Haidar Abdel Shafi, a former negotiator who led the Palestinian delegation to the historic Madrid peace conference in 1991, died Tuesday at the age of 88.
Abdel Shafi died at his home in Gaza City of stomach cancer, said his son Khaled.
The lanky, charismatic Abdel Shafi was widely respected by the Palestinian public, and was one of the few figures to bridge the differences among rival political movements. After the Islamic militant Hamas won legislative elections in early 2006, then-Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's first official visit was to see Abdel Shafi.
Hundreds of mourners attended his funeral Tuesday, and Hamas, which now rules Gaza and bitterly opposes peace efforts with Israel, held a moment of silence for Abdel Shafi at a Cabinet meeting. The Hamas authority called Abdel Shafi "one of the most important symbols of the Palestinian people."