A file photo shows Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) executive committe member, Hanan Ashrawi, speaking at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AFP)
In a brief statement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he has accepted on Wednesday the resignation of Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which submitted a written resignation several days ago.
Veteran Palestinian negotiator and women's rights advocate Hanan Ashrawi said on Wednesday she would quit her senior post in the Palestine Liberation Organization at the end of 2020, and called for political reforms.
Ashrawi, 74, did not give a reason for her resignation in a statement announcing the move. But she said that the PLO's Executive Committee, on which she served, had been marginalised "and from decision-making".
The 15-member committee, the most senior body of the PLO, is headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and is not often convened by the 85-year-old leader.
“Consistent with my lifelong commitment to the principles of integrity and transparency, I would like to state the following pertaining to my resignation from the PLO Executive Committee:
"The Palestinian political system needs renewal and reinvigoration with the inclusion of youth, women and additional qualified professionals," Ashrawi said.
"I believe it is time to carry out the required reform and to activate the PLO in a manner that restores its standing and role."
she added, "I met with President Mahmoud Abbas on 24 November 2020 and we had a candid and amicable discussion in which I informed him of my decision to resign from the Executive Committee, effective the end of the year.”
“As I have reaffirmed to President Mahmoud Abbas, I will continue to serve the Palestinian people and our just cause in every capacity, albeit outside public office,” she added said in her statement.
Critics accuse Abbas of allowing Palestinian political institutions under his authority in the West Bank to stagnate. There have been no presidential or parliamentary elections for the Palestinian Authority, which he heads, for more than a decade.
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, which has limited self-rule in the West Bank.
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.