The Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish died.
Darwish, 67, the Palestinians’ best-known artist but also a noted political polemicist, died Saturday after undergoing heart surgery in Texas.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning, saying that Darwish’s loss would “leave a great gap in our political, cultural national lives.”
Darwish was born near Haifa and fled with his family during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. He became a dominant figure in Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization, penning poems in praise of the Palestinians’ “liberation struggle.”
His poetry was suffused with repudiation of Israel sovereignty over the Palestinians, both in Israel and in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but also with rebuke toward his fellow Palestinians for not staking their claim to the land with fervor equal to the Jews. He admired Israel’s poets, but his friendships with a number of leading Israelis was ruptured for a time when in 1988, after the launch of the first intifada, he write a poem urging Israelis to leave, and to take their dead.
Though he would eventually oppose Arafat’s signing of the Oslo interim peace accord with Israel, Darwish insisted that he wanted a Palestinian state established alongside the Jewish state.
In 2000, Israel’s education minister proposed adding some of Darwish’s writings to the school curriculum but was blocked after a stormy debate that shook Ehud Barak’s coalition government.
Darwish will buried in Ramallah on Tuesday.