine won the 1996 elections, and Arafat’s position as leader was recognized. It started to lose its influence in the nation as more radical groups like Hamas criticized its moderate policies. He was prevented from leaving Ramallah after losing the wars he fought against Israel, and Israel oversaw his death.
Several years after his passing, claims that he had been poisoned surfaced.