Afif Safieh

Afif Safieh

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Afif Safieh is a Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 diplomat. He was most recently the Palestinian ambassador to the Russian Federation.

Safieh was born in Jerusalem in 1950 to a Christian
Palestinian Christian
Palestinian Christians are Arabic-speaking Christians descended from the people of the geographical area of Palestine. Within Palestine, there are churches and believers from many Christian denominations, including Oriental Orthodoxy, Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholic , Protestant, and others...

 family. As a child, he attended school in Jerusalem's College Des Frères. In 1972, he obtained a degree in Political Science and International Relations from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. He continued his education at the Paris Institute of Political Studies in Paris, graduating in 1974.

Safieh became president of the Belgian section of the General Union of Palestinian Students from 1969 until 1971, then President of the French branch in 1974-1975.

From 1976 to 1978 he served as deputy director of the Palestine Liberation Organization
Palestine Liberation Organization
The Palestine Liberation Organization is a political and paramilitary organization which was created in 1964. It is recognized as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" by the United Nations and over 100 states with which it holds diplomatic relations, and has enjoyed...

 Observer Mission to the United Nations Office at Geneva
United Nations Office at Geneva
The United Nations Office at Geneva is the second-largest of the four major office sites of the United Nations...

. In 1978 he worked as a staff member in Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat
Mohammed Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini , popularly known as Yasser Arafat or by his kunya Abu Ammar , was a Palestinian leader and a Laureate of the Nobel Prize. He was Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization , President of the Palestinian National Authority...

's office in Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

, in charge of European Affairs and UN institutions. In 1981, he became a researcher at the Centre for European Studies in the Catholic University of Louvain, and from 1985 to 1987 was invited as visiting scholar at the Centre for International Affairs, Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

.

From 1987 until 1990, Safieh served as PLO representative to the Netherlands. During his service, he was involved in the 1988 Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

 negotiations that led to the first official and direct American-Palestinian dialogue. In 1990, he became Palestinian General Delegate to the United Kingdom. In January 1995, he was invited to join the International Board of Trustees of the Vatican
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

-sponsored Bethlehem University
Bethlehem University
Bethlehem University is the first university founded in the West Bank, Palestine. Bethlehem University traces its roots to 1893 when the De La Salle Christian Brothers opened schools in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Jaffa, Nazareth, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt....

. Nominated Palestinian General Delegate to the Holy See, he presented his letter of credentials to Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

 on November 6, 1995.

On October 27, 2005 he was appointed to head the PLO office to the United States, Washington, DC. He only served in Washington for two and a half years, having lectured students and US citizens from the west coast to the east coast about the Palestinian struggle at a wide range of universities and institutes.

In May 2008, Afif Safieh was appointed to serve as the Palestinian ambassador to the Russian Federation, he presented his letter of credentials to President Medvedev on September 18, 2008. It was reported in March 2009 that he had been dismissed from this post by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas , also known by the kunya Abu Mazen , has been the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation since 11 November 2004 and became President of the Palestinian National Authority on 15 January 2005 on the Fatah ticket.Elected to serve until 9 January 2009, he unilaterally...

, apparently because he had spoken at a rally organised by Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

 to protest against the Israeli attack on Gaza
2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict
The Gaza War, known as Operation Cast Lead in Israel and as the Gaza Massacre in the Arab world, was a three-week bombing and invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israel, and hundreds of rocket attacks on south of Israel which...

.

Afif Safieh was nominated in June 2009 as Palestinian Roving Ambassador for Special Missions, based in London.

During the Fateh sixth national conference held in Bethlehem, August 2009, Ambassador Safieh was elected to the Fateh Revolutionary Council - the parliament of the Fateh movement.

In October 2009, Safieh was invited by the Commissioner for International Relations for the Fateh movement Dr Nabil Sha'ath to be Deputy Commissioner for International Relations.

Afif Safieh is considered the most experienced and skilled Palestinian diplomat having served in the three most politically significant capitals: London, Washington, and Moscow.
He is married to Christ'l Leclercq and has two daughters: Diana and Randa.

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