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Date posted: December 20, 2018
By MIFTAH

Ramallah As part of its Empowerment of Youth Leaders Program, implemented in cooperation with the Palestinian Arab Investment Company [APIC], MIFTAH held a policy meeting on December 8, 2018. During the meeting, a factsheet on the General Union of Palestine Students [GUPS] was presented along with a draft of the proposed amendments to its constitution as a means of attaining true representation for youth within PLO bodies. The policy meeting is a continuation of the meetings and sessions MIFTAH held to press for the revival of GUPS.

MIFTAH project coordinator, Hassan Mahareeq said the session was one means of support for the steps MIFTAH is taking in this regard. He said the audience included representatives from political parties, PLO institutions, university student union councils and representatives from the Political and Social Active Youth Network, which reflects the importance of GUPS and the need to revive its role in enabling youth to take the initiative in regaining the political parties they represent.

The attendees addressed the significance of GUPS as a youth platform within the PLO, saying the defunct Union meant the exclusion of issues related to Palestinian university students, whether in Gaza, the West Bank or abroad. They for political parties and factions must shoulder their responsibilities towards their youth bodies and therefore work in earnest to reactivate GUPS.

The participants indicated to an overall weakness, whether in the student movement or in the laxity of political parties and factions, which have become detached from the concerns and aspirations of Palestinian youth. They said the significance of GUPS lies in its capacity as the political umbrella for all youth bodies and its goal of developing policies that reflect the interests and needs of students. It also represents their political viewpoints on vital issues and national and political dialogues.

During the session, the participants expressed the need to also revive the democratic approach in order to galvanize youth and student councils. They said the disrupted democratic process in universities, especially in Al Quds Open University, has deprived generations of students over the past 12 years from practically exercising democratic values in choosing their representatives. This has only furthered the recession of student movements and the scaling back of their role in defending the concerns of their public.

They also reiterated the importance of continuing to push towards the goal of reviving GUPS through holding its general conference, electing its administrative boards and increasing and expanding dialogue sessions. The participants said it was imperative to continue contacts with factions, especially those involved in GUPS, and invite them to the dialogue table so they could all devise a code of honor through which the general secretaries of parties and factions pledge to seriously work on reviving GUPS. They would also commit to working in parallel with student council unions in order to expedite the necessary procedures for holding the general conference and to include the constitutional amendments proposed by the Union.

The participants closed the session by confirming that after these steps are completed, they would go directly to the PLO Executive Committee to share all of the outcomes, recommendations and demands resulting from the MIFTAH-sponsored sessions and hold them responsible as Executive Committee members for committing to implement them, alongside the national and political priorities regarding Palestinian political action.

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