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“Meet the youth” is a new initiative by Pal-Think to enhance dialogue across political opinion

Aiming to strengthen and deepen the culture of constructive dialogue between youth, local political officials and other sectors within society, Pal-Think for Strategic Studies have initiated and launched a range of dialogue sessions to take place within the next couple of months. The “MEET THE YOUTH” initiative focuses on strengthening the Palestinian youth and their engagement in civic and political life in Gaza. The first two sessions have already taken place and here Pal-Think has hosted political officials from both Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP) on separate occasions. With the new programme Pal-Think seeks to create a safe environment where dialogue between youth and officials are fostered through mutual respect and understanding of political differences. The overall objective is to give a voice to the youth, to enable them to engage actively in politics and make them speak out about their priorities, frustrations and questions regarding political issues. Especially questions related to election, the reconstruction of Gaza and the lack of representation of the people in politics where issues brought up at both sessions.

Dr. Basem Na’im, a key Leader of the Hamas movement and former minister of Health was, at the first session joined by almost 20 young men and women who took active part in a heated debate about the livelihood of the people in Gaza. The youth representatives, who had a variety of different academic backgrounds, raised several issues and key questions related to election, intra-reconciliation, Hamas relation with regional political powers and the humanitarian crises of the Gaza people. Dr. Basem Na’im voiced his appreciation of the youth’s engagement and welcomed the initiative to engage in a closer dialogue with the youth, ‘I am also Gaza, I am just like you’. As the concluding remarks, it was clear where the youth saw the biggest challenges – compromises needs to be made in order to move forward with the reconstruction and development of a Palestinian society, but as Dr Basem Na’im made explicit, Hamas cannot come up with the answers on their own.

At the second session, Pal-Think invited Comrade Kayed al-Ghoul, member of the Central Committee of the PFLP. Central topics discussed at this session revolved around elections and the need to work together in order to reinforce the voice of the Palestinian people. Comrade Kayed al-Ghoul focused upon the historical context and the role of the Oslo agreement and Israel. Questions where asked about PLFP’s role in current politics in Gaza and also he, voiced a hope that not only the Palestinian people, but also its political parties, would come together to participate in the reconstruction and reconciliation of Gaza and the West Bank. “We need civilians to participate in politics and we need not only to discuss who is right and who is wrong, but how to best represent the voice of the people and take action . Pal-Think is exited to continue the sessions – the next session will take place already next week – as it is of most importance that the youth get included and take part in the politics of the reconstruction and development of Gaza.

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