Jumblatt, Kamal (1917–1977)

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JUMBLATT, KAMAL (1917–1977)

Lebanese political figure, belonging to the important Druze clan of Jumblattis, Kamal Jumblatt studied law, obtaining a degree in 1942. The next year, he was elected deputy, and in 1946 became minister of economy and agriculture. Three years later he founded the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP). After having pushed for the resignation of President Beshara al-Khuri, then broken with the new president, Camille Chamoun, Jumblatt joined the opposition. After the accession to the presidency of Fuʾad Chehad in 1958, he assumed various governmental functions: minister of national education (1958), public works and planning (1961), interior (1961, 1964). In 1964, with Rashid Karame, he played an important role in the election of Charles Hilu to the presidency of the republic.

After the Arab-Israel War of June 1967, he drew progressively closer to Palestinian organizations and formed a radical front of the left. In 1969, he was named minister of the interior, responsible mainly for the application of the Cairo accords granting the PLO operational independence in areas of Lebanon with large Palestinian refugee populations. He denounced the involvement of the army in Lebanese political life, which was growing ever greater. In the following month of August he decided to back the candidacy of Sulayman Franjiyya for the presidency. But in May 1973, following Lebanese-Palestinian confrontations, he took a position against the chief of state. At the time of the Lebanese civil war of 1975, he became the leader of the Lebanese left and one of the principal supporters of the Palestinian resistance. He became president of the political council of the Lebanese National Movement, which allied parties and organizations of the left and made common cause with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) against the right-wing Christian Lebanese Front (LF), dominated by the Phalange. The success of this alliance, particularly in the "Battle of the Mountain" against the Christian militias in March 1976, provoked Syrian intervention in June on the side of the LF. On 16 March 1977, he was assassinated in his car on the road to Moukhtara by pro-Syrian
factions of the Lebanese Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party (SSNP). Awarded the Lenin Prize in 1972, Kamal Jumblatt was the author of a number of works about Lebanon. His son, Walid, succeeded him as head of the PSP and the Lebanese National Movement.

SEE ALSO Arab-Israel War (1967);Jumblatt, Walid Kamal;Lebanese Front;Lebanese National Movement;Palestine Liberation Organization.