Hanan Ashrawi on latest developments
Palestine, Politics, 10/15/1997
In a speech before the Arab American Forum, Hanan Ashrawi shared some of her views on the latest developments that have engulfed the Palestinians as they try to move forward in their development stage.
Ashrawi who holds the office of Minister of Higher Education has been talked about by some as presidential material and possibly a successor to President Arafat. She is loved by many as a wonderful example of the role women can play in Arab society, and her well articulated and forthright views and defense of Palestinian rights are viewed as exemplary.
Minister Ashrawi remarked on the release of the Hamas leader as a welcome event that Arafat has been fighting for. She said that it was curious that Israel would release him at the very same time it was putting maximum pressure on Arafat to take severe action against Hamas. There has been much talk about the Israeli role of trying to undermine the Palestinian authority and this event is viewed as a tactical event.
Ashrawi made clear that Hamas' role will be political and that they will be part of the democratic and pluralistic society. She said that "it is unwise and dangerous" to ask the PNA to act against its own self interest, and to weaken its leadership. She restated that Yassin, the newly released Hamas leader from Israeli prison, had made a compelling plea for national unity.
On the assassination attempt against Hamas leader Mishaal in Jordan, She did not want to comment beyond stating that Israel is "incapable of assessing the consequences of its action". She affirmed that they gave Netanyahu photo opportunities to show the depth of Palestinian commitment to peace. This was done at times when it was damaging for the Palestinian leadership to do so, yet it was done for peace and without regard to local politics.
Minister Ashrawi described the pro-Israeli lobby efforts in the US as counter productive and as having put the congress in the driver seat instead of the White House on foreign policy. She termed US Secretary of State's comments that Israeli settlements are legal as a "Freudian slip", and that the state department issued corrections immediately after the PNA contacted Washington about Albright's comments.
On the recently released report by the US State Department's classification of certain organizations as terrorist and the curious timing of the announcement, she said " I'd like to question the definition of terrorism" and I will not comment on the timing. "I know for certain that a certain country would be classified as terrorist" if we used that definition, clearly directing her remarks at Israeli present and past behavior.
About how she viewed on the imprisonment of Professor Fathi Subeh, she insisted that every effort is being made to have open access to all the evidence against him. She said that he was being held for security reasons by the PNA , yet she does not see that there is much evidence against him in terms of him being a security risk.
Lastly, commenting about the Palestinian attitude toward the Doha conference and Israeli participation and that Saudi Arabia's prince Abdullah saying that they will not attend Doha , she said that "Doha is linked to progress to peace and Israeli compliance with previously agreed upon agreements", and added that the Palestinian view is in full agreement with the general Arab view on this subject.
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