In cooperation with the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the National Society for Democracy and Law (NSDL) organized this morning a public meeting in Rachel Corrie Hall in Rafah governorate on the economic crisis and its impact on the youth. The presence in the meeting comprised the MP Ashraf Gom’a, the member of the Oversight and the Human rights Committee in the Palestinian Legislative Council; the economic expert Omar Shaban; Sahar Sha’at, the program manager in the CRS; Ibraheem Moammar, the head of the board of directors in the NSDL and Ahmad Abu Assaker the executive manager; in addition to many representatives of the civil society institutions, legal, Islamic, national and reform personalities.

The organization of this meeting was in the context of the project of building youth leadership in Palestine, which is being implemented by the NSDL in cooperation with the CRS.

IAhmad Abu Assaker opened the meeting. He defined the project and its objectives, praising the role of the CRS in supporting the NSDL. He mentioned that the meeting is a ring of a chain of meetings and workshops the NSDL is implementing in partnership with the CRS, which are dedicated to discussing the problems and issues of youth such as poverty, unemployment, drugs addiction, violence against women, the role of the civil society institutions in developing the capacities of youth, and the role of the media institutions in stimulating the issues concerning youth.

In his comment, the MP Ashraf Gom’a emphasized that the economic crisis generated grave ramifications on all sectors of the Palestinian society, particularly the youth. He expressed his incomprehension of the international silence on the persistence of the economic siege on the Gaza Strip in a time in which it become so unambiguous that the Gaza Strip is suffering excessively because of the persistence of this siege. He deplored the continuing increase of prices especially those of the basic commodities, while expressing his acute condemnation of everybody’s silence on this problem. He called on the citizens to break through their silence and exercise their right to criticism, peaceful protest by democratic means which law guaranteed to them. He appealed to the Palestinian government to intervene to alleviate the suffering of citizens and to pay its attention to the youth sector, especially those who are unemployed, and pay to the youth employees their due delayed salaries given the current difficult circumstances. He expressed his hope that the Palestinian people reunite under the Palestinian flag, and the competition and difference be only for the sake of the lost youth who lost every hope and dream and not for privileges and special interest, for these destinations are perishable and what remains is the honour of serving and defending the needy and humble citizens.

In his word, the economic expert Omar Shaban spoke about the role of the CRS, which works with the utmost effort to concentrate on the youth issues, and on the projects the CRS implemented with the civil society institutions especially at the marginalised areas. He mentioned that everybody is paying the price of the political differences. He emphasised that any political party should be a servant to people and not a master on them. Poverty in Palestine is a result of not designing an economic plan throughout the previous years; and the lands of the evacuated Israeli settlements have not been exploited properly whether by the previous governments or the terminated Palestinian government in Gaza. He mentioned also the endorsement of a contract of exploitation of the newly discovered gas field in the Gaza Sea for ten year for 250 million dollars, pointing out that this contract does not manifest any sovereignty for the Palestinian people. The ex-president Yasser Arafat refused to endorse the contract, for it damages the interests of the Palestinian people. Shaban pointed out that there is an economic plan to be presented to the donor states by December in a total value of 3 billion dollars, and that the Gaza Strip is not enveloped by this plan. Whoever visits Ramallah will witness the wide economic gap between it and the Gaza Strip. He stated that there is an intentional humiliation of youth in the Gaza Strip: youth began to look for temporal employment opportunities in sweeping streets. We do not want our qualified youth to be sanitation workers, for they are the sole hope in building a better future and must get their legitimate rights. He highlighted that there is an intentional exaggeration of the external financial support in order to rob us from the free hand in determining our sovereignty, for who does not have money, does not have the sovereignty.

On his par, Ibraheem Moammar mentioned in his word the persistence of the suffocating economic crisis in the Gaza Strip and its negative impacts in all phases of life there, due to the closure of all crossings and the Israeli’s declaration of the Gaza Strip a hostile entity, which increased the tightness of the siege on the Gza Strip. The siege damaged the Palestinian people in general and the child, womam, and student in particular. He stated that the siege is a grave violation of the human rights and defies many human rights such as the international covenant concerningthe civil, social, cultural, economic, and political rights, including the rights to work, living under comfortable circumstances, in addition to the rights to medical treatment, education, defending the familial life, travelling and movement. The youth sectors has been greatly damaged in a way that made them lose any hope for a better future. Moammar appealed to the political leadership to deprive the Israeli occupation of any pretext by restoring the unity of the Palestinian national home, in order to restore the smile on the faces of our children, women, and youth who lost any hope due to the current political fragmentation.

In the end of the meeting, the participants unanimously emphasised that 1- The necessity of pursuing a well-studied economic plan by responsible and policy-makers. 2- Exploiting the lands of the evacuated Israeli settlement in the most proper and ideal manner. 3- Eliminating the tax toll imposed on the Palestinian citizen. 4- Coordinating with the neighbour Arab countries to open labour markets to the unemployed graduates.