Dr Ashrawi has made her comments during a speech in Sydney, where she will receive the 2003 Sydney Peace Prize tonight.

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“Islamic fundamentalists and regressive brands of Arab nationalists have ironically joined forces with Christian evangelicals, Jewish fundamentalists and ideological neoconservatives to fight their own proxy wars at the expense of moderate Palestinians and Israelis alike.”

Dr Ashrawi says the violence of the past three years in the Middle East is wiping out previous agreements between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

She says it is destroying the prospects of any future reconciliation between the leaders of the two sides.

Dr Ashrawi says the so-called war on terrorism over recent years has simply led to an unprecented killing of Palestinian civilians.

“There has been a very cynical attitude lately to this conflict. I’ve heard this openly from major politicians, saying, ‘There hasn’t been enough bloodshed.’ How do you define ‘enough bloodshed’? The more bloodshed there is, the more motivation there is for further revenge and violence. The fallacy that warring parties get exhausted and make peace as a result of exhaustion … This is not a war, this is an occupation, anyway.”

Dr Ashrawi has praised New South Wales premier Bob Carr for his decision to present her with the prize tonight.

He is doing it despite opposition from political figures such Sydney Lord Mayor Lucy Turnbull and some Jewish groups.

The Australian Union of Jewish Students held a protest prior to Dr Ashrawi’s speech, criticising the awarding of the prize to her.

The union’s New South Wales president, Simon Nothman, says she has done a lot to undermine the peace process.

“She’s done that through the support of terrorist groups such as Hamas and the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, which is a member of her faction, but also through not voting against the clause of the Palestinian covenant which cites Israel’s lack of right to exist. I think, if the prize is to be awarded to someone involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, then it would be good if someone from both sides could be awarded the prize.”

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