Palestinians in Ramallah rallying for unity 311 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Drawing on the
leftover momentum of bottom-up people's revolutionary movements in Egypt
and Tunisia, Palestinian youth are preparing for their own opportunity
to be heard by their leaders.
Palestinians are organizing online
for their own January 25 movement, on March 15. Unlike in Egypt, Tunisia and other Arab countries, however, the Palestinian call to take to the streets is not for the government to step down, but rather for
it to unite.
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Already with more that 20,000 supporters on Facebook, several online groups
were calling for "all the Palestinian factions to unite" in order to
"reform the political system in Palestine, based on the interests and
aspirations of the Palestinian people."
The movement, called "End the division," claimed to be based in both the
West Bank and Gaza Strip. In its manifesto, the group called on the
governments of both Palestinian territories to respond to "the
legitimate demands of the people," defining those demands in seven
Topping its list of postulations, the thus-far-online group called
for the release of political prisoners held by both the Palestinian
Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Other demands
include ending hostile media campaigns by the two Palestinian
governments against each other, the dissolution of the PA and Hamas governments "to rebuild
a government of national unity," and the restructuring of the PLO "to
contain all the Palestinian factions."
Other demands addressed Palestinian authorities' relations and contacts
with Israel. The group's remaining demands call for an end to "all
forms of security coordination with the Zionist enemy" and a complete
freeze of peace negotiations until a Palestinian unity government is
Most of the points listed by the Facebook group directly mirrored
demands made by a group of 81 Palestinian NGOs last month, who called on
Palestinian factions to "take practical steps toward ending the
Reflecting a frustration with the lack of progress made by either of the
Palestinian governments, the manifesto posted on Facebook lamented that
"20 years of negotiations have not achieved" our demands. Yet the call
to action also noted that "the resistance," a reference Hamas rule in
Gaza, "has left more than a million and a half Palestinians under
However, more than a frustration with the current face of Palestinian
leadership or its policies, the motivation for the movement seemed to be more about a disenchantment
with the divisions among its political leaders.
"We are not aiming for revolution," one of the movement's Gaza-based organizers told The Guardian. "In Egypt they wanted to end the regime. Here we want to bring the regime back to life, united in the Palestinian cause."
In addition to planned rallies in Gaza City, Ramallah and major cities
throughout the territories, organizers were calling for satellite
rallies to be held in Palestinian refugee population centers in Lebanon
and Jordan, as well as in front of Palestinian embassies worldwide.
Since the beginning of the year, several demonstrations calling for
Palestinian unity have been held West Bank and Gaza Strip cities but
were dispersed by PA and Hamas security forces, respectively.
Optimistically acknowledging the difficulties faced by the still-unborn movement, the Gaza based organizer told The Guardian, "It's going to happen. We are spreading the word. The first day will be hard, the next day will be better. It will grow."
peace talks stalled and calls for democracy rising throughout the
Middle East, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said last
month he would hold overdue general elections in the West Bank this
But Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, has said it
would boycott the vote unless there is reconciliation first. Hamas won a
parliamentary election in 2006, and a year later violently routed
Abbas' forces and seized full control of Gaza.