Palestinian premier seeks youth input on Facebook

AP News
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Posted: Feb 24, 2011 1:13 PM
Palestinian premier seeks youth input on Facebook

The Palestinian premier is looking to a modern tool to tap into demands of his youth for change _ a Facebook page.

At a time when disgruntled youth are spurring revolutions across the Middle East, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is posting questions on his page in the popular social media outlet, asking for their opinions.

Among the questions is one asking Facebook users to list candidates for a new Cabinet. Fayyad and his Cabinet resigned recently as part of a run-up to September elections.

Fayyad said 3,200 people commented on that issue, and the number of people viewing his page has increased 20 percent since the question appeared on Wednesday.

Another question asks for priorities for the next government's agenda. That one has 361 responses so far, according to Fayyad's office. Content of the replies was not released.

Fayyad spokesman Jamal Zaqout said the prime minister is personally looking at the entries. "This is a method to stay in touch with people and listening to what they have to say," he said Thursday.

Israel's prime minister and president have had their own Facebook pages since last year, their offices said.

Palestinian politics are at a crossroads, with Gaza ruled by the Islamic Hamas and the West Bank by Fayyad's Western-backed government. Calling presidential and parliamentary elections for September, Fayyad's boss, President Mahmoud Abbas, is hoping to reverse a Hamas election victory in 2006.

That was followed the next year by Hamas' takeover of Gaza from forces loyal to Abbas.

Abbas' regime has come under criticism for inefficiency and nepotism. Some members of its Fatah Party complain that young leaders are neutralized, and the old guard remains firmly in charge.