Yasser Arafat (August 24th, 1929 – November 11th, 2004) was a Palestinian militant and politician. As Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian National Authority, Arafat continuously fought against Israeli forces in the name of Palestinian self-determination. Arafat spent much of his life leading the secular Fatah organization/political party, which he founded between 1958–1960. Originally opposed to Israel's existence, he modified his position in 1988 when he accepted UN Security Council Resolution 242.
Arafat was constantly surrounded by controversy, as in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Fatah faced off with Jordan in a civil war. Forced out of Jordan and into Lebanon, Arafat and Fatah were the targets of Israel's 1978 and 1982 invasions of that country. Arafat was said to be a key planner of the Black September organization's murder of eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics. The majority of the Palestinian people – regardless of political ideology or faction – viewed him as a heroic freedom fighter and martyr who symbolized the national aspirations of his people. However, many Israelis have described him as an unrepentant terrorist.
Later in his career, Arafat engaged in a series of negotiations with the government of Israel to end the decades-long conflict between that country and the PLO. These included the Madrid Conference of 1991, the 1993 Oslo Accords and the 2000 Camp David Summit. His political rivals, including Islamists and several PLO leftists, often denounced him for being corrupt or too submissive in his concessions to the Israeli government. In 1994, Arafat received the Nobel Peace Prize, together with Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, for the negotiations at Oslo. During this time, Hamas and other militant organizations rose to power and shook the foundation of authority claimed by Fatah and Arafat.
In late 2004, after effectively being confined within his Ramallah compound for over two years by the Israeli Defense Forces, Arafat became ill and fell into a coma. While the exact cause of death remains unknown, doctors spoke of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura and cirrhosis. Rumors circulated – and continue to – that he had been poisoned or succumbed to HIV/AIDS. Arafat died on November 11 at the age of 75.