Fahum, Khalid Al- (1923–)
FAHUM, KHALID AL- (1923–)
Palestinian political figure, born in Nazareth. In 1948, at the time of the first Israeli-Arab conflict, Khalid Fahum left Palestine to seek refuge in Syria, where between 1949 and 1955 he taught political science. In 1959 he left Damascus for Egypt, where he joined the Ministry of Culture of the new United Arab Republic, which he represented as cultural attaché in Washington until 1962. An independent member of al-Fatah, he joined the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the movement's early days, serving on the executive committee from 1964 to 1970, and as head of propaganda and planning. On 13 July 1971 he was elected chairman of the Palestine National Council (PNC). In 1972 Fahum headed a mission to Cairo to reconcile the differences between Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat and the PLO. That same year, he accompanied Yasir Arafat to the Soviet Union. In 1976, at the time of the break between Syria and the PLO, he sided with Damascus, where he was seen as Arafat's eventual successor. Criticized by most of the leadership of the PLO, he was nevertheless reelected head the PNC in 1977. His pro-Syrian stand enabled him to help negotiate the withdrawal of Palestinian guerrillas from West Beirut in 1982. The PLO's evacuation of Lebanon and the crisis that followed within the organization led to Fahum's removal from the PNC's leadership. In 1984 he joined a challenge to Arafat's leadership, which was backed by Syria. Arafat prevailed and Fahum, who also opposed the project of a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation, left the PNC to found the Palestinian National Salvation Front, with Syrian backing. The new organization's purpose was to unite the various movements that opposed Arafat's policies. Still coordinating the opposition's efforts, Fahum resumed dialogue with Arafat in 1999 and engineered Arafat's rapprochement with Syria in 2001.