Born in Haifa in Aug. 1921 into a Palestinian Protestant family; studied in Haifa and Acre; worked in Haifa’s oil refinery as a construction worker, then as radio announcer in the Palestinian Broadcasting Service in Jerusalem (1941-43);
Joined the Palestinian Communist Party in 1940 and became one of its leaders, operating underground during the British Mandate in the 1940s; one of the founders of the National Liberation League (Usbat Al-Taharrur Al-Watani) in 1943 , along with Haidar Abdel Shafi, Mukhlis Amer, Emil Tuma and Mufid Nashashibi ;
Editor of Al-Mihmaz newspaper; joined the Israeli Communist Party after the 1940s and became chief editor of its paper Al-Ittihad; represented the party in the Knesset for 19 years from 1953-72 (since 1965 for Rakah which emerged from the Israeli Communist Party); edited Al-Ittihad that served as the Arabic mouthpiece for the party in the 1970s;
Began writing short stories in the 1960s; resigned from the Knesset in 1972 to write his novel, The Secret Life ofSaeed, the Pessoptimist (Arabic, 1974; English, 1982), depicting the life and fortunes of an Arab citizen of the state of Israel; proponent of Arab-Israeli coexistence; noted Palestinian-Israeli author, playwright, and journalist, who received several literary prizes, incl. the top PLO literary honor, Jerusalem Prize (1990), and the Israel Prize (1992); left Rakah in 1991 over a position the party adopted vis-à-vis Soviet leader Gorbachev;
Established the Arabesque House Publishing Company in Haifa the same year; in 1995, produced the monthly literary journal Masharif; authored several renown books, incl. Kufr Qassem - The Massacre and the Politics (Haifa, 1976), Ikhtiyyeh (1985), The Tale of Saraya, the Daughter of the Ogre (Arabic, 1991), as well as plays, such as Lakka’ ben Lakka’ (1980) and Um-Al Robabika (1992); also published a collection of his essays and articles known as Towards a World Without Cages (Arabic, 1993);
Died in Haifa on 2 May 1996 (his tombstone reads - as he had requested: “Emile Habibi - Remained in Haifa”).