For the second time in four months, young Palestinians from the West Bank met with their colleagues from historic Palestine to discuss Palestinian unity and identity. Also at the meeting was their colleague Alaa, the only participant who was granted a permit from the Israeli authorities to exit Gaza. Alaa explains: “I am happy to be here and meet with the rest of the group, although my heart is torn and feels strongly with my colleagues who remained in Gaza.”
The national meeting was held in Jericho to enable young Palestinians to put their heads together and discuss freedom of access and movement and its impact on the Palestinian identity. The gathering was organized under the framework of the Palestinian Youth: Together for Change, an AFSC project that facilitates discussions and debates among Palestinian youth with the goal of developing policy recommendations.
Alaa has a bachelor’s degree in economics and works as an editor for the economic newspaper “Al-Iqtisadiyeh.” She joined the project because of her strong belief that justice must prevail and that policymakers should hear the voices of young people especially those coming from Gaza.
The national meeting was held one week after the groups gathered in the town of Ramallah to lay the groundwork for advocacy work against movement and access restrictions in the West Bank. This is a serious matter for Palestinians fragmented across the territory, who face daily geographic and political barriers to participation and cohesion.
“It was extraordinary to see the group work with each other,” explains Nur Abdi, program manager for AFSC’s Palestinian program. “They feel ownership to the project, and they have shown great strides since their first meeting in Amman.”
A follow up meeting will be held in mid-March 2014 to evaluate the previous sessions and plan for the future ones. “The young delegation will launch their first campaign to advocate for their rights in summer 2014, and I am very hopeful.” Nur adds.
For more on the AFSC work in the Middle East, please contact: IKassissieh@afsc.org.