Born 1945, Jerusalem. Married with two children
B.Sc in Nuclear Physics, University of Mainz, Germany, 1969
Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics, American University, Beirut, Lebanon, 1972
A trained nuclear physicist, Dr. Kassis taught physics in Germany, Italy, France, England, Lebanon and Jordan before joining Birzeit University in 1980. In 1984, Dr. Kassis was appointed the Vice-President for Academic Affairs at Birzeit University; a position he held until 1989.
In 1991 Dr. Kassis was a member of the Palestinian negotiation team to the Madrid Peace Conference. From 1991-1998, he attended many peace conferences as a senior member of the Palestinian negotiating teams.
From 1996-1998, Dr. Kasis co-founded and became Director of the Palestine Economic Research and Policy Institute (MAS), a nonprofit group with the mission to assist policy makers with long and short-term economic and social policy decisions, by providing them with research and analysis.
In 2000, he was appointed Minister of State (without portfolio) in charge of the Bethlehem 2000 project. In 2002, he was appointed PA Minister of Tourism by Arafat. In 2003, he was appointed PA Minister of Planning by Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.
Dr. Kassis has been an academic, a respected negotiator and government official since the 1980s. He comes to the new cabinet as an independent, and is one of the few, if not the only Christian member. Dr. Kassis is a proponent of a secular Palestinian state.
Dr. Kassis has frequently accompanied Yasser Abed Rabbo on negotiation teams, and is a likely ally of Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.
Sources: Palestine Media Center; al-bab.com; Polity.org.za; MiddleEastReference.org; Reuters 2000; IMRA.org; bitterlemons.org; Embassy of France, Daily Briefings, (Aug 21, 2002)