Agha, Zakariya Al- (Zakaria Agha, Zakariyya Al-Agha; 1942–)

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AGHA, ZAKARIYA AL- (Zakaria Agha, Zakariyya al-Agha; 1942–)

Palestinian political figure. Born in 1942 at Khan Yunes in the Gaza Strip, Zakariya al-Agha is a medical doctor by training. He was director of public relations at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank, then department head at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza; and he has been president of the doctors' union of Gaza since 1985. Close to the Palestinian Communist Party, al-Agha was imprisoned several times by the Israeli authorities between 1975 and 1988. In June 1989 he met with the U.S. ambassador to Israel, who was visiting Gaza. In November 1991 he was part of the Palestinian delegation to the peace conference in Madrid. During the Intifada of 1987–1993 he played an important role in providing medical assistance to the wounded.

A Palestinian from "inside" (one who remained in the territories while the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO] leadership was in Jordan, Lebanon, or Tunisia) and a Yasir Arafat loyalist, he has been a member of al-Fatah's Central Committee since 1989. In December 1993, Arafat named him al-Fatah representative for the Gaza Strip. He became head of al-Fatah high command in 1994. At the end of May 1994, when Palestinian autonomy was put into place, he joined the Palestinian Authority (PA) as minister of housing, serving until 1996, when he became head of the PLO's Refugee Affairs Department and al-Fatah representative on the PLO executive committee. Al-Agha was the head of the Fatah delegation to the Palestinian all-party talks in Cairo in December 2003, aimed at reaching a united strategy against the Israelis.

SEE ALSO Arafat, Yasir;Fatah, al-.