PROFILING THE PALESTINIAN MAYORS

Karim Khalaf Known for suave attire and flamboyant speaking style, Mr. Khalaf was a leader on the National Guidance Committee until he lost a foot in a recent car-bomb attack. Mr. Khalaf, a Greek Orthodox Christian from a rich, influential Ramallah family, left law for the mayoralty of Ramallah in 1972 when elected as a PLO supporter.

Denies Israeli charges he is a leftist linked to PLO "rejectionists" and says he accepts Israel's 1967 borders and would try to persuade Yasser Arafat to do the same if Israel offered Palestinians a state. His political future in limbo due to expected lenghty convalescence with family in United States. Rashad Shawa

Tall, imposing, impeccably dressed, from a leading Gaza landowning and merchant family, he remains the dominant political figure in the Gaza Strip. Appointed mayor of Gaza by the Israeli military government in 1972, he three times escaped assassination attempts by PLO radicals several years ago. Close to King Hussein, he now maintains good relations with the Arafat wing of the PLO.

A moderate, he was willing to try to persuade Mr. Arafat to OK an autonomy plan for Palestinians, but only if it clearly pointed to Palestinian self-determination. Openly hostile to guidance committee, which he considers too leftist. Has become disillusioned by Israeli claims to sovereignty on West Bank and Gaza and opposes any proposal to seek separate solution for Gaza. Muhammad Milhem

Though expelled by Israelis for "incitement," the mayor of Halhul was considered by many West Bankers and foreign diplomats to have outstanding qualities for national leadership. A high school English teacher for 20 years, he turned down admission to the University of California at Berkeley while working for a US oil company in Kuwait in 1952.

Elected mayor in 1976. A member of a large, traditional family, his sandy-haired, blue-eyed Western appearance, fluent English, and thoughtful manner led to good contacts with foreign diplomats and Israeli peace groups. Though considered a pro-PLO hard-liner by Israelis, he played a bridging role between West Bank radicals and moderates while on the guidance committee. Openly endorses two-state solution with mutual recognition. Bassam Shaka

"I have lost my legs but not my struggle," asserted Bassam Shaka, a leading activist in the Palestine Liberation Organization and the mayor of Nablus, grinning as he recuperated from a car-bomb attack. He is only high-school-educated, but tough, clever, and straightforward.

Member of a wealthy Nablus family, he fled to exile in Syria in the 1950s because Jordan disliked his pan-Arab activities. Became a leading figure among hard-line opponents to Camp David accords and foremost mayor on National Guidance Committee. Supports an independent Palestinian state in West Bank and Gaza. A bete noir to Israelis, who accuse him of fomenting agitation. Was saved from deportation last year by international pressure in a case that electrified West Bank. May become an important national figure, if he recovers, because of his now unassailable martyr status. Elias Freij

A portly Greek Catholic businessman and shrewd pragmatist from a wealthy Bethlehem family, Mr. Freij was elected mayor of Bethlehem in 1972 on a nonPLO slate. A photo of Mr. Freij shaking hands with the late Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago adorns his private office. He has numerous foreign diplomatic and press contacts and has traveled widely in US raising funds for Bethlehem development.

He was pro-Jordanian in the past, but since rapprochement of King Hussein and Yasser Arafat he is publicly pro-PLO and met with Mr. Arafat. He is conciliatory to Israel and accepts two-state solution and Palestinian links with Jordan. But recent Israeli hard-line policies, especially in his town, have soured him on peace prospects. Fahd Kawasmeh

An agricultural engineer from a large, wealthy Hebron family, he worked for the Israeli military government as agricultural director from 1971 to 1976. In 1976 he was elected Hebron's mayor on a nationalist, pro-PLO ticket. Moderate, pragmatic, close to Jordan and Arafat-led mainstream Al-Fatah wing of PLO.

A good administrator and fund-raiser, the Mr. Kawasmeh was considered moderate by the military government, though he was on the guidance committee. But he was castigated by nearby Jewish settlers in Kiryat Arba, who demanded and got his expulsion after six Jews were killed in Hebron in May. Had frequent meetings with Jewish peace groups in his home and called for two-state solution to Palestinian problem. Pro-Jordanians

Hikmat al-Masri

Tall, erect, and impassive in demeanor, Mr. al-Masri is a somewhat faded elder statesman of the West Bank and leader of the wealthy dominant Nablus merchant clan. Held Jordanian Cabinet posts and served as speaker of Jordanian Chamber of Deputies in 1955 and 1956. Considered a leader of pro-Jordanian forces in West Bank, he also maintains good relations with Yasser Arafat and the more conservative PLO wing and also with Egypt.

Publicly supports PLO as representative of Palestinians. Believes any future Palestinian state would be linked in some way with Jordan. Opposes Bassam Shaka as too leftist, though they are related by marriage and he helped put Mr. Shaka in power. Zafir al-Masri

Half-brother of Hikmat al-Masri and political heir, though less forceful. Deputy mayor of Nablus and head of chamber of commerce, Mr. Masri is a technocrat with a business administration degree from Beirut. Moderate, articulate in English, he and his brother maintain good contacts with Western diplomats. Anwar al-Khatib

Now a senior citizen, but still the preeminent spokesman for King Hussein. Has a major role in channeling funds from Jordan to West Bank. A lawyer, he has refused to practice under Israeli rule since 1967.

Served in two Jordanian Cabinets and several parliaments and was governor of Jerusalem in 1967. A staunch supporter of the monarchy, he was initially hostile to the PLO but now supports it openly. He recognizes the permanence of Israel and assumes any future Palestinian state would be associated with Jordan.

Anwar Nusseibeh

An elegant Cambridge, England-educated patrician from a leading Jerusalem family, his modulated English and careful reasoning lead his name to be mentioned as a prospective Palestinian foreign minister. A lawyer and an Arab nationalist since the British mandate days, he held Jordanian and Cabinet and ambassadorial posts and was considered a leading pro-Jordanian.

In recent years he has publicly supported the PLO and calls for a Palestinian state and mutual recognition between it and Israel. He has met with several Israeli Labor Party leaders and appeared at public dialogues with Israelis on prospects for coexistence. Other leaders

Samiha Khalil

Her stocky, determined presence and no-nonsense, pulled-back hair reflect Im Khalil's (mother of Khalil) image as the most prominent West Bank woman leader. She is chairman of the Society for the Rehabilitation of the Family, in el-Bireh near Jerusalem, the best-known women's organization on the West Bank, which is unabashedly political and pro-PLO in its outlook. It is alleged by Israeli sources to be a funnel for PLO money.

The only woman member of the National Guidance Committee, she calls for a Palestinian state. Of her five children, all but one are forbidden by Israel to enter the West Bank because of their political activities. Ibrahim Dakak

Not a public figure, he played a key role in the establishment of the National Guidance Committee. A civil engineer based in East Jerusalem, he heads the engineer's union and is close to the Communist Party. He was an important figure in consolidating West Bank opposition to Camp David.

Thoughtful, intellectual, with an excellent command of English, he opposes American actions as unfriendly to the Palestinians and is attuned to the left wing of the PLO. He is convinced that West Bankers must formulate their own tactics in organizing local political opposition to solutions they dislike. Bashir Barghouti

A leader in the Jordanian Communist Party from Ramallah, he reputedly is No. 1 in its West Bank branch. He is a leading West Bank intellectual. A member of the guidance committee where he plays an important role. Spent eight years in Jordanian prisons for Communist Party membership. Edits a communist weekly newspaper published in east Jerusalem under relaxed Israeli press laws and has close relations with the Israeli Communist Party. Believes in a two-state solution with mutual recognition, the Jordanian Communist Party position since 1948. Dr. Haidar Abdul Shafei

A quiet man with a quizzical look under bushy eyebrows. He heads Gaza's medical society and is considered the preeminent leftist PLO man in Gaza. Was deported twice by Israel, once to Sinai and once to Lebanon, but allowed to return both times. A member of the guidance committee, he believes two states are possible but only if Israel allows all refugees to return. Has been inactive since Islamic fanatics burned down the medical society several months ago.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK