She is a world renowned Palestinian legislator, activist and scholar.
She is the voice of many who refuse to be silenced in the face of injustice and a member of parliament who never allows her position to be a burden to calling for political reform.
She is hailed by many as "Palestine's Spokeswoman."
Not one to give out interviews regularly, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi spoke to Stepfeed, and told us more about what it's like being a woman in politics, sharing her thoughts on political reform and the prospects of peace under Trump's administration.
She also shared insights on shaking the status quo and paving the way for young Palestinians to become active players in challenging and changing the country's current political system.
Neither Christians nor women should view themselves as minorities
When asked about her thoughts on being part of a double minority, given the fact that she is both a Christian and a female politician, Ashrawi said that neither Christians nor women should view themselves as minorities.
"Christians represent the authentic Palestinian identity because we’ve been here since the beginning. Therefore, we never view ourselves as a minority, but rather as an essential, authentic component of the Palestinian identity. As for being a woman, women are never a minority, they are essential, active citizens."
Ashrawi notes however that women face more obstacles, discrimination and exclusion when compared to men, especially when it comes to politics.
"When I look at the current political system as a whole, not only in Palestine but across the Arab world and even globally, I notice that the political arena is the last bastion of male domination and men become very possessive and defensive about it," she says.
Ashrawi, a well known advocate for women's rights, has always spoken out about the importance of challenging the traditional role of women across the Arab world.
"We have to collectively challenge the current patriarchal control of the system, and the tools of control they use to exclude women, which include social norms, tradition and even religion," she adds.
"Oslo was not a peace agreement"
Moving on to discuss politics, Ashrawi speaks of her opinion on "the declaration of principles," also known as the 1993-1994 Oslo accords, saying:
"I think the people who have really suffered most as a result of this very flawed agreement are the Palestinian people. Their rights, freedom, land, political system, and even their future were all jeopardized by it."
Ashrawi also goes on to explain that one of the most important reasons why the agreement is flawed is because it postponed core issues including that of refugees, without offering any future assurances or guarantees.
"The DOP cannot be called a peace agreement, but rather a declaration of principles and a technical, peripheral agreement on side issues that had nothing to do with sovereignty and the land," she explains.
A two state solution is possible but not probable
When asked if she thinks a two-state solution is still viable today, she explained that it has become extremely difficult to implement.
This is mainly "because Israel is busy creating settlements right on [the] ground in order to prevent the emergence of the two state solution and in order to extend its sovereignty and control over all of historical Palestine," she says, adding that "unless there is seriousness of intent and real engagement and intervention to curb Israeli violations and put an end to its expansion, I don’t see how we could rescue the two state solution."
Ashrawi acknowledges the fact that amid the failure of a two state solution, many continue to question the right of return.
While other solutions could be negotiable, she sees that this right in specific is not.
"The right of return is a right that you do not negotiate. People should not be brought to negotiate international law. What you do is you have to get an acceptance, an admission of the right and its applicability and then you discuss modalities and means of implementation," she explains.
"Our political system is weakened by lack of youth representation"
Amid ongoing internal conflict in Palestine, Ashrawi sees a bright light in promising, active, intelligent and savvy Palestinian youth, but also expresses her concern over the fact that they have been excluded from the decision making process.
To her, the need to support them in challenging the current political system is crucial and can only be achieved through democratic elections.
"We need elections, we need the youth to not just mobilize but to also engage and organize on the ground, to enter elections, to challenge traditional political leadership which has hogged power for so long without holding a genuine elections," she says, adding that this can only happen when people are encouraged to become part of a democratic system.
Ashrawi commends youth, women and civil organizations who are all working towards change, calling on people to join in the efforts to shake up the current status quo.
"We need to widen the parameters and lift the restrictions, by encouraging people to create their own political parties, if they do not want to join existing ones. We should support them in creating spaces to express their opinions, their vision and their creativity," she adds.
It's time for elections that make room for the younger generation
When asked why the world hasn't seen Hanan Ashrawi as a head of state, the articulate activist explained that at this point it is no longer one of her goals to run for presidency, nor any other post for that matter.
"I believe that I belong to a generation that should make room for the younger generation," she says. "After years of holding posts in every prominent union, committee and platform in the country, I am now adamant on campaigning for young candidates and people who will make a change."
On who she would campaign for and who she thinks would be most eligible to run for President, Ashrawi remains undecided.
She explains that this is because "under the current political system which is based on factionalism, each faction's adamance on clinging to control" means that many eligible voices have yet to be heard.
When it comes to the Presidency, Ashrawi also says that "it's not a matter of finding the right individual."
To her, the view of "one person as a savior" is far from what is needed today, and that is a body of eligible people and an open, free and fair competition that enables the public to choose whomever they believe is fit to represent them.
When asked on her thoughts on Marwan Bargouthi as a possible Presidential candidate, Ashrawi said that he has all it takes, from credibility, to grassroots support and leadership qualities, but also notes that his imprisonment remains a major obstacle that must be overcome.
How we challenge Israel's version of reality
Ashrawi has always been outspoken when it comes to "Israel's version of reality that often de-humanizes Palestinians in the eyes of the world."
She believes that today a more authentic version of that reality has a chance to prevail through social media and successful initiatives including the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS), which she says is "a productive, peaceful and successful instrument of accountability and resistance."
When asked about attempts at criminalizing the BDS in Israel, Europe and the U.S., Ashrawi says:
"These attempts reveal the real issue which is that: Israeli impunity has prevailed, Israel can act without any accountability and that’s why there is this concerted effort to silence people and to criminalize BDS."
Regardless of these efforts, Ashrawi believes that volunteers, organizations and people around the world who are focused on peacefully disseminating the authentic version of reality, will succeed.
Her words encourage them to find connections and links with the rest of the world, and also urge them to reveal the humanity of Palestinians "by focusing on the integrity and legality of their cause."
"This is the way through which we show the world how Israel is not just violating international law but is also violating the most basic requirements of civil behavior and global peace," she adds.
No hope under Trump's administration
Speaking of Donald Trump's recent visit to the region, Ashrawi notes that while the U.S. President is unpredictable, people must "take him in context."
"First of all, he’s not an ideologue, he’s a businessman. Making peace agreements is not a business agreement, it’s quite different," she says.
Ashrawi also states that Trump cannot be seen as a neutral bystander or an even handed peacemaker when it comes to the Israel-Palestine conflict. This is because his administration includes people "who are zionists, and who support the settler movement."
And while she notes that Trump is "not beholden to AIPAC or the Israeli lobby," she warns that this is no reason to hope for better days under his administration.
"The power of the lobby within the U.S. and the Israeli control of the agenda and the public domain are not going to work in our favor," she explains.
"Given the fact that this administration has been elected on the basis of a very misogynist, Islamophobic, xenophobic agenda, not a peace and human rights and peace agenda, it’s very hard to see how it can reconcile with the essence of the Palestinian cause."
"Badly in need of reform, revitalization, reactivation, modernization and democratization"
Ashrawi is a member of parliament today, but remains an outspoken critic of authority and a voice calling for reform.
To her, many of the decisions made in recent years, do not reflect the opinions of Palestinians. This includes the decision Palestinian officials made in 2016, to attend the funeral of Shimon Perez.
In a heavily attacked Op-ed she wrote for the New York Times, Ashrawi explained that this is something she would never have done because in her opinion, even though "Perez was represented in the mainstream media as a savior of peace, to the Palestinians, he certainly was not."
While Ashrawi did not speak about individuals when asked about her evaluation of President Mahmoud Abbas and the team of people around him, she did say that the current political system in its entirety "is badly in need of reform, revitalization, reactivation, modernization and democratization."
She also went on to share a message with people who are fed up with the actions of the current official authority and those who feel that it doesn’t represent their plight, saying:
"My message is to first of all organize, second to work for reform and elections within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), focusing on bringing it up to par, strengthening it as an organization and allowing it to become a platform that can represent the younger generations. Unity and action will help the the organization become a representing body that can help our youth in shaking the current political program and agenda for the future."
Ashrawi's message to Palestinians
Towards the end of the interview we asked Ahsrawi what her message to Palestinians all over the world today would be.
"We are an extremely resilient people and nation. Regardless of where we are, we are people committed to the authenticity of our culture, our history, our identity, and the future of our children. The one thing that Israel and all of its allies have failed to do is to eradicate our collective memory, our collective hopes. Palestinians are not ready to disappear or suffer collective amnesia and we are here. The important thing is to maintain a clear focus, to maintain our links to each other and to our history and of course to be part of shaping our future. I know this is a grand generalization, but we are able and we can produce the mechanisms, the means and the instruments to get us there. Maybe in many ways we have been burdened by history by this identity but it is also a privilege to be a Palestinian," she said.