Mideastweb: Middle East

Palestinian Organizations and Parties

Palestinian Organizations


Islamic Jihad
PPP - Palestinian People's Party
Fatah Revolutionary Council
The Palestinian Revolutionary Communist Party
The Palestinian Democratic Union (FIDA)
Palestine Liberation Front
Palestinian Popular Struggle Front
Popular Resistance Committees
Active Organization for the Liberation of Palestine (AOLP)


Below is a detailed description of the known Palestinian parties and underground groups as of 2002. The PLO is the umbrella organization of most groups. The largest and best known groups are probably the Fateh, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and PFLP. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the PFLP-GC also gained notoriety due to several terrorist missions. The major political platforms and preoccupations of each group, and their activities, are related to destruction of Israel or ending of the occupation. PLO and Fatah were formed before the occupation began and carried out terrorist raids beginning in 1964. The groups differ from each other in the following dimensions:

Islamist (Hamas and Islamic Jihad) versus secular (such as Fatah) and Marxist (such as PFLP, PFLP-GC and DFLP).

Support for radical destruction of Israel versus support for interim two state solution versus sincere support for two state solution.

In accordance with the above, support for Oslo peace process and or participation in the Palestine Authority versus rejection and membership in the rejectionist front organized by Syria.

Reliance on different countries such as Syria, Iraq or Iran for active support versus partial or complete independence.

Based in the occupied territories versus based in surrounding countries, especially Syria and Iraq.

Widely based popular political movements versus small guerilla and terrorist factions.

All the groups support armed struggle against Israel as long as the occupation continues. Some promise a hudna (truce) if Israel withdraws from the occupied territories. Some groups such as the PPP support a two state solution. Political stands of the groups change from time to time, and may be stated differently in their charters, in publications, and by different members. Attributions of various terrorist actions to different groups are based on intelligence and claims of the groups, and are sometimes conflicting. This information is believed to be reasonably correct. However, you are encouraged to contact MidEastWeb with updates and corrections.

PLO (Munazzimat al-Tahrir al-Filastiniyya)

The PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization)  is the umbrella organization of the Palestinian Resistance. PLO was founded 1964 with Egyptian backing, under Ahmed Shukhairy as chairman. It was meant to be a foil to divert attention from the popular and by then anti-Nasserist Fatah movement. However, after the collapse of the Arab war effort in the 6 day war, Yasser Arafat and the Fatah took over the PLO.  Eventually, PLO was given UN observer status. It was recognized as "the only legitimate representative of the Palestine people" by almost all Palestinian groups until it undertook to recognize Israel, abandon violence and opt for a two state solution in the 1993 Oslo Agreements. The PLO became, essentially, the Palestine National Authority (PNA) through the Oslo agreements. The PLO charter calls for destruction of Israel. Though it was revised following the Oslo Agreements to remove the offending paragraphs, the organizations Web sites and the Web Site of the PNA delegation to the UN still show the original sections of the charter.

The PLO organization has these parts:

PNC as parliament, which elects leader and makes policy decisions; created in its 1964 formative stage, now with 669 members, but until recently had 484 members from all PLO factions as well as independents, with seats left vacant for reps of occupied territories. Current President is Salim Za‘nun (previously: ‘Abd al-Muhsin Qattan from Jul 68; Yahya Hammuda from Sept 69, Khalid al-Fahum from Jul71-84, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Sa’ih from Nov84-1993); Vice-Pres is Taysir Quba‘a; Secretary is Muhammad Sbayh; 2nd Secretary is Ilya Khuri. The PNC meets infrequently, though is is mandated by its fundamental law to meet every 2 years. Resolutions are passed by a simple majority, but two thirds of the members must attend for quorum.

Palestine Central Council  makes policy decisions when PNC not in session, acting as a link between PNC and  PLO-EC: formed in Jun70, as an ad hoc body to coordinate between groups in Jordan. Its members are elected by PNC on PLO-EC nomination, and chaired by PNC president. Membership has risen from 42 (1976), 55 (3/77), 72 (11/84), 107 (early90s), 95 (mid-90s).

PLO Executive Committee acts as a cabinet, implementing policy (c.18 members), selected from PNC and  choosing its own chairman. Membership from 1969 to 1988 is listed here.

Palestine Liberation Army, initially with 3 battalions: ‘Ayn Jalut in Egypt, Qadisiyya in Iraq, though in Jordan after 1967, Hattin in Syria; Chiefs of Staff include ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Yahya (1970-2), Tariq al-Khadra (up to 1984).

Subsidiary organizations - PLO runs a number of pan-Palestinian institutions. The Palestine National Fund; Palestinian Armed Struggle Command (a military-police organization was  established 2/4/69 as a step toward unification and  coordinating claims to action. It was a civil police force in Lebanon in 70s-early80s, and  intervened in confrontations between opposing Palestinian groups. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society was established in Jordan in 1965 and was part of PLO from 1969). SAMED, the Palestine Martyrs Works Society  was established 1970 in Jordan to provide vocational training to martyrs’ children and was reorganized in Lebanon in 1971; after 1975, its services extended to all Palestinians. The Department of Information and  Culture, includes the Research Center.  The Department of Mass Organizations runs the unions through the General Union of Palestinian Women, GUPW, General Union of Palestinian Workers, GUPWo, General Union of Palestinian Students, GUPS.  The PLO has an Education Department and an Information Bureau, which produces the newspaper Filastin al-Thawra, biweekly English and  French journal Palestine, and  has the news agency WAFA, established 1/6/70 - now the official PNA News Agency. The Political Department represents Palestinians internationally. The PLO also runs the Institution for Social Affairs and  Welfare for the Families of Martyrs and Prisoners (established 1965). 

Fatah (Harakat al-Tahrir al-Watani al-Filastini)

Fatah (literally means. victory or conquest; also a reverse acronym of Harakat al-Tahrir al-Watani al-Filastin, Palestinian National Liberation Movement) was founded by Yasser Arafat, Khalil Al Wazir (Abu Jihad) Farouq Kadumi, Khalid al-Hassan and other Palestinian refugeees in Kuwait. Many, like Arafat, had a background  in Ikhwan (fedayoun) groups (a tag which stuck until ‘68) drawn from refugees in Gaza, which provided military training to Palestinian youth. Ikhwan military bodies eg Revenge Youth and  Battalion of Right (led by Khalil al Wazir); launched small sabotage attacks on Israel from late 1954 and  pulled away from disapproving Ikhwan. They also refused to get involved in Ikhwan-Egypt conflict, which resulted in Wazir's expulsion from Egypt. Wazir later  moved to Saudi Arabia, then joined Arafat in Kuwai). Yasser Arafat at this stage was working through Palestinian Students Union in Cairo; formed alliance with youth leaders (especially Khalaf) and Palestinian activists in Syria (especially ‘Adil ‘Abd al-Karim and  ‘Abdullah al-Dannan).  In 1957, after university,  activists formed a clandestine organization in Kuwait, taking the name Fatah in 1959 or 1960. Fatah was to be modeled on the Algerian FLN as a "National Liberation Movement" that would win support of the Palestinian masses for armed liberation of Palestine. This was opposed to the traditional terror-only strategy that relied on Arab countries to liberate Palestine. Fatah achieved popularity through the Filastinuna magazine edited by Yasser Arafat. However, it did not have any effective military cadres until Syria began recruiting and training terrorists for Fatah in 1964. The first Fatah raids on Israel were conducted in 1965.

The organizational structures were established at a Kuwait meeting on 10.10.59.

Organization - Fatah tripartite organizational structure:

General conference, the ruling body, which is supposed to meet every 5 years, but has not met since its fifth session on 8 Aug 89: made up of members of regional congresses, military forces, mass orgaanizations and  Fatah-RC. At the last meeting, it had 1200 members. Earlier meetings: 4th General Conference (Damascus, 31 May 80);

The Fatah Revolutionary Council, decides policy when GC is not in session;

Central Committee (al-lajna al-markaziyya), which acts according to the principle of collective leadership. Members are largely elected by secret ballot from the GC, but RC can appoint 3 other members by a two-thirds majority, and  others from the occupied territories.

Prominent founders include Yasser Arafat, Salah Khalaf, Khalil al-Wazir, Muhammed Yusif al-Najjar, Kamal ‘Udwan. Joined in ‘59 by Khalid al-Hasan, a civil servant who'd been in Kuwait since 1952; and  Tawfiq al-Huri, who gave his magazine Nida’ al-Hayat-Filastinuna (The Call of Life - Our Palestine) to use as a mouthpiece: largely written by Wazir, but also ‘Arafat. Main centers were Kuwait (Arafat, Wazir, later Qaddumi) and Qatar (Najjar, ‘Udwan, ‘Abd al-Fattah Hammud). Main platform was the liberation of all of Palestine for Arabs (not necessarily Palestinian Nationalist) which could be achieved only through relentless armed struggle. Fatah believed that the Arab governments were not to be trusted (had prevented victory in 1948 war since they were concerned only with their own interests; also shown in treatment of refugees) and that therefore it must remain independent of all Arab governments, including Nasserism; also stress upon own distinctiveness as a people, ‘Palestinianness’. Also disapproved of ideological debates and  party politics, which they viewed as a distraction from the sole goal of liberating Palestine, and therefore portrayed itself as a movement rather than an organization [hence won support from all sectors of society and, ironically, later from Arab governments.

The publication Filastinuna, appearing approx. 6-wkly from 1959 until Nov 64, served to publicize the group, and won recruits from Ikhwan (eg Ahmad Quray; Muhammad Ghnaym, who opposed Ikhwan loyalty to the Hashemite throne), Ba'ths, especially after the dissolution of the UAR (especially Faruq al-Qaddumi; a West Bank resident), and  student groups (especially Mahmud ‘Abbas, then working in Qatari civil service). Acted to unify various groups formed by Palestinian refugees in Kuwait, Saudi, Qatar. Acted in Eu through Hani al-Hasan (b.1937, Haifa) who was studying in W.Germany. In 1963, extensively reorganized, with a Central Committee formed. By 1962-4, was winning support from Arab States, especially Syria, which sought a counterfoil to Egyptian designs and a means to discredit Nasser and  the PLO.

Damascus became ‘Arafat’s base; and  Algeria (through ‘Arafat’s elder brother, Jamal ‘Abd al-Ra’uf). The Palestine Office was created by Fatah in Algiers, and  through these connections met Vietnamese, Chinese and  Portuguese African leaders, and  Che Guevara. These States pushed for commencement of armed attacks on Israel; also supported by ‘Arafat and  Wazir, to opposition of ‘Abd al-Karim and  Dannan; former view won out, especially with formation of PLA (Sept 64) and  view that a military confrontation between PLO and  Israel could be precipitated by Fatah actions, thus bringing about a popular struggle; strove for al-tawrit al-wa’i (‘conscious entanglement’) of the masses in a liberation war (as opposed to conventional warfare of Arab armies invading Israel: Fatah indicated at times that this would not be able to liberate Palestine, in part due to Israel’s NWs, and  its promotion would prevent mass mobilization): believed that mass mobilization would be triggered by engaging in highly visible armed attacks, which would also propel Fatah to the leadership of PLO institutions, and therefore carried out  terror attacks with the aid of Syrian recruited commands.

Rifts started emerging in Fatah in ‘65/6, with the Higher Central Committee in Kuwait (‘Abd al-Karim, Dannan) opposing Field Command in Damascus (Wazir, ‘Arafat): former (probably also with Syrian pressure) imposed merger with Ba'thist Revulutionary Front for the Liberation of Palestine, under Yusif al-‘Urabi, and  Palestinian Liberation Front, under Ahmad Jibril, in order both to control ‘Arafat and  to bring in professional military expertise. Arafat and his allies assassinated Urabi, and the Syrians then arrested Arafat. tensions led to attempted putsch of Mar-May 66; but resolution left Fatah with strengthened links with Syrian forces (especially Asad), the removal of ‘Abd al-Karim and  Dannan from HCC, and  domination of Fatah by commando groups in Syria led to a crackdown, with mass imprisonment, especially in Jordan and  Lebanon.  Syrians released Arafat and other leaders only after they agreed to cooperate with Syria. Once released, they escaped to Lebanon and attempted to establish an organization independent of Syrian control.  Following the ‘67 war, ‘Arafat and  Wazir urged the immediate relaunching of the struggle from within the occupied territories, despite opposition of Khalid al-Hasan and  Khalaf (and  Syrian government); ‘Arafat formally became field commander and  set up clandestine HQ in Nablus from Aug 67. Fatah actions in late’67 killed approx 97 IDF, but caused mass imprisonment of West Bank supporters and therefore by ‘68 Fatah sought a base outside occupied territories, and  chose Jordan. Gained unofficial support from many Jordanian soldiers, but tensions with government, especially intelligence chief Muhammed Rasul al-Kaylani. Also sought leadership within PLO: formed a Permanent Bureau for Guerrilla Actions in Cairo, Jan’68, with 7 minor guerrilla groups, so as to form a bloc within PLO; PFLP, with similar ambitions, boycotted it.

However, Fatah gained popularity with battle of Karameh, in which they gained a partial victory over Israeli forces, bringing extensive publicity and  recruits. ‘Arafat now became the leader and  spokesperson of Fatah in April 1968, possibly  on Khalaf’s unilateral initiative. Fatah gained support from King Faysal of Saudi (financially), Hussein of Jordan, USSR (after ‘Arafat’s visit to Moscow in Feb70) and Gamal Abdel Nasser who met the Fatah leadership in 1968, following Karameh. This resulted in increased arms deliveries, military training and  intelligence facilities, which Nasser saw as a complement to diplomacy. China (after ‘Arafat and  Khalaf visited in Feb70) and  Algeria (both major weapons suppliers) both became Fatah supporters.

By late 1968, though, Israel had forced Fatah out of the Jordan valley, and  guerrilla movement into Jordan’s cities brought increased tensions and  armed conflicts (especially Nov’68). Karameh also allowed Fatah to take over PLO, taking many seats in the PNC from May 68, and  33/105 seats in Feb 69 as the largest single bloc. Thereupon  ‘Arafat was elected chairman of PLO, with 4/11 seats on Executive Committee. Fatah’s statist ambitions led it to create the organizational norms for its mass party in traditional guise, and  adopt populist political rhetoric; but tensions due to rapid expansion, with founding elite largely drawn from Islamist parties, producing a paternalistic style of leadership, using the Islami notion of consensus, whilst new recruits came up through Jordanian Ba'thist and  communist parties. Statist ambitions also led it to set up social welfare provisions, such as the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and  schooling program; as well as expansion of autonomous intelligence apparatus, the Rasd (briefly under Qaddumi, but under Khalaf from ‘68, when it became a rival power base to ‘Arafat). At first encouraged fragmentation of Palestinian groups to ensure its own dominance; but rivalry and  sense that Arab States were created groups to further their own causes led to calls to impose a unified political front on Palestinian groups. This was rejected as impossible by ‘Arafat, who rejecting internal violence because of what it had done in 1936-9. He instead offered posts within PLO to other groups (including unions and  other mass orgs) on a fixed quota whilst expanding PNC so that more seats could be allocated.

The PLO clashed with the Jordanian government increasingly, forcing a showdown with the Jordanian Legion in September 1970, called "Black September. Fatah members were largely forced to flee, eventually setting up shop in Lebanon. A sense of siege in Fatah after Black September, with Syrian pressure, successful Israeli purges in Gaza, Israel and  Jordan attempted to cultivate an alternative leadership in occupied territories, and owing as well to a Lebanese crackdown on all guerrilla activity, there were contradictory tendencies within Fatah. On the one hand, it saw ‘adventurism’ of PFLP as responsible for Black September, and therefore the September 1971 conference condemned ‘extremism’ within PFLP for their problems. PLO under Fatah also  sought to consolidate the movement and incorporated ‘Isam Sartawi's Active Organization for the Liberation of Palestine (AOLP) and  Ahmad Za‘rur’s Org of Arab Palestine at the July 1971 PNC seccion. But also strove for revenge. Thus, a breakaway faction from the Rasd, which was extensively criticized for its role in Jordan, became the ‘Black Sept Org’ (Khalaf’s role unclear, but supported and  promoted its activities); much sympathy in Fatah for their activities, including PFLP / Red Army strikes, and  various Fatah members took BSO name in the September 1972 Munich Olympic attack. It is unclear whether ‘Arafat authorized it, but he did not condemn it.

Following international condemnation, loss of public support and  Israeli reprisals (especially death of Najjar and  ‘Udwan in Apr73 raid), Fatah condemned further hijackings and  airport attacks by Sabri al-Banna and  Haddad’s PFLP faction in 1973, and  ‘Arafat ordered the assassination of al-Banna’s sponsor, Muhammed ‘Abd al-Ghafur (12Sept74). Oct72 Fatah congress of 300 delegates elected the leadership; also new policy formulated, viewing guerrilla warfare as one of the means (ie not the only) of struggle. Increasing leftward shift within Fatah after 1973 war, with ‘the Soviet Group’ ( Nimr Salih, Fatah-CC member; Majid Abu-Sharar, director of news department; Ahmad ‘Abd al-Rahman, ed-in-chief of Filastin al-Thawra) strong; though opposed by various other leftist factions, eg ‘Vietnamese line’ under Hanna Mikha’il and  ‘Maoist tendency’ under Munir Shafiq, as Soviet group was moving t/w supporting SCR242 and  which gained considerable popularity among Fatah rank-and -file, which saw interests of 1948 refugees as vital. This led to internal factionalist, and  the formation of the rejectionist front and  Abu Nidal group. These came into open conflict in S.Lebanon in Apr77 when a leftist group under Abu Daud (Muhammed Daud Awda) tried to break the ceasefire in S.Lebanon, resulting in  open clashes with Fatah mainstream forces.  ‘Arafat  sought to, gain personal control. Amidst  increasing accusations of autocracy, did not convene a general Fatah conference after Sept 1971 until pressure led to the May 80 conference.

Fatah’s success has been due to its lack of emphasis on ideology, leading to support from all sectors of society, and  its principle of non-interference in affairs of other Arab States resulting in support from most of them, ; generally opposed violent attacks outside the ME, especially from 1974. Main splits in Fatah in 1983 and  Nov1993, when half of Fatah-RC, including Farouk Qaddumi (as Secretary-General), boycotted the meeting to protest the Oslo accords. Fateh began to disintegrate after the death of founder Yasser Arafat. In January of 2006, it lost Palestinian Legislative Council elections to candidates representing the Hamas movement. Voters were unhappy with corruption and nepotism in the Fateh and chaos in the Palestinian authority. Mahmoud Abbas, who succeeded Arafat was not an effective leader of either Fatah or the PLO.  The Hamas promised to end chaos and corruption.

Palestinian People’s Party (PPP; Hizb al-Sha‘b)

The Palestinian People’s Party (PPP; Hizb al-Sha‘b): supports Oslo, but calls for reconstruction of PLO and  dialogue with anti-Oslo groups. PPP Traces history back to 1919 when it was established by the Zionists as a Marxist party. After an early split this became the Palestine Communist Party (PCP) in 1921, and was the official Comintern section in Palestine from 1924.  It brought Palestinians in, who adopted an anti-Zionist position and split in 1943, with the Arabs forming the National Liberation League (Usbat al-Taharrur al-Watani). Was close to the Palestinian labor movement; at first with Palestinian Arab Workers’ Society (established 1925), led by Sami Taha (b.1916, nr Jenin; raised in Haifa); but with the opposition of these groups to factional politics, it came into conflict with them and Taha was assassinated, probably on orders of Hajj Amin El Husseini, in 1946 in Haifa. PPP also established a more orthodox, non-nationalist workers’ bloc, The Federation of Arab TUs and  Labour Socs (FATULS) in 1942 out of Haifa members of the PCP; became the Arab Workers’ Congress in 1945.

The first congress of NLL (National Labor League) was in Haifa, 1944, where it elected a 4-person central committee with Fu’ad Nassar as most prominent of the four. Nassar opposed Zionism and  proposed that interests of Jews and  Arabs could best be served by a secular democratic state; but after the UN Partition Resolution (GAR 181) despite the intense opposition of many members grouped around Emile Touma, NLL officially accepted partition in its Jan 48 general conference (which Touma’s majority group did not attend, and where Fu’ad Nassar was elected Secretary General ).

In the 1948 war, members in Gaza (including Fakhri Maki, Fayez al-Wahidi) became the Palestinian Communist Org (PCO; after ‘67 formed United National Front with many other nationalist groups in Gaza, and  much more supportive of armed resistance and were therefore eliminated in Israeli security sweeps). Those  left in Israel (including Emile Touma, Emile Habibi, Tawfiq Toubi) after 1948 formed Israel Communist Party. In the West Bank, NLL continued until 1951, calling for an independent Palestinian State in the areas allocated to Palestinians in the partition plan, and was therefore opposed to both Arab States’ 'invasion' / 'aggression' of 1948 and  Jordanian annexation. It saw an opportunity to develop its support among West Bankers who shared their opposition to Jordan and therefore quickly set up cells throughout the West Bank 1949-51, campaigning for a boycott of Jordanian elections. Also took over Ramallah Workers Assoc in 1950-1, which was then crushed by the authorities and  leaders arrested. It thereafter avoided mobilizing workers and  sought support primarily from intelligentsia (especially teachers, seen as the conduit to students, which the  Jordan Communist Party most sought to influence), Also with Jordanian annexation, changed course: became the Jordanian Communist Party (JCP) in June 51 and  dropped demand for an independent state. It participated in the August 51 Jordanian Parliamentary elections, and  pledged its support to the unity of the Banks. Main leaders were Fu’ad Nassar, Fahmi al-Salfiti, Fa’iq Warrad; run by a Central Committee. JCP built a strong base in Hashimite West Bank, primarily working through the intelligentsia in Nablus and  Jerusalem, and  had a large branch in the village of Salfit near Nablus, which was the home of several leading activists (Fahmi al-Salfiti, Hamza al-Zirr, Arabi Awwad); also active in Ramallah, Bethlehem, and  in refugee camps (especially around Jericho): despite this base in the intelligentsia, JCP publications continued to address workers and  peasants 1stly, in keeping with international communist doctrine; but also sought wider appeal, paying attention in its publications to the problems of the petit bourgeois and  the 'uprooted' (ie refugees). Also worked extensively through 'front' orgs, especially the 'Peace Partisans' (pro-SU antinuclear group), the Democratic Youth Assoc (from 1954, in large West Bank towns) and  the National Front (from May54), established to fight Oct54 elections, and  which succeeded in winning a seat in Nablus for ‘Abd al-Qadir Salih. Heavily persecuted: Nasser arrested 29/12/51 and  sentenced to 10yrs, and  JCP printing press seized; and  new legislation promulgated by Jordanian Parliament on 1/12/53, prescribing imprisonment and  hard labor for JCP members. But JCP managed to operate covertly, successfully recruiting members from 1953, and  became strongest in period 1956-7, against b/ground of Suez war: mobilised against Anglo-Jordanian Treaty and  Eisenhower doctrine, pro-Soviet. The National Front won 3 seats in '56 elections, for Fa’iq Warrad (Ramallah), Yaqub Ziyadin (Jerusalem) and  Salih again, who was made Agriculture Minister under the Nabulsi government. Many members, including Fu’ad Nassar, released from prison; and  JCP newspaper allowed to circulate. Main competition with Ba'thists who stayed out of National Front. Downplayed its anti-religion tenets, stressing struggle against colonialism.

King Hussein began to act against JCP in January 57, singling out JCP to justify his banning of political parties in Apr: accused JCP of striving for peace, and  maintaining contacts, with Israel; Warrad and  Ziyadin had Parliamentary immunity lifted and  were sentenced to 16 and  19 years respectively; large no of other arrests, with mosques especially used by the regime to identify and  condemn members. As a result, it was very weak by end of 1950s, with minimal public activities, instead focusing on carefully training cadres. Only managed to continue secretly printing its approx. monthly newspaper, Al-Muqawama Al-Shaabiya (The Popular Struggle) consistently from 1949. Riven by internal split before long: faction under al-Salfiti (acting Secretary General ), preferred accommodation with Hashemites, opposing 1966 West Bank strikes; while the faction under the exiled Secretary General  was more opposed to Jordanian government.

After ‘67, al-Salfiti (and  his successor Warrad) ran JCP in Amman; West Bank affairs run by Na’im al-Ashhab. Other prominent West Bank leaders were Sulayman al-Najjab, ‘Arabi ‘Awwad and  (later) Bashir Barghuthi. al-Salfiti’s group accepted SCR242, discouraged guerrilla groups and  called on Husayn to lead the opposition to Israeli occupation; whilst Nasser’s group took opposite stance on these issues. Ashhab also opposed commencement of guerrilla activities (which he argued required extensive preparation, seeing it at the current stage as counterproductive) and  strove reuniting Eand West Banks = put main emphasis of slowing the refugee exodus from West Bank (the lesson of ‘48) and  non-violent protest. Newspaper relaunched as Al-Watan. West Bank communists remained pro-Jordan, for example, in the Higher Committee for National Guidance, where delegates opposed an independent Palestinian State until 1973. But opposition to guerrillas and  support for Jordan discredited JCP after Karameh, especially as West Bankers and  USSR came to support Fatah.  JCP-West Bank increasingly broke with internationalist of JCP-Amman and  began to articulate a more clear Palestinian nationalist position. By 1973, it was supporting an independent Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza. In addition, other Arab communist parties, working through Fu’ad Nassar, created own guerrilla force, Quwwat al-Ansar (Partisan Forces) in Mar70, though remained largely ineffective due to JCP’s lack of support. JCP backed, at Fatah’s insistence, the call for ‘total liberation’, but privately accepted Israel’s existence and  continued to advocate a settlement with Israel based on SCR242 (eg did not sign the ‘unity document’ of 6 May 70 which rejected UN Resolution 242).

JCP was instrumental in creating the Palestinian National Front in 1973. Fu’ad Nassar was accepted as a PNC member at the 10th PNC of 1/73 6 and  began to form a military wing to the PNF from 1974; but with mass Israeli arrests in 1974 in response to PNF’s successes, JCP came to recognition that could not continue military activities in West Bank. Armed activities were abandoned by 1975, and  ‘moderate’ Bashir al-Barghuthi took control when Sulayman al-Najjab was deported. In 1975, West Bank JCP finally split, with Salfiti’s supporters forming separate Palestine Communist (Youth: dropped 1977) Organization, while JCP formed a separate Palestinian branch, also called Palestinian Communist Organization (run by a Steering Committee), but which became an autonomous group, the Palestine Communist Party (again), on 10 Feb 82. It received popular support in labor unions. It had reactivated the General Federation of Labor Unions in 1969, directly controlling 12 of of 30 of these unions (though most were small); but this had little function other than issuing statements. Also utilized the voluntary work program and  student groups (which communists dominated in 70s, only ceding the position to Fatah later) for support. Bashir al-Barghuthi was editor-in-chief of al-Fajr from 1975-7; al-Watan and al-Tali’a (most popular weekly in the West Bank) were more direct organs, building popular support. Was supposed to join the PLO in the ‘Aden agreement’ of 1984, but PLO reneged. Eventually it joined in April 1987, accepting a seat for its leader, Sulayman al-Najjab, in PLO-EC. Served as a main force in the first intifada. Opposed to ‘Arafat (eg in Democratic Alliance). With the decline of communism in Eastern Europe, became  the PPP (Oct 91). Bashir al-Barghuthi remained secretary, taking key role in Oslo negotiations; and  supporting a mixed economy. It is now (2002) led (from Oct 98 third convention in Ramallah) by Mustafa Barghuthi, Hana Amira and  ‘Abd al-Majid Hamdan. Web site.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (al-Jabha al-Sha‘biyya li-Tahrir Filastin):

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (al-Jabha al-Sha‘biyya li-Tahrir Filastin) was formed in 1967 based in the Arab Nationalists’ Movement (Harakat al-Qawmiyya al-Arab). It believes Arab disunity and  pro-Western leanings of leaders (especially Abdullah and  Nuri al-Said) were responsible for the 198 disaster (al-Nakba)

Arab Nationalists' Movement - George Habash and  Hani al-Hindi (a Syrian volunteer in 1948 war), both students at the American University of Beirut, started by helping in the formation of the Battalions of Arab Sacrifice (al-Kata'ib al-Fida' al-Arabi), led by Tawfiq al-Hakim (influences from Garibaldi, the Italian Carbonari, the Young Italy Movement, Bismarck, the Ikhwan and  the Syrian National Party, that is, a strain of fascism, which used violence against Western targets. However,  after al-Kata'ib leadership was captured after attempted assassination of Adib Shishakli in 1950, Habash and  al-Hindi decided upon a more focused campaign against Israel through the student group, al-Urwa al-wuthqa (‘The Firmest Bond’), they had been organizing from 1949-50 at the American University of Beirut; also recruiting Wadi‘ Haddad (Abu Hani), a Greek Orthodox Christian refugee from Safad; Ahmad al-Khatib, a Kuwaiti medical student; Muhsin Ibrahim, a Shi‘i Lebanese teacher and formed what became the ANM (Arab Nationists Movement) with assistance of student groups in Lebanon/Syria/Jordan in 1951-2 (though they only took the name in 1956, with 1st conference): liberation of Palestine as primary goal, but seen as possible only through wider anti-colonial campaign in Arab States.

ANMs strongly secularist orientation drew Christians into its ranks. The ANM grew slowly, especially following the dominance of Ba‘thists; but expanded in 1956-7 largely through the recruitment of teachers in UNRWA camps in West Bank, Syria and  Lebanon. Its branch in the Aden region, the National Liberation Front, was especially strong, and  was a key part of the 1967 formation of South Yemen. Used al-Hurriyya (Freedom) magazine as outlet, ed. by Muhsin Ibrahim. With demonstrations against the Baghdad Pact, 22 mostly ANM students were expelled from the American University in Beirut and  were offered places by Nasser at Cairo University. ANM threfore came to coordinate with him more closely, especially after Suez crisis and became firmly supportive of Nasser and  campaign shifted from coordinating commando raids on Israel to undermining of Hashemites and  assisting of Palestinians in Lebanon civil war in 1958, with Syrian help (especially ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Sarraj, interior minister); derived much of its support through its closeness to Nasser (eg dominance of the General Union of Palestine Students by mid60s). But with 1961 and  failed 1963 Syrian coup, shifted base back to Beirut. In 1959, decided that a separate Palestinian committee shd be formed to respond to increased rhetoric from Nasser, but did not form a separate branch; only with increased dominance of those within ANM who argued that social revolution throughout the Arab world was necessary for Palestine liberation (Ibrahim, Hawatmah, Muhammed Kishli), their opponents in the ANM, impatient with ideological debate, regrouped (to much internal contention) at May1964 National Conference to form the Palestinian Action Command, an autonomous Palestinian branch. The refrained from military action at Nasser’s insistence, but were more sympathetic (especially Haddad) to commando action, especially with PLA formation and  Fatah’s commencement of actions. They therefore quietly undertook preparatory steps from late 1963 through the ‘Struggle Apparatus’ and  could claim their first ‘martyr’ on 2 Nov 64 in a reconnaissance mission. They used the weekly Filastin to promote their views.

They increasingly moved to armed struggle, especially with Nasser’s increased bellicosity and  with urgency added by argument that Israel would soon have nuclear weapons and  would have fully settled the Negev. They therefore formed an formed alliance with  the PLO/PLA  to form the Heroes of Return (Abtal al-‘Awda, led by Wajih al-Madani {PLA commander}, commencing attacks from October 1966. Their public rhetoric became increasingly similar to that of Fatah. Thoroughly disillusioned by the ‘67war, at 1st stressing need for careful preparation for military operations; but with popular pressure, Fatah’s relaunch in occupied territories and  Ahmad Jibril’s Palestine Liberation Front announcing the commencement of armed activities, moved to immediate start of combat operations: joined with Jibril’s PLF, the Heroes of Return and  a group of Jordanian Nasserites led by Ahmad Za‘rur to form the PFLP, whose presence was announced through a (failed) attack (11Dec). Although based in Syria, tensions arose with authorities, who suspected them of involvement in coup planning, especially given the historic tension between the ANM and  Ba‘thists. They arrested Habash and  2 other leading members (19 Mar 68), holding them until Habash escaped in Nov, leadership left to Za‘rur and  Jibril. With Habash in prison, leftists led by Hawatmah managed to call a conference to issue a 'Basic political Statement', criticizing Nasser (Aug68) and therefore Nasser cut off aid to PFLP.

PFLP’s decision to withdraw at the battle of Karameh led to extensive internal disputes. Jibril broke away to form PF-GC with Za’rur and  approx.1/4 of PFLP; Hawatmah and  Yasir ‘Abd-Rabbu led the leftists out to form PDFLP (Maoist / Trotskyist), arguing that ANM was cooperating excessively with Arab governments rather than undermining them (assisted by Fatah, Sa’iqa and  PLA): with Lebanese branch, took control of al-Hurriyya. PFLP started al-Hadaf (Target), a weekly edited by Ghassan Kanafani (and  after his assassination, by Bassam Abu Sharif). But with enhanced prestige for guerrillas, also brought large numbers of new recruits. Out of guerrilla groups, most strongly viewed Israelis as enemies, beginning high profile and  international attacks from Jul68, coordinated especially by Haddad. Remained wary of PLO, which it viewed as vulnerable to Arab States’ influence. Therefore it took seats in the PNC from May 68  but did not join PLO. PDFLP split encouraged Marxist and  Maoist turn rhetorically (declared itself a Marxist-Leninist organization from its Feb69 national congress), though leadership remained the same. Thus, ANM dissolved (in effect), with PFLP formally the Palestinian branch of a wider pan-Arab (but otherwise non-existent) party; this turn also led to a break with Egypt, and therefore Iraq, under Ba'thists, became main source of funding. Has seen Palestinian liberation as part of wider Arab revolution, urging and  involving itself in the overthrow of ‘reactionary’ Arab regimes, and  the internationalization of the Palestinian problem (and therefore supported attacks and  hijacking outside ME); rejected the call for a democratic State in PLO Charter. It Only joined PLO (w PF-GC) when it saw Fatah turn against Hashemites in May 70. It  remained with only token participation in PNCs until Jul71 when it joined PLO-EC. Internal rifts after Black September, with many of the younger cadres blaming the leadership’s strategy for provoking the massacres at Mar72 national congress resulting in a temporary suspension of international violence (in part due to USSR pressure; but resumed in Feb72), condemnation of hijacking (5/11/70) and  dissolution of central committee. With Habash and  Hindi retreating from leadership roles from 1972, PFLP was increasingly led by Mustafa al-Zabri (for West Bank, Jordan), Ahmad al-Yamani (for Lebanon), Muhammad al-Musallami (for Gaza). A central committee was re-established in Feb73, and  a politburo in Jun73, but internal splits meant that Habash and  his “central leadership” body were in control. Tension with Syria also constrained activities after 1973; few terrorist attacks (especially explosion of oil storage tanks in Singapore 31Jan75 and  suicide bomb in Tel Aviv cinema 11Dec74) and  failed assassination of King Husayn (1975)  and gradually reduced guerrilla activities. However, it has generally favored armed struggle over diplomacy, and  rejected solutions involving partition. It was therefore instrumental in formation of Rejection Front in Oct 74 under Iraqi aegis, and  led campaign in Lebanon against the phased program, under Taysir Quba‘a. It was criticism of the USSR due to its two State solution proposals. Also, due to unwillingness to restrain activities against Syria and  retreat from alliance with Junblatt during Lebanese civil war (cf Fatah) in 1976, it lost substantial no of its fighters and was  very weak at time of Mar 77 PNC, and  unable to win support for their opposition to Fatah’s program. Only rejoined PLO after ‘unity statement’ of Dec 77 which rejected Sadat’s initiative and  SCR 242, and  rejected negotiation, recognition, peace with Israel, claiming that ‘phased’ political program of Jun74 PNC was over (also in part due to Iraqi reconciliation with conservative Arab governments and danger in losing their source of support).

After Wadi’ Haddad’s death from cancer (28Mar78), it claimed it no longer supported ‘external operations’; but has continued to attempt the assassination of individuals it sees as traitors: especially Shaykh Khuzundar in 1979, Zafir al-Masri in 1986, and  successfully intimidated (and  firebombing of the 2 cars of) Hanna Sinioria (editor of al-Fajr) for standing in the Jerusalem municipal council elections in Jun 87. PFLP’s attempts to regroup opposition to Fatah after Camp David failed, prompting reexit from PLO-EC and  cooperation with Abu Nidal faction (Jan79). From late79, obtained support primarily from Syria, USSR, Libya, and  became critical of Iraq and  China. However, shift of strategy at Apr-May81 national congress, which accepted that partition could be the first step toward total liberation. It was outside the PLO-EC again from 1985-7, and  from Jan 92 when it called for withdrawal from Madrid process. It had retracted by May92, insisting instead that the terms of participation in talks to be changed. By September, it joined with DFLP in calling for negotiations to be based on SCR242 which led to opposition coalition of 10 being formed in Damascus. Came to be led by Mustafa al-Zabri (Abu Ali Mustafa) as Habash moved out of center stage, formally from the 6th national Congress in Jul 00, until his assassination in Aug 01 by Israel. The PFLP was responsible for the assassination of Israeli Tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi in October 2001, in revenge for the assassination of Zabri.

Ahmad Sa'adat was elected to replace Mustafa al-Zabri in Oct01. Other leaders include ‘Abd al-Rahim Malluh (non-participating member of the PLO-EC, deputy Secretary General from Oct01), Taysir Quba‘a Jamil al-Majdalawi (in  Gaza), Mahayr al-Tahir (PF spokesman, based in Damascus), Ahmad Qatamish, Sabir Muhyi al-Din. The 1st meeting between ‘Arafat and  PF representatives  in 1Aug99 in Cairo to discuss reconciliation. It left the Damascus 10 grouping, and  participates in the NIF. " Political initiative" of 30 Oct 00 is clearest in its limited call for a State in the 1967 territories.

Organization - The PFLP central institutions are:

i) the national congress, the supreme governing body, supposedly meeting every 4 years, but has only met 6 times, in Aug 68 (‘left’ wing vs ‘right’), Feb69 (accepting Marxist-Leninism), Mar 72 (critique of PF’s role in Jordan), Apr- May 81 (accepting an independent Palestinian State), Feb93 (Habash-led criticism of the acting leadership, for compromising too much with Fatah), Jul00 (appointing Zabri as Secretary General , recognizing reality of the PA whilst reiterating ultimate goal of all Palestine). Also extraordinary session in Oct01, after Zabri's murder, electing Sa'adat as Secretary General . National congress elects the central committee;

ii) the central committee, making policies between congress sessions and  intended to meet every 6 months; elects the secretary-general and  politburo members.

iii) the politburo, acting when central committee is not in session. At branch, regional and  district levels, the PFLP operates through supervisory congresses and  supervisory commands, which inter alia elects representatives to the higher organizational levels. Next level down is the league (made up of 3-5 cells). On the ground, the PFLP operates through cells and  circles, consisting of 3-10 members and  trainees, each with own leader, who are responsible for the training of recruits.  Website

Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP; al-Jabha al-Dimuqratiyya li-Tahrir Filastin)

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP; al-Jabha al-Dimuqratiyya li-Tahrir Filastin) was  formed from a break from PFLP in Feb 1969 as the Popular DFLP. It changed its name in Aug74). It called for more Maoist and  non-Nasserist approach in opposition to Habash, and demanded a socialist policy and  alignment of Arab world, drawing models from China, Vietnam and  Cuba. Led by Nayif Hawatmah, Yasir ‘Abd Rabbu, ‘Abd al-Karim Hammad (Abu Adnan or Abu Qays; from Upper Galilee, a founder of ANM), Qays Samarra’i. It worked in parallel with Muhsin Ibrahim's Organization for Communist Action in Lebanon, which provided al-Hurriyya weekly newspaper to the DF. Also publd al-Sharara (The Spark, after Lenin's Iskra). Critical of international terrorism (especially since it was conducted by PFLP), seeing it as a poor substitute for mass action.

Despite its criticism of ‘Arafat, DFLP has always supported PLO unity; was foremost in articulating the goal of a democratic State to serve as a home for Arabs and  Jews, accepting Jewish claims to nationhood and  the role for Jews in creating the democratic State. Supported concept of a national authority from Nov73, especially  articulated in Hawatmah's 24/2/74 speech, claiming this would allow the struggle for return to the homeland to continue » was the strongest proponent of Jun74 PNC resolutionn. It Was also opposed to the division between Jordan and  Palestine, arguing that as it was a British creation, it was unnatural » popular movements in both shd unite. Has never advocated violence outside the Middle East. DFLP was pro-Soviet, and this was reciprocated in USSR funding, and has a strong Christian contingent. Due to its advocacy of 2 State solution, has used violence in Israel to achieve its radical credentials (and  thus funding, especially after Iraq cut funds in 1974), eg Ma’alot 1974, which brought in Libyan assistance, and  W. Jerusalem bombing of 20 Dec 74 which killed 12 Israelis. Despite its general support for PLO/PNC, shifted allegiance to the rejectionist front in May 78, criticizing ‘Arafat’s autocratic style of leadership, continued links to Egypt and  closeness to Saudi, as well as Fatah’s attempts to lead PLO into peace process with US. Joint memorandum with 4 rejectionist groups (24 May 78) also condemned PLO’s policy of restraint in Lebanon. Prominent later DF-CC members include Jamil Hilal (head of information; also Secretariat of GUPWJ), Sa‘id ‘Abd al-Hadi (secretary to international relations dept) and  Azmi Shu‘aybi; other present leaders include Taysir Khalid, Charles Sawwan, Salah Zaydan (head of DFLP in Gaza, member of politburo) and  Farid Sarru‘. DFLP split in 1990-1, with ‘Abd Rabbu supporting ‘Arafat in dealings with US (as he acted as head of PLO side in this 1988-90); after armed clashes between contending factions in Syria in Aug 90, formed non-Marxist FIDA (Apr 91). Remaining DFLP joined Syria-based opposition; but argued that they should recognize the legitimacy of the Dec 98 PNC in Gaza. By Aug 99, us engaged in meetings with PLO representatives and ‘Arafat to bring them back into the fold. They produced joint statement with Fatah defining the Palestinian “red lines”, and agreeing that a Palestinian referendum should be held before any final deal with Israel is ratified. Expelled from Damascus 10 grouping, and  participates in NIF.

Organization - The DFLP  institutions are:

The National Congress, the supreme governing body, that has only met in Aug 70 (escalating anti-Hashemite rhetoric) and  May 81;

The Central Committee, which elects the secretary-general and  politburo members;

The Politburo, acting when the central committee is not in session.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (al-Qiyada al-'amma):

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (al-Qiyada al-'amma): established by Ahmad Jibril and  Ahmad Za’rur in October 1968 in split from PFLP, again splitting in ‘68 between 2 founders, with latter forming Organization of Arab Palestine. Participated in PLO-CC meetings, but only joined PNC and  PLO-EC in 1974. Jibril’s PFLP-GC has always been pro-Syria (such as support for Syria’s intervention in Lebanon in 1976). Libyan aid from 1969, but declined due to internal divisions from Sept 70; regained prominence with Qiryat Shmona raid of Apr 74; brought in more Libyan and  Iraqi aid. Desire for reconciliation with Syria, however, led it to support June 74 PNC resolution. Support for the resolution was later retracted due to dissent within organization, and it joined the Rejectionist Front. With increased dispute between Palestinian groups after Camp David, PF-GC became main conduit for Libyan aid. Joined Fatah-Uprising in ‘83, leaving PLO (and  excluded from Nov84 PNC); member of National Alliance and  PNSF. Gained in popularity in occupied territories with its popular radio program Al-Quds, broadcast from Southern Syria during intifada. From 1989, cultivated ties with Iran, attending Islamic conference in Tehran in Dec 90. Later joined Damascus 10, but participates in NIF. Has used innovative means of armed struggle, such as the Nov 87 attack on Israeli army base by hand glider (killing 6 Israeli soldiers), and  its capture of an Israeli soldier in 1978 and  subsequent exchange for 83 Palestinians prisoners: these acts won it respect; it has a well developed presence in Lebanon, but has failed to hold onto support in occupied territories. Deputy secretary-general is Talal Naji, who is now effectively the leader. Other main leaders have included Abu-l-Abbas (spokesman), ‘Abd al-Fattah Ghanim (both of whom left to establish PLF), Abu Husam (Libyan rep), Fadl Shrur.

al-Sa‘iqa (Storm, Lightning Bolt):

al-Sa‘iqa (Storm, Lightning Bolt) is a commando group formed by (and  mostly consisting of) Syrian Ba‘thists officially in Sept1966, but it became operational only in Dec 68 to rival Fatah and  to support Jadid in his power struggle with Asad for Syrian leadership. The original leadership consisted of Yusuf Zu’ayyin, Mahmud al-Ma‘ayta (from Nov70); but these were replaced with Asad loyalists after the Nov 70 coup. The pro-Jadid branch remained active in Jordan until Jun 71, when its were leaders arrested  and Zuhayr Muhsin was appointed Secretary General. It was an early supporter of the 'national authority' proposal in 1974, and  was a co-sponsor of the 1974  Palestine National Council Resolution. It is strictly pan-Arabist, denying a Palestinian identity except as a tactical maneuver.  Zuhayr Muhsin was assassinated in Cannes, Jul 79. More recently is has been led by ‘Isam al-Qadi (Secretary General from 1979), with Muhammed Khalifah as deputy   (who sits on the PLO-EC), Sami al-‘Atari and  Majid Muhsin (head of operations in Lebanon; Zuhayr's brother). It is consistently pro-Syria and fought alongside Syrian forces in Lebanon in 1976 against all other PLO forces. It was disqualified from the PLO until Syria pressured for its rehabilitation in Dec 76, with a  large number of defections from Sa‘iqa at this point. Thereafter, it lobbied within PLO mostly against Fatah's links with conservative regimes, especially with Egypt. It was against the Madrid conference and  Oslo accords, and is leading member of the “Damascus 10”. Nevertheless it participates in NIF (National Islamic Forces) from 2000.

Arab Liberation Front (Jabhat al-Tahrir al-‘Arabiyya)

Arab Liberation Front (Jabhat al-Tahrir al-‘Arabiyya) was established as a guerrilla group in Apr 69 by Iraqi Ba‘thists, as an alliance between Fatah, Egypt and  Syria developed, and  after Sa‘iqa formed; continued to be sponsored by Iraq. Pan-Arabist, initially aimed at reversing the 'Palestinianization' of the conflict; but joined PLO nevertheless (Jul 69). Led by Zayd Haydar (Secretary General in 1970), Munif al-Razzaz (a Jordanian; 60s/70s), ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Kayyali (at least 72-74), ‘Abd al-Rahim Ahmad (at least from 1975-91), Mahmud Isma’il (93). Current Secretary General is Rakad Salem (b.1944); Husayn Rahhal is also prominent. It is opposed to the Oslo accords, but has maintained participation in PLO  and  participates in NIF. Shares an office floor in Ramallah with the PLF. It also has offices in Lebanon and  Iraq. Much of its work now is distributing grants from the Iraqi government to families of "martyrs" in Palestine.

Fatah-Revolutionary Council

The Fatah-Revolutionary Council was established by Sabri al-Banna  with the cooperation of Iraqi authorities and  produced the magazine Filastin al-Thawra. At first, maintained links with PLO intelligence apparatus from pre-BS Jordan, including Samih Abu Kuwayk and Naji ‘Allush; even possibly covert links with Abu Iyad. But escalating tensions with PLO: ‘Allush was briefly detained in Aug74; F-RC associate, Muhammed ‘Abd al-Ghafur, killed in Beirut on ‘Arafat's orders (12Sept74); F-RC attempted to assassinate Abu Mazin, but operatives were captured and Abu Nidal was sentenced to death on PLO-CC decision. Its most famous acts have been assassination attempt on Shlomo Argov (London, 1982) (this was the excuse for the Israeli invasion of Lebanon) assassinations of Said Hamami and  ‘Izz al-Din Qalaq (1978), Naim Khudr (1981), ‘Isam Sartawi (1983), Abu Iyad (1991). Moved closer to Libya from late70s, and seen to be acting on behalf of them: eg assassination of Yusuf al-Siba‘i, editor of al-Ahram (Cyprus, 1978), hijacking of Egyptian plane to Malta in 1985 (stormed at Valletta). In 1989, various leaders (including Atif Abu Bakr, chief spokesman) moved to Sudan with 150 members, denouncing Libya. From 1992, Libya enforced inactivity. The group unsuccessfully tried to gain control of Sidon refugee camp in early 90s; and  was involved in the assassination of the First Secretary of the Jordanian embassy in Lebanon in 1994, leading to vigorous attempts by the Lebanese army to destroy its remaining infrastructure; Jordan convicted (in absentia) Abu Nidal and  four others to death for this on 3 Dec 01. Present leaders including ‘Ali al-Farra ("Dr Kamal"), in charge of espionage. Now seen to be working on behalf of Egyptian intelligence, including assassination of Shaykh Salah ‘Abd al-Mutalib (imam in Yemen, leader of Egyptian Jihad). Former members have now been allowed by Israel to live in the West Bank and Gaza, suggesting past F-RC links with Israel.

Hamas ( Harakat al-Muqawima al-Islamiyya, Islamic Resistance Movement)

See Hamas History

Islamic Jihad (Al-Jihad al-Islami)

See also updated article: Palestinian Islamic Jihad

Islamic Jihad (Al-Jihad al-Islami) is thought to have emerged as a nationalist splinter from the Muslim Brotherhood in 70s or 80s, arguing that the struggle against occupation had to precede spreading religious values in society. IJ saw Israel (not the leftists) as the main opponent, and  supported the Iranian revolution, which Mujama could not later support due to their funding links with Saudi Arabia. It was led by Sheikh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ‘Awda until his deportation (1988); then by Fathi Shiqaqi until his murder in Malta (October 1995). It is generally thought to be a number of different activist and  revolutionary groups, mostly with good links to Fatah, who may have encouraged IJ to draw support from the Ikhwan. All groups have as a priority the ending of Israeli occupation, seen as a prerequisite for Islamic ascendancy, and  for appropriating nationalist sentiment. They place a high value on the sacrifice of life, with first attempts on suicide car bombs, especially the Aug 87 planning in Bethlehem for a young woman, Atif Aliyan, to car bomb the Israeli Ministry of Justice, which Israel prevented.

The largest group is  the Gazan group, which built up support especially in Israeli prisons and was  instrumental in setting the climate for the Intifada through military activities against Israeli targets from Oct 86, including the murder of 2 Israeli taxi drivers and the spectacular escape of IJ detainees from Israeli jail in May87; widespread grenade attacks on Israeli army patrols; Israeli reprisals in Oct87 in Shujai’a area of Gaza city killed 3 Palestinian residents and  4 IJ members, who were declared martyrs a symbolism important in building intifada). The Islamic Jihad Jerusalem Brigade, led by Sheikh As’ad Bayyud Tamimi, who had been active in Hebron Ikhwan and  Liberation Party in 50s/60s, but deported to Jordan in 1970 and launched attacks on Israel from there in late80s. Possibly responsible for the stabbing of Aharon Gross, a Yeshiva student, in Hebron Jul 83, though murderers never identified; claimed responsibility for the grenade attack on the military passing-out ceremony at the Wailing Wall, killing one soldier’s father, but Israel claimed Fatah coordination. The Islamic Jihad Battalion was established 1985 by Bassam Sultan, in close cooperation with Fatah  (possibly a Fatah attempt to take support from Shqaqi-‘Awda faction.  The IJ of Palestine is led by Jamal Amar and  based in Sudan. More recent attacks on Israel have been on soldiers and  settlers, especially Nov 94 attack on Netzarim junction (3 soldiers killed); Jan 95 bomb at Netanya that killed 18 soldiers and  1 civilian; Apr 95 van bomb on Israeli bus, killing 8 soldiers; and Oct 00 bomb attack on W. Jerusalem that killed 2 civilians. Unlike Hamas, Islamic Jihad takes part in PLO-CC, with Mahmud Asad al-Tamimi and Ibrahim Kamil al-Itr taking seats. Damascus-based leadership consists of Ramadan Shallah (Secretary General ), Ziyad Nahala (deputy Secretary General , responsible for Lebanon), Ibrahim Shihada, Ahmad Muhana. IJ Has participated in PA cabinet meetings since October 00; and has a full role in NIF.

Recently (2002) Islamic Jihad has been funding terror attacks and operations by other groups, including the Al-Aqsa brigades, apparently from sums received from Iran and funneled through the Lebanese Hisbulla.

The following background material about the Palestinian Islamic Jihad was prepared by the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies:


Meir Litvak
Moshe Dayan Center ‎
for Middle Eastern and African Studies

The Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is the most radical terrorist organization ‎operating in the Palestinian arena. It was established in 1981 by two Islamist ‎activists in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Fathi `Abd al-`Aziz Shiqaqi, a physician from ‎Rafah, and Shaykh `Abd al-`Aziz `Awda, a preacher from the Jabaliyya refugee ‎camp. The two men, who had studied in Zaqaziq University, a center of Islamic ‎radicalism in Egypt, rejected the approach of the mainstream Islamic movement, ‎the Muslim Brethren, to the Palestine question. The Brethren maintained that the ‎Muslim world should deal with Israel only after curing its own spiritual and ‎religious ills by returning the masses to Islam and revitalizing Islam. Once ‎Muslim unity was achieved, the Muslim Brethren believed, Israel’s destruction ‎would be quickly achieved. By contrast, Shiqaqi argued that Israel, by its very ‎existence, was a source of moral and spiritual corruption that prevented Muslims ‎from remedying the malaise of their society.‎
The Islamic Jihad’s ideology blended Palestinian nationalist ideas with themes ‎drawn from three other sources: the ideology of the Muslim Brethren; patterns of ‎activity of the militant Islamist groups in Egypt; and, uniquely among Sunni ‎movements, the teachings of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Shi`i leader of the Islamic ‎revolution in Iran.‎

According to the Islamic Jihad, a proper reading of the Quran and an ‎understanding of history would lead to the conclusion that Palestine is the focus ‎of the religio-historical confrontation between the Muslims and their eternal ‎enemies, the Jews. The Muslims represent the forces of truth (haq) while the ‎Jews (and Christians) embody the forces of apostasy (batil). In the context of ‎this confrontation, the Palestine problem is the core of a Western offensive that ‎began with Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798 and reached its climax in 1918 ‎with the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, which had symbolized Islamic ‎unity. According to this view, Palestine was always the focus of Western ‎imperialist designs and was meant to serve as a launch pad to take over other ‎Muslim territories.‎
Inasmuch as the Jewish presence in Palestine symbolizes Muslim inferiority in ‎the modern age, commitment to Palestine cannot be framed in the narrow ‎confines of Palestinian nationalism. Instead, it is an essentially Islamic issue and ‎is the key "to every serious strategy aimed at the liberation and unification of the ‎Islamic nation.” Herein lays the Islamic Jihad’s ideological innovation. The ‎jihad in Palestine entails a commitment to two inter-related goals: the liberation ‎of Palestine and pan-Islamic revival. Jihad is the only way to liberate Palestine, ‎since Muslim victory and the elimination of Israel are foreordained by God’s ‎words in the Quran.‎
Shiqaqi praised Ayatollah Khomeini for being the first Muslim leader to give ‎Palestine its proper place in his Islamic ideology. In addition, the Islamic ‎revolution in Iran was a major victory in the struggle against western attempts to ‎exclude Islam from politics, and was uniquely successful in establishing a state ‎founded on Islamic law. Therefore, the PIJ, alone among Sunni Islamist ‎movements, saw Khomeini as the rightful leader of the entire Muslim world.‎

The PIJ began its armed operations in 1984. Shiqaqi was arrested in March ‎‎1986 and was deported to Lebanon, along with `Awda, in April 1988. He ‎continued to lead the movement from exile until his assassination by Israeli ‎agents in Malta in October 1995. Dr. Ramadan `Abdallah Shallah succeeded ‎him and set up his headquarters in Damascus. Since Shiqaqi was a charismatic ‎and excessively centralist leader, the movement needed some time before it ‎could resume operations.‎
While Islamic Jihad preceded Hamas (established in 1988), it remained the ‎smaller of the two movements. Hamas became a mass movement with a political ‎branch grounded in a widespread network of religious and welfare institutions. ‎By contrast, the Islamic Jihad remained a revolutionary vanguard of several ‎hundred activists. During the 1987-1993 intifada, the PIJ sought cooperation or ‎unity with Hamas, but the latter was reluctant to move in this direction.

Shiqaqi’s move to Lebanon enhanced the movement’s ties with Hizballah and ‎Iran. Iran became the movement’s major financial sponsor, and Hizballah ‎provided it with training facilities and logistical aid. Thanks to Hizballah’s ‎support, the PIJ expanded its network in the Palestinian refugee camps in ‎Lebanon. Whereas Hamas was always an independent Palestinian movement, ‎Islamic Jihad became an instrument of Iranian policy in the Arab-Israeli conflict.‎

Both PIJ and Hamas rejected the 1993 Oslo Accords as a betrayal of Palestinian ‎and Islamic rights, and they launched attacks against Israeli targets in a “race” ‎‎(Shiqaqi’s own word) to halt the peace process. By 2000, PIJ could take credit ‎for killing several dozen Israelis, mostly civilians. While it refused to recognize ‎the Palestinian Authority as a legitimate government and did not participate in ‎the 1996 PA elections, Islamic Jihad did not challenge the PA politically in the ‎same manner as did Hamas. However, it was easier for the PA to take strong ‎measures against the Islamic Jihad, as the smaller organization, and it closed al-‎Istiqlal, the Jihad newspaper in Gaza, and arrested some low-level activists.‎

The outbreak of the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation in September 2000 gave a ‎boost to the Islamic Jihad. Along with Hamas, it claimed that jihad was the only ‎way to drive Israel out of the West Bank and Gaza, as the first phase in the ‎complete liberation of Palestine. It enjoyed full freedom of action and ‎apparently some logistical support from PA officials, as well. On the operational ‎level, Islamic Jihad activists joined hands with Hamas and Fatah activists in ‎carrying out attacks against Israeli targets. Concurrently, the Islamic Jihad ‎competed with the two other movements in carrying out more daring and ‎devastating operations, as a way to enhance its prestige.‎

Despite its successes, PIJ remains a small movement. According to numerous ‎opinion polls, it enjoys the support of only 4-5% of the Palestinian population, ‎mainly because it lacks the institutional network built by Hamas. That fact, ‎however, enables Islamic Jihad to focus on its ideological goals and disregard ‎wider political considerations. Consequently, the Islamic Jihad did not ‎participate in the Cairo talks held during mid-November between Fatah and ‎Hamas to discuss a possible temporary suspension of suicide bombings inside ‎Israel, and it persists in carrying out its devastating attacks.‎

The following material was prepared by the Israel government:

The Islamic Jihad movement emerged as an ideological stream within Sunni Islam, primarily from within the Moslem Brotherhood, as a reaction to the weakening of the latter's militant fervor. It continues to espouse militancy and violence as the major tool in the struggle to establish an 'Islamic alternative'. This struggle is directed not only against non-Muslims, but primarily against the Arab regimes which have 'deviated'from Islam and which persecuted the Moslem Brotherhood.

Groups belong to the Islamic Jihad have appeared in almost all the Arab states and in some parts of the non-Arab Islamic world under various names. They were influenced by the success of the revolution in Iran, and even more so by the growth of Islamic militancy in Lebanon and in Egypt.

Background: The Palestinian factions of the Islamic Jihad are the Palestinian counterpart of the Islamic Jihad movements which appeared in the Sunni part of the Arab world in the 1970s. These movements, which were an outgrowth of the fundamentalism of the Moslem Brotherhood, were characterized by their rejection of the Brotherhood's 'truce' with most of the existing regimes in the Arab world. Thus, the major difference between them and the Moslem Brotherhood was and remains their advocation of violence as the major tool in changing the face of societies and regimes.

Unlike the Islamic Jihad movements in Arab countries, the Palestinian factions of the Islamic Jihad view the 'Zionist Jewish entity' embodied in the State of Israel as the foremost enemy and the first target for destruction. This because of the special situation prevailing in 'Palestine', which they view as an integral and fundamental part of the Arab and Moslem world, where Muslims are 'subjected' to foreign rule.Since the regime is foreign an non-Moslem, the methods of resistance to be used are different from those adopted by similar groups operating against Moslem and Ara b regimes. The ideology of the Palestinian Jihad factions calls for armed struggle against Israel through guerrilla groups composed of the revolutionary vanguard, which carry out terrorist attacks aimed at weakening Israel and 'its desire to continue its occupation'. They are thus to lay the groundwork for the day when a great Islamic army will be able to destroy Israel in a military confrontation.

The Shekaki Faction The Shekaki faction of the Islamic Jihad movement has emerged in recent years, particularly since the signing of the Declaration of Principles between Israel and the PLO, as the dominant faction within this movement,both in terrorist attacks and in the public-political sphere. The faction is today headed by Dr. Fathi Shekaki, who has succeeded in pushing aside the co-founder of the organization, Abed el-Aziz Ouda, considered its spiritual leader (the faction was originally called 'Shekaki/Ouda').

The founders of this faction, which operates primarily in the Gaza district, were influenced by the emergence of similar political groups in Egyptian universities, where some of its leaders studied in the late 1970s and early '80s. Upon their return to Gaza they founded similar groups whose aim was to promote the idea of armed struggle against Israel. With the deportation of its two leaders from Gaza to Lebanon in 1988, the faction underwent a reorganization, resulting in the establishment of a military unit to carry out attacks against Israeli targets, alongside the existing political unit. (Sheikh Abdullah al-Shami is today considered the senior operative in the Gaza Strip.) The movement's ideology isdisseminated openly, through the distribution of propaganda material and tapes, with the mosques serving as an influential tool. In addition, a newspaper called 'Al-Istaqlal' has begun to appear in the area under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, edited by Ala Siftawi, which conforms with the political views of the Islamic Jihad.

Dr. Shekaki, who resides in Damascus, enjoys freedom of expression. His organization is one of the ten Palestinian opposition factions based in Syria. Shekaki boasts of his close ties with Iran -- which, according to him, were strengthened following his first visit to Teheran in December 1988 (his most recent visit to Iran was apparently in October 1993, following the signing of the DOP) -- and with its Lebanese extension, the Hizbullah. He recently cited his ideological-political ties with Iran -- 'our ties with the Islamic Republic, and its political and spiritual support of the Palestinian people's efforts to continue the jihad and to achieve independence.' According to him, the organization does not receive Iranian military aid and does not have a base in Iran, but notes that Iranian support for his organization and HAMAS amounts to 20 million dollars ('Al-Hayat', 17.12.94; 'Al-Wassat', 12.12.94).

The Shekaki faction, which opposes the agreement between the Palestinians and Israel, has intensified the tone of its anti-Israeli statements, especially after the murder of Islamic Jihad activist Hani Abed in Gaza (2.11.94). Shekaki said: 'The continuation of the jihad against the Zionist occupation is our primary concern and the center of our lives' (Radio Nur, 12.11.94); and: 'We shall raise arms against the criminal Israelis wherever they may be in the autonomous territory and outside it. We have a new reason which justifies the continuation of our struggle.' (Iranian TV, 3.11.94). In another statement, he announced the establishment of a group of 70 people prepared to commit suicide 'in order to carry out attacks against the occupation forces in the self-governing areas. Such attacks in the Gaza Strip will cease only when the Israeli settlements in the area will be disbanded... If this will occur, the suicide attacks will be transferred to other areas, because our fight against the occupation will continue' (AP, 18.11.94).


The Fatah-Uprising was formed in 1982/83, claiming ‘Arafat’s corruption had prevented effective Palestinian response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. It was  led largely by Fatah colonel Sa’id Musa Muragha . Joined PNSF in 1985, and  despite brief rapprochement with Fatah, opposed Oslo and therefore joined the “Damascus 10”. It does not participate in the NIF. The effective leader now is Abu Khalid al-‘Umla, and the group still has a substantial following in the Lebanese refugee camps.

Palestine Liberation Front (Jabhat al-Tahrir al-Filastiniyya)

The Palestine Liberation Front (Jabhat al-Tahrir al-Filastiniyya) was formed by Muhammed Abu ‘Abbas Zaydan (Abu-l-‘Abbas) and  Tal‘at Ya‘qub in Apr77, after split from PFLP-GC due to its support for Syria’s attacks on PLO in Lebanon in 1976  and open clashes between wings in Lebanon led to its separate existence, in an ‘Arafat-brokered compromise. It began as a pro-Iraqi member of the rejectionist front. It has had continued clashes with PF-GC, especially after an explosion at PLF main offices in Beirut on 13/8/77 which killed 200, apparently due done by the PFLP-GC. Kidnapped 51 UNIFIL soldiers in S.Lebanon in 1978, but later released them. Split into 3 different factions from early 80s, with centrist pro-Damascus faction under Tal‘at Ya‘qub challenging pro-Iraqi faction under Abu-l-‘Abbas and  ‘Ali Ishaq, who in turn effected a rapprochement with mainstream PLO in 1983 (and  took part in the Amman PNC of Nov 84). Minor faction under ‘Abd al-Fattah Ghanim was militantly pro-Syria; and  reconciled with Ya‘qub’s faction that latter left Democratic Alliance to join Ghanim in creating PNSF in Mar85; but this grouping declined with death of Ya‘qub from a heart attack in Nov 88. Abu-l-‘Abbas drew intense international criticism to PLO due to PLF’s hijacking of the Achille Lauro (Oct85), and  its attempted seaborne raid nr Tel Aviv in May 90. To defuse criticism, Abu-l-‘Abbas replaced by ‘Ali Ishaq on PLO-EC in 1991; but because of its opposition to Madrid and  Oslo processes. Ishaq boycotts the PLO-EC seat. PLF is a  member of the “Damascus 10”, but participates in NIF. Other leaders include Wasil Abu Yusuf, Omar Shibli, Abu Nidal al-Ashqar (who is the recognized leader).

Popular Resistance Committees

Radical Islamist (Jihadist) group formed in 2000 for the Second Intifada either from deserters from Fatah and other organizations or as an umbrella organization for these groups. This group has the goal of wiping out Israel and establishing an Islamist state, and is therefore not compatible with Fatah or PFLP secular or Marxist ideologies, but its members are former or current members of those groups, as well as including members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Hamas. 

See Popular Resistance Committees


Active Organization for the Liberation of Palestine (AOLP)

Active Organization for the Liberation of Palestine (AOLP) was originally established by Dr ‘Isam Sartawi (a non-practicing physician) in 1967 as a non-combatant organization to provide medical services to fida’iyyun; merged with Fatah in Feb 68; independently reestablished by Sartawi after he argued with ‘Arafat in a PLO meeting in 11/68; began with just 17 of Sartawi’s supporters in Fatah. Was helped by Iraqi troops in Jordan, which offered to protect his training camp (Sartawi had lived in Baghdad and  had good relations with government); claimed to operate through snipers on the Jordanian border. It supported Nasser ideologically and  was the only group to support Nasser’s acceptance of the Rogers Plan, but had no connection with Nasserist leaders 1968-70 . Rejoined Fatah at July 1971 PNC, after effectively disbanding during Black September. Sartawi was assassinated in Portugal on 12 Apr 83.

Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (Jabhat al-nidal al-sha'biyya al-filastiniyya)

The Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (Jabhat al-nidal al-sha'biyya al-filastiniyya): an oppositional group within the PLO. Started as PPS Organization from within the West Bank by former ANM recruits, especially Subhi Ghusha; altho created before 1967 war, its 1st statement was in Jul 67. When Ghusha was held by Israel for 8 months, led by Bahjat Abu Gharbiyya (former Ba‘thist leader), Samir Ghawsha and  Fayiz Hamdan (former PLA major) who was represented on the 1st PLO-EC. Worked closely in support of Fatah in West Bank after 1967, and became affiliated to Fatah from 1971, but soon broke (1973). Close to Egyptian intelligence, and  operating largely through airline and  airport attacks (eg attack on El Al offices in Athens, 27 Nov 69; hijacking of Olympic Airlines flight from Beirut to Athens, 22 Jul 70). After decline, was revived by Syria and  Libya under Samir Ghawsha in 1982 (who remains on the PLO-EC). Founder member of 1974 rejectionist group; and  member of National Alliance and  PNSF; but left in 1988 and  re-joined PLO-EC in Sept91 after accepting the PLO's endorsement of SCR242 joined PLO-EC in Sept91. However, went on to help found the Damascus 10. PPSF activists were originally suspected of involvement in the Lockerbie bombing of 1988; uncertainties remain about their role, if any, but continues to receive funds from Libya. Participates in NIF. Seems to have split into pro- and  anti- PA factions, with the opposing group based in Damascus and  led by Khalid ‘Abd al-Majid (who also coordinates links with Damascus 10); and pro-PA group still tied to Ghawsha and  Abu Gharbiyya. Other leaders including Ahmad Majdalani (now working for PA in International and  Arab Affairs) and  Nabil Muhammed al-Qiblani.

The Palestinian Revolutionary Communist Party (al-Hizb al-Shuyu‘i al-Thawri al-Filastini)

The Palestinian Revolutionary Communist Party  (al-Hizb al-Shuyu‘i al-Thawri al-Filastini): Palestinian communists in Lebanon in favor of armed struggle, also portraying itself as the dissident wing of the PCP; led by ‘Arabi ‘Awwad . Has been pro-Syria,  supporting the National Alliance and  PNSF; joined Damascus 10. Despite participation of most pro-Syrian groups in NIF from 2000, PRCP boycotts it.

The Palestinian Democratic Union (Al-Ittihad al-Dimuqrati al-Filastini, Fida)

The Palestinian Democratic Union (Al-Ittihad al-Dimuqrati al-Filastini, Fida) is a reformist movement within the PLO, arising from  a 1990-1 split within DFLP, with Yasir ‘Abd Rabbu forming break-away faction, Fida, to remove involvement from Jordanian politics; and  later to critically support Madrid and  Oslo processes. It continued to claim to be the DFLP until 1993, when it took up a new name. Largely consists of West Bank residents. Gained a seat on PLO-EC, and  won a seat (Ramallah district) in ‘96 PLC elections. Participates in NIF. Other leaders including Salih Ra’fat (who is the party’s Secretary General), Salih Salih, Ali ‘Amr, Mahmud Nawfal, ‘Isam ‘Abd al-Latif, Zahira Kamal, Azmi Shu‘aybi.

Adopted from http://middleeast.reference.users.btopenworld.com/Castlist.html

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