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The Struggle for Peace

Background    Key Players    Wye Agreement    Maps    Related Sites

Key players in the Israel-Palestinian conflict


Ehud Barak -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud "Brug" Barak is Israel's most highly decorated soldier, which makes him seem an unlikely leader of the left-wing Labor Party. But Barak sees himself as a moderate, and in his campaign for prime minister he has sought to balance the Labor platform by running under a new banner: One Israel.

Likud Party -- Currently holds 19 seats in the Knesset, Israel's governmental body. Likud is the mainstream conservative party in Israel, often accusing the Labor Party of giving up too much to the Palestinians in peace negotiations.

Labor Party -- Is currently the majority party in the Knesset. Labor is seen as the liberal mainstream party of Israel and has generally taken a softer approach in relations with Palestinians. Former Israeli Prime Ministers Peres and Yitzhak Rabin led this party.


Yasser Arafat -- leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Palestinian Authority president. Arafat co-founded the moderate Fatah Palestinian group in 1956, and became PLO leader in 1969. In January, he overwhelmingly won the Palestinian Authority presidency in the Palestinians' first elections. Recently, Arafat has been criticized by Israel and others for a lack of control over extremist Palestinians such as Hamas. Arafat has vowed to crack down, and repeatedly has expressed sorrow over the latest Hamas terrorist acts.
Newsmaker profile: Yasser Arafat

Palestine Liberation Organization -- the umbrella representative group of Palestinians. The PLO, which has eight factions, was established in 1964 by the Arab League to press for a Palestinian homeland. Arafat leads the largest group, the moderate Fatah. Long deemed a "terrorist organization" by Israel, the PLO recognized Israel in 1990, and in 1993, the two sides forged a peace agreement.

Palestinian Authority -- the Palestinian governing body. The ruling body of Palestinians in the occupied territories was created under the 1993 peace agreement signed by Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, which provided for the gradual withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Arafat is president of the Palestinian Authority. Its legislative body, the Palestinian Council, was elected in January in the Palestinians' first elections.

Hamas -- a grass-roots Palestinian organization that is the most significant activist group in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Hamas is known among Palestinians in those areas for humanitarian actions such as building schools, hospitals and helping the community in social and religious ways. The military wing of Hamas, Izzedine al Quassam, carries out military and terrorist operations. Hamas means "zeal" and also is an acronym for Arabic words meaning "Movement of Islamic Resistance." Hamas was founded in late 1987 at the beginning of the intifada or "uprising," the largely nonviolent Palestinian protest against the Israeli occupation under which many Palestinians were forced to live. In 1988, Hamas published a statement asserting that since Israel wanted the destruction of Islam, working against Israel was a religious duty.

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