On the 24th September, Forward Thinking met with John McCarthy, British journalist, writer and broadcaster, to discuss recent developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the broader Middle East context. Discussions focused on the current political uncertainty in Israel following the unprecedented two elections that have taken place in 2019, as well as on prospects for Palestinian reconciliation.

McCarthy also shared his experiences of being held hostage as part of the Lebanon hostage crisis. McCarthy was the United Kingdom’s longest-held hostage in Lebanon, having been held for more than five years. He provided a historical overview of developments during the Lebanese civil war which help to inform an understanding of the present day dynamics in the country.

There was also conversation around the impact of the proscription of organisations on for hostage negotiations and the resolution of conflicts. The proscription of groups can create pressure for change but it also problematises negotiations and make it more difficult to engage groups with real influence and constituency in peace talks.