Yasser Arafat—President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), and leader of the Fatah movement—has died in a Paris military hospital of a mystery illness. He was 75.
Arafat has been a prominent member of Palestinian causes for decades, and has come under criticism for his history of involvement with terrorist groups and continued tacit support of groups like the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (which attack Israeli civilians periodically). The United States and Israeli governments have refused to negotiate with the PNA until Arafat’s near-dictatorial role in that government was limited, and it is unclear what effect his death will have on the Arab/Israeli peace process or on governance within the fractured PNA. Arafat did not name a successor.
The Palestinian leader was airlifted to France nearly two weeks ago after his health suddenly deteriorated, and has been treated in Paris for an illness that has not yet been definitively identified. Reports have said variously that Arafat suffered from the flu, a stomach illness, gall stones, a blood platelet disorder, and/or a brain hemorrhage.
Arafat is survived by his wife, Suha Tawil, and their daughter Zahwa.