Asfur, Hasan (1950–)

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ASFUR, HASAN (1950–)

Palestinian political figure. Hasan Asfur was born in 1950 at Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. He studied agriculture in Baghdad, where he earned an engineering degree. Later he went to Moscow to study Marxist philosophy. After the Arab-Israel War of 1967 ("Six-Day War"), he took refuge in Jordan, where he joined the Palestinian Communist Party. In 1979 he rejoined the ranks of the Palestinian resistance in Lebanon and became a member of al-Fatah. Forced to leave by the Israeli invasion of June 1982, he took refuge in Syria for two years. In 1984 Asfur became a member of the Palestinian leadership, headquartered in Tunis, where he was associated with the economic section of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), directed by Ahmad Qurai (Abu Ala). A few years later Asfur was part of the group responsible for negotiations with Israel and participated, alongside Mahmud Abbas, in the secret Palestinian-Israeli negotiations in Oslo, which led to the Israeli-Palestinian agreements signed on 13 September 1993, in Washington, D.C. In June 1994 he was expelled from the Central Committee of the Palestinian People's Party (PPP), after having been named as head of the department responsible for negotiations with Israel. On 1 July of that year, in the framework of the application of autonomy in Palestinian territories, Asfur left Tunis for Gaza, where he became part of Yasir Arafat's entourage. In August 1998 he was named minister without portfolio of the Palestinian Authority (PA), responsible for relations with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and in July 1999 minister for NGO Affairs. This position was eliminated in June 2002 when the cabinet was reorganized, but Asfur remained as the head of the PA Commission on NGO Affairs.

SEE ALSO Abbas, Mahmud Rida;Fatah, al-;Palestine Liberation Organization;Palestinian Authority;Qurai, Ahmad Sulayman.