The Changing Palestinian Landscape: Palestinian Political and Social Expectations


Hanan Ashrawi to Brief the Palestine Center Monday April 11

Washington, D.C. (April 4, 2005) – Renowned Palestinian legislator and academic Dr. Hanan Ashrawi will brief and take questions at the Palestine Center from 1:00-2:00 on Monday, April 11, 2005. A light lunch will be provided before the briefing from 12:30-1:00 pm to those registered.

In her briefing to the Palestine Center audience and attending press, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi will address the Palestinian expectations of President George W. Bush’s upcoming meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon-in specific, what Palestinians require and what the U.S. administration should commit to. She will speak on the effect the Bush-Abbas meeting will have on the July 2005 Palestinian Legislative Council elections. She will also address the representation and effect Hamas will have in those elections, and the representation women and Christians hold at the local and national levels of Palestinian politics.

Ashrawi, a Palestinian law-maker from the Jerusalem District and former Minister of Higher Education for the Palestinian Authority, serves as Secretary General of MIFTAH, the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue & Democracy. Ashrawi gained international notoriety when she was appointed Official Spokesperson for the Palestinian delegation to the 1991 Madrid peace negotiations organized by then-President George H.W. Bush. Ashrawi is a compelling and consistently objective voice amid the complexity of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and speaks with authority on the issue of Palestinian social and political expectations from years of direct involvement in negotiations and personal experience in civil and political institution building.

About Hanan Ashrawi:

Before joining the political arena, Ashrawi was a professor of English at Birzeit University, near Ramallah, the largest Palestinian university in the West Bank. Ashrawi holds Bachelor and Master’s degrees in literature from the Department of English at the American University of Beirut. She earned her Ph.D. in Medieval and Comparative Literature from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. She returned to Palestine in 1973 to establish the Department of English at Birzeit University in the West Bank, which she chaired from 1973-78 and 1981-84. From 1986-90 she served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Birzeit. Ashrawi is editor of an anthology of Palestinian literature and author of The Modern Palestinian Short Story: An Introduction to Practical Criticism;Contemporary Palestinian Literature under Occupation; Contemporary Palestinian Poetry and Fiction; and Literary Translation: Theory & Practice. Ashrawi’s writings also include From Intifada to Independence and her 1995 autobiography, This Side of Peace: A Personal Account.

In 1974, while Birzeit University was suffering intermittent closures by the Israeli military, Ashrawi founded the Birzeit University Legal Aid Committee/Human Rights Action Project. She joined the Intifada Political Committee in 1988 during the first Palestinian uprising, and served on its Diplomatic Committee until 1993.

From 1991-1993, Ashrawi served as Official Spokesperson for the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East Peace Process and was a member of the delegation’s Leadership/Guidance Committee and Executive Committee.

After the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords, Ashrawi founded the Preparatory Committee of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights in Jerusalem in 1993. She was Commissioner General of that committee until 1995. Then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat appointed Ashrawi to the position of Cabinet Minister for Higher Education and Research in 1996. She was also elected in 1996 to the Palestinian Legislative Council from the Jerusalem District, a position she holds to this day.  In August 1998, after leaving her position as Cabinet Minister, she founded MIFTAH (Arabic acronym), the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue & Democracy. Ashrawi has served as Secretary General of that organization since that time.

Ashrawi is a member of the Independent International Commission on Kosovo and of numerous international advisory boards including the Council on Foreign Relations, the World Bank Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA), and the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD).

To attend this event and/or set up a one-on-one interview with Hanan Ashrawi before or after this briefing at the Palestine Center, contact Samar Assad at 202-338-1290. 

About the Palestine Center:

Established in 1991, the Palestine Center is an educational program of The Jerusalem Fund for Education & Community Development, which is an independent, non-profit, non-political, non-sectarian organization based in Washington, DC. The Palestine Center provides a much-needed Palestinian/Arab perspective to the political, academic, and media establishments in D.C. by hosting briefings, symposia, and annual conferences and publishing in-depth analysis on Palestine and on the relationship between the United States and the Middle East, with particular emphasis on Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Palestine Center was formerly known as the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine.

Ms. Samar Assad
Interim Executive Director and Senior Analyst
The Palestine Center
Tel. 202-338-1290
Fax 202-333-7742