Hawatma, Nayif (Abu Al-Nuf; 1935–)

views updated

HAWATMA, NAYIF (Abu al-Nuf; 1935–)

Palestinian political figure, born in as-Salt, Jordan, to a Greek Orthodox family. In 1954, while enrolled at Cairo University's Faculty of Medicine, Hawatma joined the Nasserist Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM) of George Habash, who was a friend of his. He returned to Jordan in 1956, during the Suez War, but fled the country in 1957 after participating in anti-regime activities, for which he was sentenced to death in absentia. In 1958 he took part in factional fighting in Lebanon, then fled to Iraq, where a Hashimite king had just been overthrown, and became the head of the Iraqi branch of the ANM. Imprisoned in July 1962 in Baghdad, he was liberated in February 1963, at the time of the Baʿthist coup d'état, only to be expelled two months later to South Yemen, where he participated, with the Liberation Front, in the struggle against the British presence. In 1967, after an amnesty had been declared, he returned to Jordan. In January 1968, after the Arab defeat in the 1967 War, he participated, with George Habash and Ahmad Jibril, in the creation of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), within which, along with Ibrahim Mohsen, he represented the Marxist current. In February 1969 he quit the PFLP to found, with Yasir Abd Rabbo, the Democratic Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, known after August 1974 as the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). This new organization became part of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and followed a political line at the far left of the Palestinian spectrum.

In January 1970 his movement established its first contacts with leftist Israeli parties, including Matzpen. His intention was to begin a dialogue based on the provisions of United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 242. In June 1970 Hawatma was elected to the PLO's central committee. Advocating the abolition of the Hashimite regime, the DFLP participated, along with the PFLP, in battles with the Jordanian army in August and September 1970 and July 1971. After their expulsion from Jordan, Hawatma and his organization settled in Lebanon, where from August 1973 he espoused the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, alongside the Israeli state. Accused of capitulating to Israel, he was the object of two assassination attempts. He stayed in contact with leaders of the Israeli left and recommended an alliance with Arab Communist Parties. From 1975 on he favored a rapprochement with Syria, and in 1977, after the visit of Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat to Israel, he joined the Rejection Front. In 1978 he broke ties with Baghdad after having sided with Tehran in the Iraq-Iran conflict. Backed by the Soviet Union, he became more strident in his opposition in the PLO. In March 1984, along with George Habash, he founded the Palestinian Democratic Alliance, which united the DFLP, PFLP, Palestine Communist Party, and a part of the Palestine Liberation Front in an attempt to counter the influence of Fatah in the Palestine movements. The project failed rapidly as personality conflicts took priority over political purposes. In April 1987, after the dissolution of the Democratic Alliance, he decided that the DFLP would rejoin the PLO executive committee, as the PFLP had done. On 17 September, accompanied by Habash, he went to Jordan, where he hadn't been for twenty years; there the two men were received by King Hussein. This reconciliation, facilitated by the Gulf crisis, allowed the resumption of relations between the DFLP, the PFLP, and Jordan.

Hawatma opposed the Madrid Conference of October 1991, and the DFLP was torn between his partisans and Yasir Abd Rabbo's, who favored the peace process. Abd Rabbo and his followers broke from the DFLP to create a new organization, the Palestinian Democratic Union. On 10 September 1993 Hawatma opposed the Israeli-Palestinian accord, which was to be signed three days later, and he and Habash announced their resignation from the PLO executive committee. In October both took their organizations into opposition in the Alliance of Palestinian Forces. On 25 October 1999, after meeting with Yasir Arafat in Cairo, Hawatma announced his support for the peace process. In an interview, he declared that the struggle of the DFLP was at once "political and diplomatic." In April 2001, while the al-Aqsa Intifada was developing in the Palestinian territories, the leadership of the DFLP launched an appeal for a general mobilization of the Palestinian people and armed resistance against Israel. It took credit for a raid on an Israeli post in the Gaza Strip but in general, in contrast to its earlier years, the DFLP has not been very active. It is much reduced in size and is believed to have about 500 members. In early 2002 Palestinian Authority security began, under Israeli pressure, to round up the members of the DFLP, PFLP, and other groups, leading to public protests against Arafat, but after Israeli attacks in Jenin and Ramallah these groups called for unity among Palestinian political factions. Hawatma has published a number of books and articles on Palestine and the resistance.

SEE ALSO Abd Rabbo, Yasir;Alliance of Palestinian Forces (APF);Aqsa Intifada, al-;Arab-Israel War (1967);Arab Nationalist Movement;Arafat, Yasir;Baʿth;Black September;Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine;Habash, George;Hashim, al-;Gaza Strip;Madrid Conference;Matzpen;Palestine Communist Party;Palestine Liberation Organization;Palestinian Democratic Union;Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine;Rejection Front;Resolution 242;Sadat, Anwar al-;Suez Crisis;West Bank.

About this article

Hawatma, Nayif (Abu Al-Nuf; 1935–)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article