The many firsts of Hanan Ashrawi, one of Palestine’s most notable politicians

Ashrawi says her passion will always be contributing to Palestinian civil society
Updated 08 March 2019
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The many firsts of Hanan Ashrawi, one of Palestine’s most notable politicians

  • “Being the first is important because it breaks the impasse, creates precedents and encourages women in other fields, especially politics, to get involved,” says the Arab politician

AMMAN: Hanan Ashrawi has been the first woman in many positions in Palestine. She was the first female dean of a Palestinian university, the first spokeswoman for the Palestinian delegation at the 1991 peace conference in Madrid, one of the first elected female MPs, the first female minister of higher education, and the first elected female member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

“Being the first is important because it breaks the impasse, creates precedents and encourages women in other fields, especially politics, to get involved. Politics and other fields have traditionally been the monopoly of men,” Ashrawi, a professor of English and comparative literature at Bir Zeit University, told Arab News.

She rose to international prominence when Ted Koppel, the American anchor of ABC’s “Nightline” program, conducted a televised “town meeting” in Jerusalem in 1988 during the first Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation. 

She articulated the Palestinians’ case in a debate with Ehud Olmert, the Israeli mayor of Jerusalem at the time, who later became prime minister.

Ashrawi told Arab News that her happiest moment was when Jerusalemites elected her to the first Palestinian Legislative Council in 1996.

In 2009, she was elected to the Palestinian National Council (Palestine’s Parliament in exile), after which she became the first female member of the PLO executive committee, a post she still holds.

Ashrawi says her passion will always be contributing to Palestinian civil society, adding that gender equality should not be delayed until an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is reached. 

“It’s one struggle. We can’t fight occupation if we can’t agree on the need to stop the oppression of women,” she said.

“In order to strengthen ourselves, we need to fight for social justice, equal rights and opportunities for all citizens,” she added.

“In all my work, I’ve insisted on intervening for the rights of women. I’m committed to the weak, the excluded and the marginalized, especially women.”


Iranian FM lands in Baghdad for talks with Iraqi counterpart

Updated 17 min 55 sec ago
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Iranian FM lands in Baghdad for talks with Iraqi counterpart

  • During his his two-day visit, Zarif will also meet the Iraqi president and Iraqi prime minister
  • Discussions will mainly focus on the current crisis and its impacts on the two countries

BAGHDAD: Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif landed in Baghdad on Saturday for talks with his Iraqi counterpart, an Arab News reporter confirmed.

During his his two-day visit, Zarif will also meet the Iraqi president and Iraqi prime minister. On Sunday morning, Zarif will meet several senior politicians before he heads to Najaf to meet some clerics, sources told Arab News.

The discussions will mainly focus on the current crisis and its impacts on the two countries in addition to possible options to reinforce the attempts to start dialogues with the related sides to reach a compromise or solutions for the current standoff between Iran and US.

The Iranian official will leave Iraq on Monday.

More to follow...