RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization, announced her resignation on Wednesday, saying the Palestinian political system needs “renewal and reinvigoration.”
Ashrawi, a member of the PLO’s decision-making executive committee, said she had informed President Mahmoud Abbas last month of her intention to leave at the end of the year. But after word of her resignation leaked out, she said Wednesday was stepping down immediately.
Abbas’ office said it had accepted her resignation.
Ashrawi, who holds a doctorate in comparative literature from the University of Virginia, is a fluent English speaker who has been a prominent spokeswoman for the Palestinian cause in the global media for decades.
She has held several senior posts and participated in numerous rounds of peace negotiations, but has also been an outspoken critic of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and of U.S. policies that she says have supported Israeli practices and undermined Palestinian hopes of establishing an independent state on lands captured by Israel in 1967. She is also one of few women or Christians to hold a senior post in the Palestinian leadership.
In recent years, Ashrawi had become a vocal critic of the 85-year-old Abbas’ autocratic rule and reliance on a small inner circle of men in their 70s and 80s.
In a statement, Ashrawi, 74, said it was time for reforms in the PLO and to end the “marginalization and exclusion” of the executive committee from decision-making. She also called for a more diverse leadership.
“The Palestinian political system needs renewal and reinvigoration with the inclusion of youth, women, and additional qualified professionals,” she said. “It is incumbent upon us all to assume our individual responsibilities and to carry out our duties with honesty and integrity, including by facilitating this needed change.”
She said she would continue to serve the Palestinian people “in every capacity, albeit outside public office.”