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Date posted: August 29, 2013
By MIFTAH

Ramallah ĖThis week, the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy held a special meeting of the Palestinian Youth Network entitled ďNormalizationĒ as part of its ďEmpowerment of Palestinian Youth LeadershipĒ program in partnership with NDC.

MIFTAH hosted university professor Dr. Abdel Rahim Al Sheikh, who first offered a definition of normalization, its various forms and the position the society towards it in order to develop methods and mechanisms for dealing with this issue. He said that normalization includes the following: participation in any project, initiative or local or international activity designed specifically to bring together (whether directly or indirectly) Palestinians (and/or Arabs) and Israelis (whether individuals or institutions) and which do not clearly aim at resisting the occupation and exposing all of its forms of discrimination and oppression against the Palestinian people, in addition to establishing projects or activities aimed at ďachieving peaceĒ without agreeing on inalienable Palestinian rights according to international law and the conditions for justice.

He explained that the most prominent forms of normalization are activities aimed at scientific, educational, cultural, professional, women or youth cooperation or activities or those that break down psychological barriers. The exception to this are forums and international gatherings that are held outside of the Arab world such as conferences, festivals, exhibitions or public debates that Israelis participate in alongside international participants and are not aimed at bringing Palestinians or Arabs and Israelis together. Also excluded, according to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israelís website, are case of extreme emergency having to do with saving lives such as the spread of disease or a natural or environmental disaster that requires Palestinian-Israeli cooperation.

Dr. Al Sheikh pointed to the danger of meetings organized between Palestinian and Israeli youth within the framework of getting to know one another and spreading a culture of peace and dialogue in an ordinary fashion that considers both sides as equals in the conflict.

The participants expressed their viewpoints on the subject, stressing on the need to denounce all normalization activities and projects, which did do not serve the Palestinian cause or its people. In this context, the participants also broached the subject of negotiations taking place between the Palestinians and Israelis under American sponsorship. They discussed their feasibility and their ramifications on Palestinian society, pointing out that the people, alongside the leadership, also bear responsibility for the results of these negotiations.

One participant and student at Birzeit University, Najwan Abu Nijim said: ďYouths are ignorant in terms of the concept of normalization. There have been many things we thought were normalization but turned out not to be according to these guidelines, and vice versa.Ē

Jacqueline Khatib, a student at Al Quds University agreed, pointing to the importance of reviving the role of the network in order to spread awareness among youth on this subject. She also said efforts should be exerted to revive the network at the cultural, political and social levels.

The Palestinian Youth Network includes participants from most Palestinian factions and from a number of Palestinian universities and colleges in the West Bank. This meeting was held as part of a group of activities, which the network seeks to implement in the next stage in order to achieve its vision and strategic approaches.

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