In the aftermath of President Trump’s statement on Jerusalem and the perceived stagnation of reconciliation talks between Palestinian factions, the mood in the West Bank is one of apprehension and concern for the future. Many have been cautiously awaiting the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) Emergency Central Council meeting – held in Ramallah from 14th-15th January – to see if this could mark a significant turning point in Palestinian strategy. Others, however, expressed scepticism that anything ground-breaking would be announced at the meeting.
Despite the concerns and pessimism of many, there nonetheless remains a widespread commitment to achieving sustainable Palestinian political unity. More than ever, the view across factions – and echoed at the grassroots level – is that a decade of division has critically undermined and weakened the Palestinian national movement, and that unity is crucial to developing a more effective Palestinian strategy.
Capitalising on this sentiment and on the success of the ‘Moving Forward Together’ conference held in Gaza in December 2017, meetings were held between 8th-12th January to explore the possibility of holding a parallel conference in the West Bank, focused on how Palestinian youth – and the manifold challenges they face – can be a consensus area where practical cooperation amongst Palestinians can develop.