Hanna Musa Nasir

(1935- )

Born in Jaffa,
Palestine, in 1935, he studied physics at the American University in Beirut and received a PhD in nuclear physics from Purdue University in the USA in 1967.

Hanna Nasir helped in the development of Birzeit (Junior) College to become a University in 1972. It thus became the first Arab University to be established in Palestine and Nasir was its first President. He was deported by the Israeli occupation authorities to Lebanon in November 1974 and remained in exile for almost 19 years, residing mostly in Amman,
Jordan, until he – and thousands of other Palestinians in exile were allowed in 1993 to return to Palestine in the wake of the peace negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. While in exile Nasir remained to serve as the President of the University. In 2004 he retired and is presently the Chairman of its Board of Trustees.

Between 1981 and 1984 Nasir served on the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and held the position of Head of the Palestine National Fund between 1982 and 1984.

In 2002 he was appointed by Yasser Arafat as the Chairman of the Central Elections Commission which was responsible for two major elections in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. He remains its chairman up till the present time.

In the year 2000, he was elected as one of the Vice Presidents of the International Association of Universities that is affiliated with UNESCO in Paris. He continued to serve until 2004

Nasir received the French Legion of Honour in 1995 and an honorary Doctorate from the American University in Cairo in 2001

Nasir comes from a Palestinian Christian family in Birzeit well known for its involvement in culture and education. He is a cousin of the late Kamal Nasir – a poet and a political leader who was assassinated in
Beirut by an Israeli hit team in the year 1973.

He is married to Tania Tamari and has three sons and a daughter and currently resides in Birzeit.