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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat

Top Palestinian Official Hanan Ashrawi Quits PLO

Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi. (AFP)

High-profile Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi resigned from the Palestine Liberation Organization on Wednesday, calling for the "renewal and reinvigoration" of Palestinian political leadership.

Ashrawi was widely reported to have been frustrated with the Palestinian Authority's decision last month to renew coordination with Israel.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas had stopped that coordination in response to Israeli plans to annex Jewish settlements and other areas in the occupied West Bank.

Israel later put its annexation plans on hold, in return for an agreement to normalize ties with the United Arab Emirates, announced in August.

Ashrawi, one of the Palestinian leadership's most recognizable faces, did not address coordination with Israel in a statement announcing her resignation from the PLO's executive committee.

"I believe it is time to carry out the required reform and to activate the PLO in a manner that restores its standing," she said.

"The Palestinian political system needs renewal and reinvigoration with the inclusion of youth, women, and additional qualified professional," the 74-year-old added.

While seemingly criticizing the leadership of 85-year-old Abbas, Ashrawi described her resignation discussion with him as "amicable".

Ashrawi said Abbas deferred a decision on whether to accept her resignation to the PLO’s Central Council.

She has voiced support for reconciliation talks between Abbas's Fatah party and their rivals Hamas, the group that controls the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Authority is also hoping for a renewed diplomatic voice during the incoming administration of US President-elect Joe Biden.

The PA cut ties with President Donald Trump's administration, accusing of pro-Israeli bias.

Ashrawi’s negotiating days date back to the earliest public, US-mediated talks with Israel in 1991 at the Madrid Conference, where as PLO spokeswoman she articulated the Palestinian quest for statehood to the world.

Following the signing of the Oslo Accords with Israel in 1993, Ashrawi served in the cabinet of the newly-formed Palestinian Authority.

A champion of women’s rights, Ashrawi was the first woman elected to the Executive Committee in 2009. She was re-elected to the group in 2018 and has headed its Department of Public Diplomacy and Policy.

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