Yasser Abed Rabbo
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Yasser Abd Rabbo (Yasser Abed Rabbo) (Arabic: ياسر عبد ربه) (Abu Bashar ابو بشار) (born 1944) is a Palestinian politician and a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) Executive Committee. He holds an M.A. in economics and political science from the American University in Cairo.
Born in Jaffa, Yasser Abed Rabbo started his political career in the Pan-Arab ANM, the Arab Nationalist Movement. When the Palestinian branch of the ANM evolved in 1967 into the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), he became one of its leaders. In 1969, the PFLP split, and a faction under Nayef Hawatmeh formed the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, in 1974 renamed the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), of which Abed Rabbo became a main leader.
During the 1980s, Abed Rabbo moved closer to the position of Yassir Arafat, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and supported his attempts to negotiate a two-state solution. This led to friction within the DFLP, and as Arafat gave his blessings to the Madrid Conference of 1991, the organization split. Abed Rabbo, supported by Arafat, headed a faction mainly based in the West Bank, that backed these negotiations, and he became one of the Palestinian leader's main advisors; Hawatmeh's Syria-based DFLP faction resisted the talks. The Abed Rabbo faction reformed as FIDA, the Palestine Democratic Union, dropping the Marxist-Leninist platform of the DFLP and rescinding armed struggle. Abed Rabbo became FIDA's representative on the PLO Executive Committee. In 1993, however, Abed Rabbo left his post at the Madrid delegation in protest, when he discovered that Arafat had initiated another round of talks without informing him (these parallel negotiations eventually led to the 1993 Oslo Accords).
After the signing of the Oslo Accords, which Abed Rabbo supported, the Madrid controversy notwithstanding, Abed Rabbo was permitted by Israel to return to the West Bank. He was a cabinet member for FIDA in several of Arafat's Palestinian National Authority (PNA) governments, and served on several Palestinian diplomatic delegations during negotiations with Israel (including the failed Camp David 2000 Summit). On 9 June 2002, Abed Rabbo was appointed minister of information and culture in the PNA. He also presented several unofficial peace initiatives, widely believed to have had Arafat's blessing, such as the 2003 Geneva Accord. These initiatives, coupled with his public condemnations of suicide bombing attacks during the al-Aqsa Intifada, strengthened Abed Rabbo's image as a pro-peace moderate, and he is often presented as a Palestinian "dove". However, after the Battle of Jenin he accused Israel of digging mass graves for 900 Palestinians in the camp. This accusation, though widely circulated, has been dismissed as untrue by the United Nations and other human-rights organization.
In 2002, he resigned from FIDA after internal disputes. Women's rights activist Zahira Kamal had been chosen in an internal election to replace him as minister in the government of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), but Abed Rabbo refused to step down, and instead left the party. He was able to remain in the cabinet as an independent, with Arafat's backing, but was replaced in FIDA by Saleh Ra'fat, its current Secretary-General.
After the death of Arafat, Abed Rabbo was removed from the post of minister in the PNA government by Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas. Pending new elections, he remains on the Executive Committee of the PLO. He was one of the founders of the Third Way but failed to be elected in the 2006 elections. He is now an advisor to Abbas.
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