Approximately 30% of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) are “youth”, i.e., between the ages of 15 and 29. Their reality today is significantly different than for the generations before them. Firstly, they were born or grew up in the post-Oslo Accords era and are thus not fighting for Palestinian self-rule per se. Secondly, they have been socialized not only under the all-dominant Israeli occupation but also in an environment of separation and division between the West Bank and Gaza, and of a rivalry between the two main political actors, Fatah and Hamas. Thirdly, as societies worldwide are grappling with technological, economic, and cultural transformations, Palestinian youth are also affected by the impacts of globalization and the use of the internet.
While today’s youth is better educated than any generation before it, the transition to the labor market is difficult, resulting in high unemployment rates. Youth are at the forefront of the struggle against occupation when it comes to death and injury, arrests and detentions, and face - as Palestinians at large - discrimination in almost every aspect of daily life from denial of basic human rights to attempts at eliminating their national identity. However, disillusioned by the decades of uprisings and negotiations that have, in their eyes at least, not produced anything but cynicism and a worsened situation on the ground, they rather stay away from traditional political participation, which keeps their representation and role in decision-making very low. While the above is true for Palestine’s youth at large, those living in occupied East Jerusalem face particular difficulties. Being considered residents but not citizens of the state of Israel they live with a persistent threat1 If not otherwise stated, ‘youth’ refers to the age group 15-29 throughout this bulletin.