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Abbas, 78, has outstayed his mandate by four years and has no clear rival or successor after Prime Minister Salam Fayyad resigned this month.
In the meantime, real wages have declined by around 8 percent since 2006 and a third of Palestinian homes do not have secure, reliable access to food, the United Nations says.
Youth despair of ever having control over their futures.
“We’re a people under occupation. We feel failure while hunger and unemployment rise. We see corruption and foreign aid distracting our leaders,” contestant Maher al-Komi, 25, from the West Bank city of Hebron, told Reuters.
“I have a degree in media but I work in a corner store. I hope my speaking on this show will make those in charge realize the problems of youth and make changes,” he said.
While Palestinian politics may be in a moribund condition at the national level, the paralysis has not stifled youthful debate, however.
The main university of Nablus in the West Bank was a riot of yellow and green flags, the colours of Fatah and Hamas, on the day of the student council elections last week.
Fatah’s “Martyrs” bloc and “Muslim Palestine” led by Hamas were the two main contenders to lead the 22,000-member student body, with Hamas taking part for the first time in six years.
Both candidates made similar campaign promises about student loans, Internet access and better classroom conditions, but it was ultimately a popularity contest along party lines. In the end, Hamas barely lost out to its rival in a ballot widely seen as a barometer of the Palestinian popular mood.
The real platforms of Fatah and Hamas are poles apart, conceded Bassem Sati, 24, as he milled around the campus with a bandana of Hamas’s trademark green over his shoulders.
Fatah officials in recent years explored the idea of creating a vice-presidency under Abbas, hoping to avoid having to devolve power to the Hamas speaker of parliament, as per Palestinian law, if something should happen to the ageing president.
The drive was ultimately dropped.