Hanan Ashrawi Explains Why She’s Resigning From the PLO

Hanan Ashwari is internationally recognized as a key voice for the Palestinian people and has won numerous peace prizes – yet has chosen this moment to resign from the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee. Why now? She joins the show to explain.

Read Transcript EXPAND

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Why did you decide to resign when peace is not yet achieved?

HANAN ASHRAWI, PALESTINIAN LAWMAKER: No, it’s not a question of peace. It’s a question of reform. It’s a question of democratization. It’s a question of good governance and respect for our political institutions and representatives like these. I believe we have been asking for this for a long time. We have been asking for elections in order to get new and young people into the political system. We have been asking for structural reform. And, of course, we’re respecting the mandate of the Executive Committee, which is supposed to be the highest political party in Palestine, representing Palestinians all over the world, not just in the occupied territories. So, in a sense, I felt, unless I take a clear position, and unless I say I will not be part of this anymore, that things will coast along the way they have been. And I believe this is one way in which we can trigger reform, in which we can bring young men and women in particular into the system, and perhaps we can start the process of elections. And, of course, I believe that I have to practice what I preach. So, I have been asking for these things. And I’m going to implement my beliefs. And I think that, even though I will be out of the Executive Committee and the PLO, I will still be working for the cause of Palestine.

AMANPOUR: So, you talked about elections. And, of course, the whole world is watched how these elections haven’t happened. They were meant to happen, I don’t know, a year or more ago, and they just haven’t happened. And there are a lot of critics of President Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership. They say he lacks vision, that it’s become sclerotic, that it’s tending to more authoritarian or autocratic kind of behavior. And in your resignation letter, you said, “Renewal and reinvigoration, with the inclusion of youth, women and additional qualified professionals” is really, really important for the Palestinian system. You have spoken a little bit about it, and I know you want younger people, more women in. You want elections. What is stopping it? Why is it that the elected body, the Palestinian Authority, has just not followed its own constitution and its own democratic process?

ASHRAWI: Well, it’s easy to say we’re under occupation. It’s easy to say there are many impediments. Israel controls everything. Yes, this is what’s happening. It’s very difficult to have elections. But at the same time, we do have a rift, and we should heal the rift, and we should end the division in Palestine between Gaza and the West Bank, between Fatah and Hamas. We should have an inclusive democratic system. So, all these things have been an impediment, and now with the coronavirus and other things. But I think the most important, the most crucial factor is the political will, the question of just deciding to move ahead.

About This Episode EXPAND

Russian opposition leade Alexey Navalny tells Christiane about the poison plot that nearly killed him. Veteran Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi explains why she’s resigning from the Palestine Liberation Organization. Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, joins Walter Isaacson to reflect on an unforgettable year.