Palestinian Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti flashes the V-sign for victory as he is escorted by Israeli police into Jerusalem’s Magistrate Court. Jan. 25, 2012. Marco Longari/AFP – Getty
A week ago on March 26th Marwan Barghouti, the Palestinian leader who has been imprisoned for ten years, called for a Third Intifada: a mass nonviolent uprising officially ending the charade of “peace negotiations,” and ending “all coordination with Israel” and turning “to the UN General Assembly and the rest of its agencies” to further Palestine’s bid for statehood.
Barghouti’s letter, read aloud during a rally in Ramallah, directly challenges the policy of Abbas and the Palestinian Authority for maintaining the occupation through their cooperation with Israel.
Yesterday the state of Israel punished Marwan Barghouti by placing him in solitary confinement.
Uri Avnery wrote The New Mandela on the eve of Land Day 2012. I urge everyone to read the entire article.
When the Oslo process died with the assassinations of Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, Marwan and his organization became targets. Successive Israeli leaders – Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon – decided to put an end to the two-state agenda. In the brutal “Defensive Shield operation (launched by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, the new leader of the Kadima Party) the Palestinian Authority was attacked, its services destroyed and many of its activists arrested.
Marwan Barghouti was put on trial. It was alleged that, as the leader of Tanzim, he was responsible for several “terrorist” attacks in Israel. His trial was a mockery, resembling a Roman gladiatorial arena more than a judicial process. The hall was packed with howling rightists, presenting themselves as “victims of terrorism”. Members of Gush Shalom protested against the trial inside the court building but we were not allowed anywhere near the accused.
Marwan was sentenced to five life sentences. The picture of him raising his shackled hands above his head has become a Palestinian national icon. When I visited his family in Ramallah, it was hanging in the living room.
A supporter of jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti hangs his posters in Ramallah in 2004. Photograph: Muhammed Muheisen/AP
He calls for a Third Intifada, a non-violent mass uprising in the spirit of the Arab Spring.
His manifesto is a clear rejection of the policy of Mahmoud Abbas, who maintains limited but all-important cooperation with the Israeli occupation authorities. Marwan calls for a total rupture of all forms of cooperation, whether economic, military or other.
A focal point of this cooperation is the day-to-day collaboration of the American-trained Palestinian security services with the Israeli occupation forces. This arrangement has effectively stopped violent Palestinian attacks in the occupied territories and in Israel proper. It guarantees, In practice, the security of the growing Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Marwan also calls for a total boycott of Israel, Israeli institutions and products in the Palestinian territories and throughout the world. Israeli products should disappear from West Bank shops, Palestinian products should be promoted.
At the same time, Marwan advocates an official end to the charade called “peace negotiations”. This term, by the way, is never heard anymore in Israel. First it was replaced with “peace process”, then “political process”, and lately “the political matter”. The simple word “peace” has become taboo among rightists and most “leftists” alike. It’s political poison.
Marwan proposes to make the absence of peace negotiations official. No more international talk about “reviving the peace process”, no more rushing around of ridiculous people like Tony Blair, no more hollow announcements by Hillary Clinton and Catherine Ashton, no more empty declarations of the “Quartet”. Since the Israeli government clearly has abandoned the two-state solution – which it never really accepted in the first place – keeping up the pretense just harms the Palestinian struggle.
Instead of this hypocrisy, Marwan proposes to renew the battle in the UN. First, apply again to the Security Council for the acceptance of Palestine as a member state, challenging the US to use its solitary veto openly against practically the whole world. After the expected rejection of the Palestinian request by the Council as a result of the veto, request a decision by the General Assembly, where the vast majority would vote in favor. Though this would not be binding, it would demonstrate that the freedom of Palestine enjoys the overwhelming support of the family of nations, and isolate Israel (and the US) even more.
Parallel to this course of action, Marwan insists on Palestinian unity, using his considerable moral force to put pressure on both Fatah and Hamas.
To summarize, Marwan Barghouti has given up all hope of achieving Palestinian freedom through cooperation with Israel, or even Israeli opposition forces. The Israeli peace movement is not mentioned anymore. “Normalization” has become a dirty word.
Prisons Authority spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said Barghouti “has been placed in isolation for a week and denied visits and access to the inmates’ canteen for a month” as a punishment for issuing the statement.
“I call on the Palestinian Authority to end all forms of coordination, security and economic, with the occupation,” wrote Barghouti…..
“The job of the Palestinian security services is to provide security and protection to Palestinian citizens, not to protect the occupation,” said the man widely recognised as the driving force behind the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, and who still commands great respect among Palestinians.
The letter also called on Abbas to “stop marketing the illusion that it is possible to end the occupation through these negotiations.”
“We must affirm the absolute right of our people to resist occupation in all ways, and in the way appropriate to the situation — and at this stage, popular resistance serves our people,” he said.
Marking the tenth anniversary of his imprisonment, this is the first time Marwan Barghouti has called for a complete halt in ‘peace negotiations’.
(Hat tip Esther Riley)