Part 5: Palestinian youth revolt – Any role for political parties?
The youth movement underway in Palestine raises several questions regarding its motives, causes, and nature. Is it an expression of despair and frustration or a rekindled national spirit? Is it triggered by Palestinian division, the tattered state of the PA, the demise of the Oslo process and the two-state solution, aggressive Israeli settlement expansion, the desecration of holy places, or declining Arab interest in and international neglect of the Palestinian cause? Will it evolve into a popular uprising like the first intifada or will it remain an expression of anger that will soon recede? What conditions need to be met in order for this movement to evolve into an uprising guided by a unified national leadership and national program? What role should the PLO factions and the wider Palestinian leadership play to strengthen and protect the uprising and develop a unified national leadership, given the institutionalization of the Palestinian division? And how?
This unprecedented youth movement, which is led by Palestinians born around the time of the signing of the Oslo Accords, is directed against the occupation. Yet it also includes anger and protest against the PA and its political performance, which is responsible for the current state of the Palestinian cause in general and the conditions in the OPT in particular. This is the paradox we face: How can the Palestinian factions, within and outside the PLO, which helped to create the current state of affairs contribute to developing the movement and creating a unified leadership? In fact, the factions can neither be excluded nor exempted from responsibility, especially given the lack of an alternative national movement or a popular, non-factional bloc (a historical bloc in Gramsci's sense) capable of formulating an overarching national body inclusive of all Palestinians.