Fayyad consults Facebook subscribers about forming new government

12:34, February 27, 2011      

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Palestinian Prime Minister- designate Salam Fayyad surprised subscribers of the social networking site Facebook when he formed a link asking young Palestinians for their opinions over forming the new government and choosing the cabinet ministers.

In his page on Facebook, Fayyad presented specific questions related to Palestinian youths' wishes and attitudes towards forming the new government and the nominees that might be ministers in his new cabinet. The idea attracted hundreds of youths to participate and present their views.

In recent dramatic changes in the Middle East, particularly in the Arab World, where the regimes of Egypt and Tunis have been toppled, Facebook was used for organizing protests by young people who were seeking for political reforms and democracy.

Fayyad handed his cabinet's resignation to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas two weeks ago, and was later designated to form a new government. Fayyad, a prominent independent economist, is seeking to form a large unity government that includes all levels of the Palestinian society.

"I ask the Palestinian youth about their opinions about proper personalities to occupy a position in the new government and be in charge of a portfolio in the cabinet," Fayyad said on his Facebook page, which attracted hundreds of Palestinians, who filled the page with their comments.

One of the young Palestinians who left a comment on Fayyad's page suggested forming a large national unity government for the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Islamic Hamas movement, and the West Bank, while others urged Fayyad to improve education and fight poverty and unemployment.

Yazzan, a 28-year-old Palestinian from the city of Ramallah in the West Bank, said Fayyad's idea to open a page on Facebook "is a first positive act of its kind in the Palestinian history aiming at attracting the largest group in the Palestinian community, which is youth."

Mahmoud, another young man who works in the private sector, expressed hope that Fayyad puts in consideration all the youths' proposals and suggestions about the new government's platform and portfolios. He also urged the youths to be objective in their comments.

Annas, a 30-year-old Palestinian from Qalqilya in northern West Bank, said Fayyad's idea to use the Facebook "is a smart attempt to reach the most important generation in the Palestinian community, which is youth, who are largely using Facebook."

"I don't rule out that Fayyad's contribution to the Internet to positively invest the energies and abilities of the young to make them share the national causes," said Annas, adding that "this act shows that what is needed is to reflect the youths' opinions on the policy of the new government."

Rami Mahdawi, an active young man and the founder of the Electronic Social Institution Forum, told Xinhua that Fayyad's initiative to have a page on Facebook and consult youths about forming a government "is the first ever in the Middle East and may be the first unique attempt in the world."

"This act has to be seriously considered by both Fayyad and the young men," said Mahdawi, adding "the youth had actually showed a big responsibility and exchanged views with Fayyad related to the program of his new government and who are the people that will be members in his new cabinet."

Mahdawi believes that Fayyad is not alone in all these efforts. "Apparently, Fayyad has formed a team to follow up his page on Facebook," he said, "Every politician, who tries to neglect or marginalize the youths, his credibility would be in danger."

Omer al-Ghoul, an advisor to Fayyad, told Xinhua that Fayyad is interested in involving all the Palestinians in his plans and "is showing a great seriousness in listening to the youths and answering their questions as well as responding to their comments. "

"All the opinions, proposals and ideas made by the young participants on Facebook will be seriously considered," said al- Ghoul, who denied that Fayyad's decision to open a page on Facebook was due to fear that young Palestinians would be inspired by the Tunisians and Egyptians to ask for political changes.

Nashat al-Aqtash, a dean of faculty at Beir Zeit University in the West Bank, told Xinhua "it is a very smart idea, because the recent examples of rules and regimes had shown the contradiction between the governments and the youth. I believe it is a great idea to involve the youths in politics."

Source: Xinhua
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