Palästina: Hanan Ashrawi

I do not look at people on the basis of their religion. I believe in the separation between religion and the state.

— Hanan Ashrawi

Hanan Ashrawi was born in 1946 in Nablus in an Anglican Christian family; her father had settled the family in Ramallah after the 1948 war. She completed her BA in English Literature at the American University in Beirut (AUB) and her PhD in Medieval Literature at the University of Virginia in 1971. From 1974-1995 she was a Professor of English Literature at Birzeit University (BZU), where she established BZU’s legal aid committee and became Dean of the Faculty of Arts (1986-1990). Hanan Ashrawi is a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a human rights activist.

Hanan Ashrawi has played an efficient role in representing the Palestinians in the peace negotiations from the late 1980s onwards, when the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) members were debarred from the talks. She was part of the advisory council and spokeswoman for the Palestinian delegation at the Madrid peace talks in 1991, though she voiced reservations about some of the Palestinian leadership’s standpoints. Hanan wanted to resign from the participating Palestinian delegation during the Oslo Accords in 1993, but she was urged to continue the talks with the Palestinian negotiating team. However, her discontent with the negotiations finally made her withdraw from the team at the end of 1993. She formed the Miftah movement, a pro-democracy NGO, of which she remains the Secretary General. Between 1996 and 1998, Hanan Ashrawi was the Palestinian Authority Minister for Higher Education, before leaving to vote against the Palestinian Authority Cabinet (PAC) in 1998, despite being offered the tourism portfolio. Appointed as spokeswomen of the Arab League in 2001, with special emphasis on the Palestinian issues, she was a signatory to the 2002 statement in al-Quds, that appealed for an end to the suicide bombings. Hanan Ashrawi lives with her family – she was married to a photographer in 1975 and has two daughters and one grandchild – in her home opposite the "Muqaata" (the Presidential Residence) compound in Ramallah. She is the author of several poems, short stories, articles and books on Palestinian culture and politics and became a symbol of Palestinian national identity after appearing on American ABC-TV's Night Line in 1988. Thanks to her political savvy and eloquence that debunked the "negative stereotypes of Palestinians", Hanan Ashrawi became a familiar face in the international media.

Miftah Palestinian Liberation Committee (MPLC) Women for Peace and Justice in Palestine (WPJP) National Reform Committee (NRC)