|Biographical detail : ||Palestinian nationalist leader
A rare Palestinian leader, physician and founder of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Gaza Haidar Abdel Shafi also helped establish Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO).
A soft-spoken but a fiercely independent politician. A man of principles who often went against the Palestinian mainstream, Dr Shafi was among the first of his people to call for the acceptance of Israel alongside a Palestinian state.
In 1991, Dr Shafi led the Jordanian-Palestinian delegation to the Madrid peace conference. Later he became the chief Palestinian negotiator in talks with Israel in Washington until 1993.
He had already become frustrated with the peace process by then and, in particular, protested Israelís continued construction of settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a contradiction of the spirit of the process.
Dr Shafi became a sharp critic of the centralisation of power in the Palestinian territories. In 2002 he helped found the Palestinian National Initiative, a civic organisation advocating national unity, democracy and clean government.
Dr Shafi founded the Gaza branch of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in 1972 to provide free medical care in Gaza. He also helped establish the PLO in the 1960s.
Dr. Haidar Abdel Shafi passed away at his home in Gaza City, of colon cancer. He studied medicine in Beirut and surgery in Dayton, Ohio, in the USA.