Rajub, Jibril (Abu Rami)

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RAJUB, JIBRIL (Abu Rami)

Palestinian political figure, born in 1953 in Dura in the West Bank. In 1968, Jibril Rajub was arrested by the Israeli police and sentenced to life in prison for throwing a hand grenade at an Israeli army vehicle. In prison he learned Hebrew and English. In May 1985 he was released as part of a prisoner exchange and worked as a journalist for the magazine Abir. In January 1988, during the first Intifada, he was expelled to Lebanon, and from there he joined the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Tunis.

Rajub became part of the Palestinian Security Services, functioning as an advisor to Khalil al-Wazir and liaison with some Intifada leaders in the Palestinian territories; after Wazir's assassination in April 1988, he became close to Yasir Arafat. At the end of December 1993, as part of the application of the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords, he and Muhammad Dahlan went to Rome to meet with the Israeli general Amnon Shahak to coordinate Israeli and Palestinian security activities. In May 1994, as part of the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, he was named director of the Palestinian Preventive Security Force for the West Bank, which was set up by the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Rajub's position made him one of Israel's and the United States' main Palestinian interlocutors in the 1990s. He developed an independent power base in the West Bank in alliance with younger leaders of al-Fatah, including Marwan Barghuthi and Saib Erekat.

In 1997 rumors circulated about his taking control of the West Bank if Arafat's health failed, about his possible succession as head of the PLO, and even about a coup against Arafat. In late 1997 Rajub was suspended from the al-Fatah central committee for several months. He worked extensively with the Shin Bet and the CIA to prevent Palestinian attacks on Israel. In May 2001, eight months after the beginning of the al-Aqsa Intifada, he was wounded in an Israeli military attack on his home. In early 2002, Rajub fell out of favor with Arafat, who reportedly accused him of being an Israeli and American spy. In April 2002 the Israelis attacked his headquarters. Rajub escaped after turning over fifty Palestinian Islamists to the Israelis in a deal mediated by the CIA, for which he was widely condemned. In May when the Americans told Arafat he should reform his various security services with Rajub in charge, Arafat dismissed him, naming him governor of Jenin. In August 2003 Arafat named him head of his newly created National Security Council, supervising the chiefs of all Palestinian Security Services. In this post he was an effective opponent of the new prime minister, Mahmud Rida Abbas, who was appointed under American and Israeli pressure. Rajub remains committed to a two-state solution and was a member of the delegation that negotiated the Geneva Peace Initiative of 2003. Rajub is considered a possible successor to Arafat, though he would be opposed by Abbas and his ally, former interior minister Dahlan, among others. He is believed to have betrayed Barghuthi to the Israeli authorities and would not be acceptable to HAMAS, which, although opposed to the PLO, has refrained from attacking it as long as Arafat remained.


SEE ALSO Abbas, Mahmud Rida; Aqsa Intifada, al-; Arafat, Yasir; Barghuthi, Marwan; Dahlan, Muhammad; Fatah, al-; Geneva Peace Initiative of 2003; Palestinian Security Services; Shin Bet; Wazir, Khalil al-; West Bank.

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