Israeli and Palestinian Elections: Opportunities for Change or More of Same? 


Israeli and Palestinian Elections: Opportunities for Change or More of Same? 

featuring Dr. Hanan Ashrawi (Palestinian leader, legislator, activist, and scholar), Diana Buttu (Al Shabaka and IMEU), Orly Noy (Local Callwith Peter Beinart (FMEP non-resident fellow).

 April 6, 2021 

Last week, Israelis went to the polls for the fourth time in two years to elect a new government. In parallel, Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem are now — for the first time in nearly 15 years — preparing for presidential and legislative elections, scheduled for May and June. What are the prospects for these elections bringing about real, positive change for either people or an opening to confront Israeli apartheid, annexation, or occupation? In what ways are these elections a distraction that enable the continuation of the current status quo, which includes the increasingly illiberal nature of Israeli politics and society, and the continued authoritarian and unaccountable nature of Palestinian leadership? 

Join FMEP to discuss the recent Israeli and upcoming Palestinian elections – each on their own and how they relate to each other – with Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, longtime Palestinian leader, legislator, and recently retired from the PLO’s Executive Council; Diana Buttu, Al Shabaka fellow, IMEU podcaster, and former legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team and Palestinian president; and Orly Noy, editor at Local Call (the Hebrew sister site of +972 Magazine), together with journalist Peter Beinart, non-resident fellow at FMEP. 

Resources shared in this webinar: 

Follow our panelists: 

Resources on Palestinian elections: 

On Palestinian governance, see this FMEP webinar and resource:

On the Israeli elections and Kahanists entering the Israeli Knesset:

On Israeli politics, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the Joint List:

On Mizrahim and Israeli politics: 

On the normalization agreements: 

On the surge in settler violence against Palestinians from FMEP partner B’Tselem —>

For a thorough discussion of Hamas, see Tareq Baconi’s 2018 book, Hamas Contained: The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance, published by Stanford University Press.

Panelist Biographies

Dr. Hanan Ashrawi is a distinguished Palestinian leader, legislator, activist, and scholar who served as a member of the Leadership Committee and as an official spokesperson of the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East peace process, beginning with the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991.  Making history as the first woman to hold a seat in the highest executive body in Palestine, she was elected as member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 2009 and most recently in 2018. In 1996, Dr. Ashrawi was appointed as the Palestinian Authority Minister of Higher Education and Research. She was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council representing Jerusalem in 1996, and she was re-elected for the “Third Way” bloc ticket in 2006. As a civil society activist, she founded the Independent Commission for Human Rights (1994), MIFTAH, the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (1998) and AMAN, the National Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (1999). She serves on the advisory and international boards of several global, regional and local organizations, and she is the recipient of numerous awards from all over the world, including the distinguished French decoration, “d’Officier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur” (2016), and several academic accolades, including eleven honorary doctorates from universities in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and the Arab world. She tweets at @DrHananAshrawi.

Diana Buttu is a Canadian-Palestinian human rights attorney. In 2000, Ms Buttu moved to the occupied West Bank where she served as a legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team and later to the Palestinian president. She resigned from her post in 2005 but remains a frequent commentator on Middle East politics and human rights, with opeds and appearances in major international media outlets. Ms. Buttu is the recipient of the Stelle Solidariete Italian prize for her human rights work. She was the Eleanor Roosevelt Fellow at Harvard Law School holding an appointment with the Kennedy School and Law School at the same time. She holds law degrees from the University of Toronto, Queen’s University, Stanford University and an MBA from Kellogg Northwestern School of Business. She also holds a BA in Middle East and Islamic Studies from the University of Toronto. She tweets at @dianabuttu.

Orly Noy is a journalist, translator of Farsi literature into Hebrew, and political and Mizrahi activist. She is an editor at Local Call, member of B’Tselem’s Executive Board and an activist with the Balad political party. She tweets at @NoyOrly. 

Peter Beinart is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Foundation for Middle East Peace. He is also a Professor of Journalism and Political Science at the City University of New York, a Contributing opinion writer at the New York Times, an Editor-at-Large at Jewish Currents, and a CNN Political Commentator. He tweets at @PeterBeinart.