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Youth coalition: Unity process prolonging division

Feb. 17, 2013 8:28 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 18, 2013 5:56 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A coalition of Palestinian youth groups in the Arab world, Europe and US on Sunday accused Palestinian leaders in Gaza and the West Bank of prolonging national division through "absurd" unity talks, and called for them to prioritize PLO elections.

Fatah and Hamas signed a deal in May 2011 to reunite the West Bank and Gaza, but political factions have repeatedly failed to reach an agreement concerning its practical implementation. The factions violently split into separate governments in 2007.

Reconciliation meetings held in Cairo last week ended without agreement on the date of new elections or a transition government, participants said.

The youth groups said the apparent failure of the talks make clear that the reconciliation process has "only prolonged the division and deepened its impact on Palestinian society."

"In repeated and now well-rehearsed scenes, reconciliation efforts have been hindered by procedural issues or the interests of one faction or another, without taking into account the historical and national consequences of such an absurd approach to achieving national reconciliation," the statement said.

The groups called for leaders to direct attention instead to holding elections for the PLO's parliament, the Palestinian National Council.

The statement, signed by several youth groups in Palestinian camps in Lebanon, as well as Israel and European-based organizations, called to reunite Palestinians "in the homeland and in exile."

"It has become clear that the best solution to unite the Palestinians ... is not a division or sharing of the national institutions between Palestinian factions based on parochial interests, but to return to the Palestinian people through democratic elections to the Palestinian National Council in a manner which guarantees the participation of all of our people," it said.

The reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah included an agreement to reform the PLO, which has been criticized for failing to represent the whole Palestinian polity.
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