An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Conflict and Conflict Resolution, 1945-1996

By John E. Jessup | Go to book overview
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Habash (Habbash), George.
(b. 1925, near Haifa, Palestine; also reported as 1926, Lod, Palestine) Born a Greek Orthodox Christian, Habash received his early education in Jerusalem and fought against the Israelis during the War for Independence in 1948. After the war, he became disillusioned with the Arab leadership and moved to Beirut, Lebanon, where he studied medicine. He practiced in Beirut from 1950 until 1956 and then moved his practice to Amman, Jordan. There, however, he spent less and less time at his profession and more and more time in political agitation. He was expelled from Jordan in 1957 as a suspected Syrian intelligence agent. He then lived in Damascus for a time before returning to Lebanon. In 1959 Habash founded the Arab Nationalists Movement (ANM) and set himself up as a Palestinian politican. In 1965, Habash quit his medical practice to devote himself full time to politics. At that time he joined Yasir Arafat (qv) and Naif Hawatmeh (qv) in the formation of a secret Palestinian organization, al Fatah. His primary function was recruitment of Arabs for clandestine operations in Israel. After the Arab debacle in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Habash and Hawatmeh broke with Fatah, and out of the ANM and three other organizations they formed the antiroyalist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) (qv), which focused on the development of a Marxist-Leninist ideology for its members. Hawatmeh then broke with Habash in favor of a Maoist ideology. Habash travelled to North Korea and was there during the PFLP highjacking of three airliners to Jordan (6-9 September 1970) and the brief Jordanian civil war (9-27 September 1970). In August 1973, Habash was reportedly on board a Middle East airliner forced down by Israeli jets while on a flight from Beirut to Baghdad. The Israelis blamed Habash for the Athens airport attack on 29 September 1969. The PFLP was relatively inactive after Habash underwent surgery in September 1980. In more recent times, it has been reported that Habash has developed a better working relationship with Yasir Arafat and that Habash is working within the PLO.


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