Palestinian legislative council elections are taking place on the 22nd May this year, for the first time since 2006. This precedes the Presidential elections in July. Yet it will not be Palestine’s first democratic experiment. Long before the advent of the Arab uprisings, Palestine held free and fair elections to choose a president and a parliament. In hindsight, these elections, held in 2005 and 2006 respectively, marked the high point of Palestinian democracy. But the project for Palestinian statehood stalled badly as the result of conflict between the 2 ruling factions of the Palestinian territories, the Islamist Hamas and the secular Fatah. A civil war between the 2 resulted in the Hamas takeover of Gaza, while Fatah retains control of the Palestinian National Authority.
The UK and the international community play an important role in ensuring these elections go ahead freely and fairly. The election may also have a significant impact on Israel-Palestine negotiations towards Palestinian statehood, and on the involvement of western powers in Palestine and Israel.
Hugh Lovatt, policy fellow with the Middle East and North Africa Programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations, speaks to CMEC Director Charlotte Leslie in this latest podcast on the elections, and their significance both for Palestinians as well as the entire Middle East region.
More about Hugh:
Since joining ECFR, Lovatt has focused extensively on EU policy towards the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP), domestic Palestinian politics, and Israeli regional policy. Lovatt co-led a 2016 track-II initiative to draft an updated set of final status parameters, and has worked to advance the concept of EU Differentiation, which was enshrined in UN Security Council Resolution 2334. Lovatt also co-developed an innovative online project mapping Palestinian politics.
His most recent publications include Rethinking Oslo: How Europe can promote peace in Israel-Palestine (July 2017) and Gaza’s fragile calm: The search for lasting stability (November 2018). He is regularly interviewed or quoted in international media, including by AFP, Reuters, Newsweek, France24, and Al Jazeera.
Prior to this, Lovatt worked as a researcher for International Crisis Group and as a Schuman Fellow in the European Parliament focusing on Middle-East policy. He also worked for Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations as an Arabic translator.
Lovatt studied Arabic at the Institute for Arab and Islamic Studies at Exeter University as well as at the Institut Français du Proche-Orient (IFPO) in Damascus. He then went on to earn an MA in Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the London School of Oriental and African Studies, where he majored in Anthropology. Lovatt is Chairman of the Brussels-based European Middle East Project (EuMEP).