Mahmoud Abbas, commonly known as Abu Mazen, was elected president (Ra’ees) of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) on January 9th, 2005 and took office on Janaury 15th, 2005. He was born in Safad on March 26, 1935. He left as a refugee for Syria in 1948 and worked as an elementary teacher. He later gained a BA in law from Damascus University and a Ph.D. from the Oriental College in Moscow in History.

Abbas is a leading politician in Fatah. He has served as Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), since Novemeber 11th, 2004, after Yasser Arafat’s death. He served as the first Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority from March to October 2003. Before being named Prime Minister, Abbas led the PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department. His reputation is that of a moderating influence in the Palestinian Authority, with a genuine drive towards achieving peace. His name Abu Mazen is an honorific title, expressing popular esteem within Palestinian society. It means “father of Mazen”, and refers to his eldest son.

Gene Sharp is Senior Scholar at the Albert Einstein Institution and founded the Institution in 1983.

He holds a B.A. and an M.A. from Ohio State University and a D.Phil. in political theory from Oxford University. He is also Professor Emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. For nearly thirty years he held a research appointment at Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs.

He is the author of various books, including The Politics of Nonviolent Action (1973), Gandhi as a Political Strategist (1979), Social Power and Political Freedom (1980), Making Europe Unconquerable (1985), Civilian-Based Defense (1990), and From Dictatorship to Democracy (1993, 2002, and 2003). His most recent book is Waging Nonviolent Struggle: Twentieth Century Practice and Twenty-First Century Potential. His writings have been published in more than thirty languages.  For more information on nonviolence theory and research, please click: Nonviolence Theory

Dr. Hind Khoury

• Minister of State for Jerusalem Affairs since February 2005 in the ninth Palestinian Authority Cabinet.
• Presently Minister of State for Jerusalem Affairs with the Palestinian Authority.
• Program adviser at the Norwegian Representative Office to the PA with responsibilities for Human rights, donor coordination and the PA reform process.
• The Head of Event Management for the Bethlehem 2000 Authority.
• Head of the economic development unit at UNDP Jerusalem.
• Educational Background is in economics and Business
• Training in tourism development
• Board member of various civil society institutions in The Bethlehem and
Jerusalem area.
• Born 1953, a wife and mother of three young adults.
• Enjoy reading, Swimming, Yoga and cooking.

Mustafa Barghouti is a Palestinian democracy activist and was a candidate for presidency of the Palestinian National Authority in 2005.  He was born in Bait Rima, near Ramallah. Barghouti is a medical doctor and received a degree in management from Stanford University. In 1979, he founded the Union of Palestinian Medial Relief Committees, a non-governmental organization which provides health care and related services in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  He is one of the founder of the Health, Development, Information, and Policy Institute, a think-tank representing an alliance of 90 Palestinian community organizations.  In 2002, Barghouti, along with Haidar Abdul Shafi, Ibrahim Dakkah, and Edward Said, established the Palestinian National Initiative, an attempt to build a reformist, inclusive alternative to both the established Palestinian Liberation Organization and to Islamic militant groups such as Hamas.  He currently serves as the Initiative’s general secretary.