Young Israelis and Palestinians remain hopeful despite divisions

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized on Monday for controversial comments he made last week about Arab citizens voting in "droves" in the country's parliamentary elections.


"I know that the things I said a few days ago hurt some citizens in Israel, the Arab Israeli citizens," Netanyahu said. "This was not my intention and I am sorry."

Netanyahu, known as Bibi, survived a hard-fought challenge last week to retain his position as prime minister. The victory, however, did not come without its bruises. Netanyahu's comments during the election drew consternation from leaders around the world, including President Barack Obama.

"We indicated that that kind of rhetoric was contrary to what is the best of Israel's traditions," Obama told The Huffington Post in an interview that aired on Saturday.

Netanyahu's election rhetoric, which the White House called "divisive," could have an impact on the broader political climate in the Middle East, including the contentious issue of Palestinian statehood. Speaking with The Huffington Post, Obama would not comment on whether he would continue to block Palestinian efforts to procure statehood through the United Nations.

The president did say he spoke with Netanyahu after the election and told the Israeli leader "it is going to be hard to find a path where people are seriously believing that negotiations are possible."

Some young Israelis and Palestinians still remain hopeful. Fusion's America with Jorge Ramos visited the West Bank city of Ramallah in February and spoke with Fadi Quran, a 26-year-old tech entrepreneur who worked in Silicon Valley before returning to Ramallah to launch an alternative energy startup.

Life in the West Bank can be intense. As they drove past an Israeli military compound, for instance, Quran warned Ramos that the Israeli military might aim a rifle's laser pointer at them.


"How is it for you as a young Palestinian to live in Ramallah?" Ramos asked Quran.

"You feel you are under a system of apartheid and a system that discriminates against you because of the language you speak and the color of your skin and a system that's seeking to forcibly move you, cleanse you, from your land," he replied.


"Do you think about occupation everyday?" Ramos asked.

"It's not that you think about occupation everyday you live occupation every day," he replied.


Still, Quran found a way to remain optimistic.

"I see peace coming," he told Ramos.

"Really? You're hopeful?" Ramos asked.

"I see peace coming if we work for it strategically," Quran said. "I'm hopeful because you have to be hopeful to achieve change."


Jorge Ramos reporting from Israel and the West Bank will air on Fusion on Tuesday, April 28, at 10 p.m. ET.

Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.