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Nabil Shaath

(1938 - )

Born 1938 Safed. Became Egyptian citizen 1965. Dr. Shaath is married with four children.

Studied in Alexandria, Egypt
Ph.D. Wharton School of Economics, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Shaath returned to Cairo from the United States in 1965. In 1969, he went to Lebanon to teach at the American University in Beirut. Salaam Fayyad and Muhammad Dahlan were at also at AUB during those years. Shaath worked as an industry consultant and management trainer (heading a company called TEAM) in Algeria, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. He also taught at the American University in Beirut.

He joined PLO in 1970 and served as an adviser to Fatah from 1971. Dr. Shaath became the head of the PLO Planning Centre 1971 - 1981. He is credited as being the founder of the Democratic State approach. In 1974, Dr. Shaath accompanied Arafat in the first PLO delegation to the United Nations and headed the first Palestinian delegation to the UN. He serves as chair of Palestinian National Council political committee.

In March 1990, Shaath was appointed to Fatah-CC. Shaath was a member of the Madrid delegation and played a leading role in the Oslo process. He held a meeting with Yossi Sarid in July 1993 (the first meeting between a PLO leader and an authorized Israeli cabinet member) to agree on the Gaza-Jericho formula; Shaath wrote a Palestinian draft Declaration of Principles for the Oslo agreement. He served as the PLO's chief negotiator at the Taba talks from October 1993. Shaath is a Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member for Khan Yunis.

From 1994 until his appointment in the cabinet of Abu Mazen, Dr. Shaath has been the Palestinian Authority's Minister of Planning and International Cooperation. He is a member of the Fatah Central Committee.

Dr. Shaath is a highly educated, western-style Palestinian politician, with close ties to Arafat, Israel and the United States. He has been said to be "the real power behind (Arafat's) thrown". While Arafat has been sequestered in Ramallah for the last few years, Dr. Shaath has been free to travel and has done so on Arafat's behalf.

He is a frequent visitor to the United States' State Department, and was the secret Palestinian representative to Prince Abdullah in Riyadh in 2002 for creation of the "Saudi Plan" for peace.

Dr. Shaath is wealthy although the country that employs him is virtually bankrupt. Dr. Shaath has his own business enterprises around the Arab world, but his wealth and connections caused the Palestinian Legislative Assembly, in 1997, to publicly demand Dr. Shaath be removed from power, indicted for gross corruption, and penalized with imprisonment. In Aug. 1998, a commission found evidence of criminal corruption. Yet, Dr. Shaath remained in power and has been given another position in the newly formed Palestinian Authority.

Dr. Shaath is a savvy politician who is at home in the western political sphere, and he remains a favorite of Washington's. However, he is unpopular at home due to the perception of corruption and a lack of passion for two ideas held dear by many Palestinians: the right of return and the right of refugees in refugee camps. Dr. Shaath also has a reputation for arrogance.

In a Lateline interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Dr. Shaath perpetuated the myth that there was a massacre at the Jenin refugee camp by using terms like "…absolutely horrifying…" and making comparisons to the devastation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Moreover, the interview provides a glimpse into Dr. Shaath's seething hostility towards Ariel Sharon.

Sources:, Lateline interview with Tony Jones and Nabil Shaath,, PLO Negotiation Affairs Department