Will Upcoming Elections Bring Any Change to the Palestinian People?

I wish I could say that the legislative and presidential elections announcement is due to home-grown, local, people-driven reasons, but in reality, it is far from that. I wish I could say it is due to popular demand and public pressure, or for the purpose of reforming the political system or reinventing the existing styles of governance, or even to renew the political leadership. I wish I could say it is a result of a long and complex process of democratization that elections will be “crowning“. I wish I could say it is due to the outcomes and consequences of effective accountability mechanisms, or for the purpose of reviving dysfunctional organizational structures like the ones of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). I wish I could say it is due to a serious workshop that aims to convene a comprehensive meaningful national dialogue that revisits the Palestinian political program and adopts a forward-looking strategy and concrete action plan to realise rights and freedom. None of the above-mentioned elements are reasons behind the intention to hold elections in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip later this year. The decision to hold elections is largely due to external – both international and regional – pressure and conditionality.

what is the point of an election that is perceived as both a means and an end, with no serious consideration to larger and more fundamental dimensions concerning the overall political system, strategy, and vision? It is only when the existing dominant political actors stop re-enforcing each other and are instead held accountable that a glimpse of hope for a fundamental positive change will start to emerge. And then, the elections will have a different meaning and serve a different purpose.

Published at Institut Montaigne, 3 February 2021

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