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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

 

In Memorium: Dr. Haidar Abdul Shafi: 1919-2007



Born in Gaza in 1919; son of Sheikh Muheiddin Abdul Shafi; received his early education in Gaza, secondary education at the Arab College in Jerusalem, graduating in 1936; studied Medicine at the AUB, graduating with a MD in 1943; while in Beirut, joined the ANM; after graduation, worked in the British Government Hospital of Jaffa; joined the Jeish Al-Badiah (Desert Army) of the British Jordanian Army in 1944 as medical officer; returned to Gaza in 1945 and opened a private practice; co-founder and member of the Arab Medical Society since 1945; participated in the first Palestine Medical Congress in 1946; provided medical aid to Palestinian guerillas in the clashes that erupted in the wake of the 1947 UN Partition Plan, then helped in humanitarian relief efforts until UNRWA was established in 1951;left for further studies in surgery at the Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, US, returning in 1954; worked as surgeon at the Tal Zahur Hospital in Gaza; named member of a municipal council installed by Israel during its 1956 invasion/occupation of Gaza, but refused to serve; appointed by the Egyptians as Director for Medical Services in the Gaza Strip, 1957-60, then returned to private practice; first head of the Gaza Parliament’s Legislative Council from 1962-65; member of the first all-Palestinian conference in Jerusalem in 1964, which established the PLO, and elected one of three assistants to chair Ahmed Shuqeiri; member of the first PLO Exec. Committee established in Aug. 1964 and member of the opposition against Shuqeiri; volunteer at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza during the War of 1967; in 1967, temporarily detained by Israel,
in 1969 expelled for three months to Nahal, Sinai, and in Sept. 1970 deported for two months to Lebanon – all for support of PLO activities; founded the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Gaza in 1972 and served as its head since; prevented from leaving Gaza after publicly opposing the 1978 Camp David talks; head of the Palestinian team of the Palestinian-Jordanian delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference in Oct. 1991; led the Palestinian negotiation team for 22 months in the subsequent Washington talks; called for a referendum in the OPT on whether or not to pursue the peace process in Sept. 1992; resigned in April 1993 (over the issue of settlements), then resumed position under pressure but eventually left the Palestinian negotiating team over the Oslo Accords, predicting its collapse from the outset; strong critic of the lack of democracy within the PLO; led a delegation to Tunis in Jan. 1994 to demand that Arafat share power and set up collective leadership; among the Palestinian figures from various political backgrounds who met in Amman in Dec. 1994 to establish the Palestinian Democratic Party; elected to the PLC in 1996 (Gaza Constituency); ran for the post of PLC speaker, but lost to Ahmed Qrei’a by 57-31 votes; became head of the PLC’s Political Committee; walked out of the April 1996 PNC meeting after being denied to express his opinion for not amending the PNC Charter until Israel gave reciprocal recognition; resigned from PLC in Oct. 1997 (effective from 30 March 1998) on the grounds that it lacked real power to change the Palestinians’ situation; initiated unity talks for all factions in Gaza in April 1998; highly respected secular nationalist leader and non-partisan figure in Gaza; founding member of the Palestinian National Initiative (Mubadara), launched in Ramallah in Jan. 2002, together with Mustafa Barghouthi and Ibrahim Dakkak; member of the Birzeit University Board of Trustees; Commissioner-General of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizen’s Rights (PICCR) until 2004.

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