Since its inception in 1977, the PLF has always aligned itself with the Palestine Liberation Organization and has received support from both the PLO and Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement. Unlike the PFLP-GC, the PLF has supported peace negotiations between Palestine and Israel. Zaidan was elected to the executive council of the PLO in 1984 and represented the Palestinian National Council in 1989 during peace negotiations with Israel. Although Zaidan is wanted Israel for his involvement in terrorist attacks against Israelis throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Israel allowed him to travel freely in the Gaza Strip throughout the 1990s because he supported the peace negotations.
Throughout the 1980s, the PLF launched attacks on both civilian and military targets in the north of Israel. The group gained notoriety with their hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985 and the murder of Leon Klinghoffer, a disabled elderly Jewish-American tourist onboard.
After the hijacking, under immense political pressure from the United States and Italy, Tunisia expelled Zaidan from the country. He fled to Baghdad and actively operated the PLF from that city until 2003.
Zaidan was sentenced to life in absentio in Italy and is also wanted in the United States for his involvement in the Achille Lauro hijacking.