Ahmad Shukeiri

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Ahmad al-Shukeiri
أحمد الشقيري
1st Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization
In office
28 May 1964 – 24 December 1967
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byYahya Hammuda
Personal details
Born(1908-01-01)1 January 1908
Tebnine, Ottoman Empire
Died26 February 1980(1980-02-26) (aged 72)
Amman, Jordan
Shukeiri (standing first left) a founding member of Istiqlal circa 1932.

Ahmad al-Shukeiri (Arabic: أحمد الشقيري, also transliterated al-Shuqayri, Shuqairi, Shuqeiri, Shukeiry; 1 January 1908 – 26 February 1980) was the first Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, serving from 1964–1967.

Early life

Shukeiri was born in Tebnine, south Lebanon then Ottoman Empire to a Turkish mother and a Palestinian father, As'ad Shukeiri (1860–1940) (who was elected to the Ottoman Parliament in 1908 and 1912[1]). Ahmad acquired the Turkish language from his mother. After studying law in the British law college in Jerusalem, he became a prominent lawyer in British-Palestine and a member of the Independence Party. In 1945 he went to Washington, D.C. to establish a Palestinian office and in 1946 joined the Arab Higher Committee.

Political career

Shukeiri was a member of the Syrian delegation to the United Nations from 1949 to 1951. He then became assistant Secretary General for the Arab League from 1950–1956, Saudi ambassador to the United Nations from 1957 to 1962. At the 1964 Arab League summit (Cairo), he was given a mandate to initiate contacts aimed at establishing a Palestinian entity.

In December 1962, representing Saudi Arabia, he told the Special Political Committee of the United Nations General Assembly that the Tacuara movement had been formed to combat Zionism and he hoped it would spread in Latin America and its principles adopted by the United Nations.[2] After receiving information about Tacuara from the Argentinian and Chilean delegations, he backed down, acknowledging that Tacuara was a fascist movement and claiming instead that it was more appropriate to compare Tacuara to Israel.[3]

Chairman of the PLO

In May 1964, he was elected the first Chairman of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) with the support of Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser.[4]

From 28 May to 2 June 1964 Shukeiri and 396 nominated representatives from Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza strip, Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait, Libya and Iraq attended a Palestinian Conference (the First Palestinian National Council in East Jerusalem). Delegates wore badges carrying a map of Palestine and inscribed "We shall return". The Times reported that following an introductory address by King Hussein of Jordan, Shukeiri told delegates that "Palestinians had experienced 16 years' misery and it was time they relied on themselves and liberated Palestine from the Israelis". The conference announced the establishment of the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian Arabs. Shukeiri and his colleagues also announced the formation of the Palestinian National Fund, and at the Second Arab Summit Conference in Alexandria in September 1964 of a military wing, the Palestine Liberation Army.

“Throw the Jews into the sea”

Prior to the Six Day War, Shukeiri, in an interview with Lebanese newspaper al-Yawm, stated "we will endeavor to assist [the Jews] and facilitate their departure by sea to their countries of origin." Regarding the fate of Israeli-born Jews, he replied: "Whoever survives will stay in Filastin, but in my opinion no one will remain alive.’[5]

These statements gained little public attention at the time, but after the war, they were used as part of the Israeli government's justification of their initiation of active hostilities, utilizing a combined paraphrase of both statements and claiming that Shukeiri declared intention to “throw Jews into the sea”.[6]

Shukeiri initially denied having made such a statement, but was widely criticized and ostracized by Palestinian and Arab leadership for having weakened the international standing of the Arab cause, with Jordanian Prime Minister Saad Jumaa later stating “that [Shukeiri] is one of the direct causes for the catastrophe [the Arab defeat in the Six-Day War]. He had the appearance and bearings to play a role perfectly suited to him in the catastrophe of the Arab world and in Arab disputes, and unfortunately he fulfilled this function with alacrity and expertise.” [7]

In his 1971 apologia, Dialogues and Secrets with Kings, Shukeiri admitted usage of the phrase and similar language, claiming it reflected the accepted official Arab outlook at the time, but was “indignant that such extremism should be fathered on him alone.” [8][9]


In the aftermath of the Six-Day War, Shukeiri resigned as PLO Chairman in December 1967, and was succeeded by Yahya Hammuda.

Later life

Between 1968 and 1979, Shukeiri wrote more than twenty books dealing with the Palestinian cause and the Arab Unity.

He died on February 26, 1980, aged 72, in Amman, Jordan.[10]

Liberation - Not Negotiation by Ahmad Shukairy, 1966


  1. ^ Palestine Facts, Personalities – Chronological Listing, 1880–1920 Archived 28 November 2005 at the Wayback Machine, PASSIA.org
  2. ^ United Nations General Assembly, Special Political Committee, 359th meeting, 30 November 1962, A/SPC/SR.359, paragraph 16.
  3. ^ United Nations General Assembly, Special Political Committee, 361st meeting, 3 December 1962, A/SPC/SR.361, paragraph 38.
  4. ^ Sharnoff, Michael (2017). Nasser's Peace: Egypt's Response to the 1967 War with Israel. London: Taylor & Francis. p. 17. ISBN 978-1412865159.
  5. ^ Shemesh, Moshe (29 October 2023). "Did Shuqayri Call for "Throwing the Jews into the Sea"?". Israel Studies. Indiana University Press. 8 (2): 72. JSTOR 30247797. Retrieved 29 October 2023. The source of the accusation against Shuqayri came from an announcement he made at a press conference in East Jerusalem on June 2, 1967, after stop- ping off in Amman on the way back from Cairo in King Hussein's plane (Hussein left for Cairo on May 30 and returned the same day). According to the Lebanese daily Al-Yawm (3 June 1967), Shuqayri was asked what would happen to the citizens of Israel if the Arabs won the war. His answer: "We will endeavor to assist [the Jews] and facilitate their departure by sea to their countries of origin." Regarding the fate of Israeli-born Jews, he replied: "Whoever survives will stay in Filastin, but in my opinion no one will remain alive."
  6. ^ Schiff, Ze’ev. "The Palestinians' Self-Inflicted Wounds". The Washington Post. Retrieved 29 October 2023. "The Palestinians have been afflicted by another tragedy -- their failure to produce any leaders endowed with a sense of >realpolitik. If this is the end for Arafat, it represents the third time the Palestinians have deposed their leader: Haj Amin el-Husseini, who led the Palestinians from one disaster to the next in the 1930s and 1940s, was replaced; so was Ahmed Shukeiri, the first chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, who gained international attention when he coined the phrase: "Throw the Jews into the sea."
  7. ^ Moshe Shemesh, "Did Shuqayri Call For ‘Throwing the Jews into the Sea?’" Israel Studies, Summer 2003, p. 70
  8. ^ "The New Middle East". The New Middle East. 1970. p. 4. Retrieved 29 October 2023. "Mr Shukairy claims that when in his days of glory he publicly advocated the liquidation of Israel and "sweeping of the Jews into the sea," he reflected the accepted official Arab outlook, an outlook that was changed only by the outcome of the war of 1967. Mr Shukairy is indignant that such extremism should be fathered on him alone ..."
  9. ^ O'Ballance, Edgar (1973). 'Arab Guerilla Power, 1967-1972. Archon Books. ISBN 9780208014368. Retrieved 29 October 2023. "Shukairy sank into obscurity, and later (in May 1971) published his apologia, which he called Dialogues and Secrets with Kings (in Beirut in Arabic). In it he defended his notorious demand 'to liquidate the state of Israel and throw the Jews into the sea' as being the accepted view then of the Arab heads of state, Arab politicians, who had since turned on him and prised him from office as had the Arab press..."
  10. ^ "Mr Ahmed Shukeiri". The Times. No. 60561. 27 February 1980. Retrieved 21 October 2023.


  • 'Arab Move To Free Palestine: "16 Years Of Misery"', From Our Correspondent, The Times, Saturday, 30 May 1964; p. 7; Issue 56025; col D.
  • Connell, Dan (2001). Rethinking Revolution: New Strategies for Democracy & Social Justice. The Red Sea Press. ISBN 1569021457
  • 'Mr Ahmed Shukeiri', Obituary, The Times, Wednesday, 27 February 1980; p. 16; Issue 60561; col H.
  • Arieh Avneri, The Claim of Dispossession: Jewish Land-Settlement and the Arabs 1878–1948 (London: Transaction Books, 2002) p. 233.[ISBN missing]
  • Encyclopaedia Palaestina, Micropaedia, 1st volume, pp. 98–100.[ISBN missing]

External links

Preceded by
Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization
Succeeded by