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Palestinian youth see 'bleak' future ahead, poll finds

April 13, 2016 2:09 P.M. (Updated: April 14, 2016 6:25 P.M.)
Three young Palestinian protesters sit on a pavement during clashes in Bethlehem, Oct. 9, 2015. (MaanImages/Killian Redden, File)
By: Killian Redden

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A recent survey has painted a bleak picture of the Palestinian youth's outlook on the future, with two-thirds believing Palestine is heading in the wrong direction and a majority not registered to vote in future Palestinian elections.

The Arab World for Research and Development (AWRAD), which interviewed 1,200 youths aged 18 to 25 in late March, said the results published Tuesday "show a gloomy view of current trends and future prospects."

The poll found that 67 percent of Palestinian youth in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip believe Palestine is heading in the wrong direction, while 73 percent say they have a "bleak future outlook."

AWRAD found wide disaffection with Palestinian state institutions; only 47 percent of the younger generation is registered to vote, while among those not registered, 57 percent have no plans to register.

It has now been more than 10 years since the last Palestinian elections, and 64 percent view the participation of Palestinian youth in national decision-making as unsatisfactory, and corruption in public life is the generation's third greatest concern.

Reflecting protests that swept across the occupied Palestinian territory last October, Palestinian youth also expressed more willingness to engage in demonstrations that were not affiliated with any one Palestinian political faction.

Only 25 percent of the Palestinian youth were willing to participate in a demonstration called for by Fatah and 15 percent one by Hamas, whereas 58 percent were willing to take part in unaffiliated demonstrations against Israel's nearly 50-year military occupation.

The greatest concern for Palestinian youth is employment, the poll found, with only a third describing their economic situation as "good" or "very good." This concern was magnified in Gaza, where only 21 percent are positive about their economic prospects.

While offering further evidence of the frustration and despair that Palestinians say was the root cause of the past six months of unrest, the survey also showed a high degree of self-confidence among the Palestinian youth.

"While most youth appear to be losing confidence in current political processes and express mixed enthusiasm with respect to volunteerism and social activism, they remain confident in themselves and their potential contributions," AWRAD said.

"The majority of Palestinian young people describe themselves as talented, hard-working, entrepreneurial, ambitious and passionate about life."
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