Pictured: Abbas Zaki, Oliver McTernan Director of Forward Thinking, Mayor Tayseer Abu Sneineh, Yousef Tamayza, Dr Nasser al-Din al-Shaer and Dr. Mustafa Barghouti.

‘No Future for the Palestinian People Without Partnership’

On the 7th July 2018, Forward Thinking facilitated a conference in Hebron entitled ‘Moving Forward Together – The Opportunities Despite the Challenges’. Senior political leaders from across the political spectrum offered keynote speeches to launch the discussion between over 70 cross-factional political, youth and business leaders who identified practical recommendations in support of Palestinian unity. 

These focused on the rejuvenation of political institutions, policies to support the inclusion of women and young people in politics and public life, the role of municipalities, economic development, and the relationship between the business community and politics in the face of existential challenges.

The conference was successful in highlighting not only the specific challenges of Hebron – the largest city in the West Bank with a unique set of socio-economic and security issues – but in underlining the link between national unity and effectively addressing local concerns. There was consensus that the lack of Palestinian unity is a ‘black spot on the Palestinian people’. 

Given the highly-charged political environment and the sensitivities of inclusive dialogue in Hebron, it was highly significant that political figures from opposing factions participated alongside youth and business leaders. The conference therefore bridged political and generational divides, as well as combatting the geographic isolation of Hebron by convening senior figures from Jerusalem, Nablus and Ramallah. It was the first inclusive conference to be held in Hebron for almost a year. 

Importantly, there was consensus that  ‘there can be no future for the Palestinian people without partnership’. Such partnership requires accommodating diversity, actively working together, and must overcome the alienation of youth from the political decision-making processes. Such partnership should be the starting point from which to reinvigorate municipal and national institutions, ensuring they both represent the Palestinian people, and can fulfil their responsibilities to deliver to them.   

The conference marked the conclusion of a series of conferences that have taken place across Palestine in Ramallah, Gaza and Nablus. However, it marks the start of an ongoing commitment and process of dialogue which can capitalise on the momentum created.