Sha?th, Nabil Ali Muhammad (Abu Rashid; 1938–)

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SHAʿTH, NABIL ALI MUHAMMAD (Abu Rashid; 1938–)

Palestinian politician, born in August 1938 to a wealthy commercial family of Safad, in British Mandatory Palestine. In 1948, at the time of the first Arab-Israel war, his family fled to Egypt. Shaʿth was educated in Alexandria and the United States, where he received a Ph.D. in public administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He returned to Egypt, becoming an Egyptian citizen, at the end of 1965 and headed the National Institute of Management Development in Cairo until 1969.

In 1967, after the Arab defeat in the June 1967 War, he joined the ranks of al-Fatah. In 1969, he settled in Lebanon, where he taught business administration at the American University in Beirut until 1976. In 1970 he became a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Central Committee and represented the PLO at the nonaligned nations summit at Lusaka, Zambia in September of that year. In August of 1973, Shaʿth became director of the PLO's planning office. In this capacity he took numerous trips to the Gulf States and the United States, where he met with many political and economic leaders. In 1974, he showed himself to be a formidable negotiator at the time of his discussions with UN delegates, which led to the invitation extended to Yasir Arafat to address the General Assembly of the United Nations.

In 1975 Shaʿth founded TEAM International, a large Beirut management consulting company. Three years later, he was elected to the Palestine National Council (PNC). Between 1982 and 1983 he was in the group of negotiators who were discussing a solution to the Palestinian situation in Lebanon with American authorities. In 1988 he emerged as one of the main Palestinian interlocutors in the initial proceedings that led to opening a dialogue between the United States and the PLO. In November, 1989, Shaʿth became Yasir Arafat's economic and political counselor. Between 1990 and 1993, he participated in the many negotiations that resulted in the Oslo Accords with Israel. At the beginning of May, 1994, Shaʿth was named minister of planning and the economy of the newly established Palestinian Authority (PA). That June, after a forty-five year exile, he settled in the Gaza Strip. In 1996 he was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) from Khan Yunis. He has, along with other senior PLO leaders, been credibly accused of corruption; a PLC commission demanded in 1997 that he be removed from office and prosecuted. No such action was taken. After the destructive Israeli reoccupation of 2002, Shaʿth was named to head the PA's reconstruction effort. In April 2003 he was appointed the PA's foreign minister.

SEE ALSO Arab-Israel War (1967); Arafat, Yasir; Fatah, al-; Gaza Strip; Oslo Accords; Palestinian Legislative Council; Palestine Liberation Organization; Palestine National Council; Palestinian Authority.