PARIS (AP) _ Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader whose fight for a homeland long took precedence over starting a family, became a father Monday when his wife, Soha, gave birth to a baby girl.

Zahwa was born at 7:42 p.m. at the American Hospital in the posh Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, according to a statement from Mrs. Arafat's lawyer. She weighed 5 pounds, 5 ounces.

Mother and daughter were doing fine, said attorney Patrick Tabet.

``This child will be like all others, sharing the joys and the sorrows of Palestine,'' Mrs. Arafat, 33, said after Zahwa's birth, according to the statement.

Arafat, who turns 66 on Aug. 4, was to arrive in Paris on Wednesday.

Mrs. Arafat said the child would be raised a Muslim. She converted from Roman Catholicism to Islam before her marriage.