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Youth gather for global meet on PLO elections

Jan. 9, 2012 4:54 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 9, 2012 9:55 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Youth activists in at least eight countries will take part in a global meeting via live media on Tuesday, to call for elections to the PLO parliament.

Palestinians meeting in Ramallah, Beirut, Rome, London, Madrid, Stockholm, Santiago and across the US will connect online to assert their right to a voice in the umbrella body that is the legal representative of Palestinians on the world stage, a release from organizers said.

"Again and again, it has been youth who have raised the banner for genuine unity and a re-claiming of the PLO through direct elections to the Palestinian National Council," the press statement said on Monday.

"Young Palestinians around the world will be holding a conversation together with one aim: How do we ensure that all Palestinians can exercise their inalienable right to participate in elections to our Palestinian National Council?"

A committee formed after the May 2011 reconciliation deal between rival factions Hamas and Fatah has been tasked with organizing elections to the PNC, the PLO parliament currently dominated by appointees, and says it will begin work next week.

Representing Palestinians in exile across the world as well as those living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the PLO has faced criticism of failing to include Diaspora voices, as well as newer factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who are not members.

Established in 1964, the PLO speaks for Palestinians at the UN and is a signatory to international texts, in contrast to the Palestinian Authority government based in Ramallah which was given temporary jurisdiction within limited areas of self-rule in the 1993 Oslo Accords.

The reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas sought to forge a common national strategy and reform the PLO, but implementation has faltered as the parties continue to spar over key terms.
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