Why Mikhail-Ashrawi Left Arafat's Government

  • Share
  • Read Later
It was one thing to boo and hiss, as many legislators did, when Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat acceded to demands by reform-minded members of the Legislative Council and presented a so-called new Cabinet last week. But Minister Hanan Mikhail-Ashrawi, prominent spokeswoman for the Palestinian cause, made her protest sting by loudly quitting the Cabinet. Disgusted at Arafat’s failure to remove three of her colleagues accused of corruption last year, Mikhail-Ashrawi, a former literature professor, was also offended that Arafat did not consult her before switching her from the Ministry of Higher Education to the Tourism portfolio. By quitting, Mikhail-Ashrawi has become a hero to a public fed up with the malfeasance rampant in Arafat’s administration. Her office and home have been deluged with phone calls from well wishers. “They say, ‘You’re the only man in the Cabinet,’” reports Mikhail-Ashrawi, who was in fact one of only two women. A source close to Arafat confirms that Mikhail-Ashrawi’s move was a blow to the Chairman. “She hurt him,” says the source. “Hanan is well known in the world; she’s not a nonsense person. So her resignation is taken seriously.”