Afif Safieh was born in Jerusalem in 1950. He obtained his degree in Political Science and International Relations from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium in 1972. In 1974, he received his post-graduate qualification in Political Science from the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, Paris.
Mr. Safieh was President of the Belgian section of the General Union of Palestinian Students from 1969 until 1971, and then President of the French branch in 1974–1975. From 1976 to 1978, he was Deputy Director of the Palestine Liberation Organization Observer Mission to the United Nations, Geneva. From 1978 to 1981, he was a staff member in President Arafat’s office in Beirut, in charge of European Affairs and UN Institutions, after which he was a researcher at the Centre for European Studies in the Catholic University of Louvain (1981–1985); a visiting scholar at the Center for International Affairs, Harvard University (1985–1987); and PLO representative to the Netherlands (1987–1990), during which time he was involved in the Stockholm negotiations of 1988 that led to the official and direct American–Palestinian dialogue.
Mr. Safieh was appointed Palestinian General Delegate to the United Kingdom in September 1990. In January 1995 was invited to become a member of the International Board of Trustees of Bethlehem University, the Vatican-sponsored University in Palestine, and was appointed as Palestinian General Delegate to the Holy See, presenting his letter of credentials to His Holiness Pope John Paul II on November 6, 1995.
In October 2005, he was appointed Head of the PLO Mission in Washington, and from 2008 to 2009 he was Palestinian Ambassador to the Russian Federation. He has also held positions including: Roving Ambassador for Special Missions based in London (June 2009); Fateh member of the Revolutionary Council, in the Parliament of the Fateh Movement (August 2009); and Deputy Commissioner for International Relations of the Fateh Movement (October 2009).
Compilations of his articles have appeared in two volumes: Self Determination (1986, jointly with his wife Christ’l Leclercq), and The Peace Process: From Breakthrough to Breakdown (Saqi, 2010).