Shahid, Leila Mounib (1949–)

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SHAHID, LEILA MOUNIB (1949–)

Palestinian editor and diplomat, born in July 1949, in Beirut, to a family in exile from Acre (her father, Abbas Effendi [Abdul Baha], was one of the principal leaders of the Bahaʾi movement in Palestine). Shahid first got involved with the Palestinian issue in 1967, providing assistance to refugees in Lebanese camps. In 1970 she met the French writer Jean Genet and helped him during his journeys among the exiled Palestinians in the 1970s and 1980s about which he wrote in his book Un captif amoureux (1986; in English Prisoner of Love, 2003).

Between 1974 and 1977, following a stint as a journalist for a Lebanese weekly, Shahib studied sociology in France, where she was very active in the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS). Between 1978 and 1988, she traveled widely in Europe and the Middle East, attending numerous conferences on the Israeli-Arab conflict, where she also happened to meet Israelis who were in favor of peace with the Palestinians. Between 1980 to 1984 she worked for the Society of United Moroccan Editors, and in 1986–1988 she worked for the Institute of Palestine Studies in Beirut and continues to be an editor of its journal La Revue d'Etudes Palestiniennes, now published in Paris. A member of al-Fatah, she represented the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Ireland in 1989, and in September 1990 she was designated the PLO representative in the Netherlands. During her tenure there, she developed relations with the lay Jewish community center in Brussels, which was working for Israeli-Arab peace. In 1992, working with the Israeli Shulamit Aloni among others, she participated in the creation of the Jerusalem Link: a Joint Venture for Peace, a women's association supporting the peace process in the Middle East. After representing the PLO in Denmark, Shahid was named in June 1993 to be the head of the general delegation of the PLO in Paris, a post she still holds. She is the PLO's only woman ambassador.

SEE ALSO Bahaʾi; Fatah, al-; General Union of Palestine Students; Palestine Liberation Organization.