Hanan Ashrawi was born in Ramallah in 1947 and lives in Jerusalem. She comes from a Christian nationalist family with several members who joined the Fatah movement. She studied in Beirut and also went to Cheltenham Ladies’ College. She teaches English literature at Bir Zeit university.

Spokesperson for the official Palestinian delegation at the Madrid peace negotiations from 1991 to 1993, she is one of the most articulate Palestinians and is constantly sought by the international press for comments.

Having long presented the Palestinian case in a moderate pragmatic way, she has contributed to the development of the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. She is however critical of the Oslo Agreements which, she believes, concede too much to Israel. She also denounces human rights abuses by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and the autocratic tendencies of the PLO and President Arafat.

In 1994, she founded the Independent Palestinian Citizen’s Rights Commission. Elected in January 1996 as an independent candidate, she is now one of the two Christian members of the Palestinian Legislative Council for Jerusalem and has been Minister of Higher Education in Arafat’s cabinet until her resignation in August 1998. She is politically close to the late Faisal Husseini and Haïdar Abdel Shafi. Since Spring 2001, she is the League of Arab States’ spokesperson, although she has expressed her desire to remain essentially in the occuppied territories (the League is based in Cairo).