IN MEMORIAM: Bassam Shakaa (1930–2019)

by Josefina Vasquez

IN MEMORIAM: Bassam Shakaa (1930–2019) among Palestine’s greatest revolutionaries passed away in Nablus on Monday, July 22, 2019, at the age of 89. He lived as a true internationalist supporting the global class struggle together with advocating for pan-Arabism. Bassam Shakaa’s life remained intertwined with his number one penchant of championing the liberation for a free Palestine.

He was Mayor of Nablus from 1976–1982, and became known by the USA because of his strong criticisms against the Camp David Accords, which in his eyes tremendously weakened the political position of the Palestinians. This was followed by an Expulsion Order in 1979, by the Zionist occupation. This move catapulted a response of large scale demonstrations In Nablus and other areas of the West Bank coupled with the collective resignation of all West Bank mayors, forcing the occupation to withdraw its Order.

Then on June 2, 1980, terrorist members of the “Jewish Underground “ planted a bomb in Shakaa’s car, resulting in the amputation of both of his legs and Karim Khalaf, Mayor of Ramallah, who was accompanying Bassam, lost one leg.

Bassam Shakaa’s revolutionary example became a catalyst for the first intifada in 1987, which lasted six years. Many Palestinians agree that the first intifada is their most powerful historical movement in modern times.

Following the formation of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1994, Shakaa disputed the PA’s duplicity with the occupation and their submissiveness in never questioning the validity of the occupation. In 1999, Bassam Shakaa signed among 20 known Palestinians “The 20 Declaration” referrered to as the “Cry from the Homeland” — denouncing the PA. As a result, he was placed under arrest by the PA.

In September, 2011, Bassam Shakaa made his political vision clear with the signing of the petition with other respected Palestinians criticizing the PA’s recognition of the 1967 borders. Ultimately, Bassam Shakaa proved himself to be an undaunted reliable leader with a staunch commitment to his principles and to the liberation of the Palestinian people.