When Marwan Barghouti, one of the most outstanding Palestinian
leaders, was arrested, it was obvious that one of the goals of the
interrogators was to use him to implicate Palestinian Authority Chairman
Yasser Arafat of being directly involved with terror. The assumption was
that Barghouti was likely to be tempted to pave the path to national
leadership for himself by this means. But Barghouti rejected all such
Some people thought that through Barghouti, there might be an opportunity
to open a quiet track to indirect negotiations with the Palestinian
leadership. But one attempt to suggest this to the Prime Minister was enough
to make it clear that Ariel Sharon wouldn't accept such a proposal.
It stood in contradiction to his strategy - unilateral disengagement from
the Gaza Strip.
And thus, everything focused on Barghouti's trial. His conviction was
facilitated by his declaration that in the present situation, the
Palestinians will continue to engage in violence. His argument that the
Israeli court had no authority to try him was not accepted. And rightly so.
However, we cannot dismiss the possibility that Barghouti may be a worthy
At present, Israel has no Palestinian address for negotiations. Not
Arafat, not Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala), not
PA security chief Mohammed Dahlan, and not former Prime Minister Mohammed
Abbas (Abu Mazen). The truth is that Sharon isn't interested in such an
address. Such a tactic can be used occasionally; but one gets the impression
that for Sharon it has become a principle. The formula that there will be no
negotiations is in any case causing chaos, and an intensification of the
occupation is not helping even those focusing on the fight against
Neither Israel nor the United States considers Arafat a worthy address
for negotiations to end the conflict. Washington's opposition increased
after it turned out that the person who masterminded the October bombing of
the convoy of American diplomats in the Gaza Strip, in which three Americans
were killed, was a Palestinian policeman who was travelling in the convoy.
Other countries that have formal ties with Arafat are not trying to help
him, especially when he refuses to implement the security reforms dictated
by the Road Map.
In the ensuing vacuum, Barghouti is one of the most authentic and popular
leaders of the Palestinian public. He is charismatic and capable of
establishing a strong leadership coalition around him, and thereby break the
tragic cycle of Palestinian society, which at the moment is incapable of
making any major decisions except for using violence.
In spite of everything that has happened, Barghouti believes in peace
with Israel - that was my impression during a visit at his office before the
Intifada. But along with his call for a peace agreement, he also served as
commander of the military arm that answers to Arafat. He refused to hand in
the weapons held by the Tanzim organization. His men were involved, as per
Arafat's instructions, in the clashes that erupted following the opening of
the Western Wall tunnels (in which fifteen Israelis and some sixty
Palestinians were killed), as well as in clashes in May 2000.
Now Barghouti is in prison, and it looks like he'll be there for a long
time. He will be considered the leader of the thousands of Palestinian
prisoners. In spite of the bloody account between him and Israel, he and his
family should be treated with proper respect. That is not happening, and he
is still isolated from the rest of the prisoners. History has provided us
with examples of successful negotiations held by governments with leaders
who were held in prison, for example, Nelson Mandela, leader of the blacks
in South Africa, and Jomo Kenyatta, leader of the rebels in Kenya. Both
eventually became presidents of their countries and great leaders who
brought about agreements. Israel must also search for the proper Palestinian
exemplar, and it just might be Marwan Barghouti.
Talking to Barghouti
In the framework of the current Israeli Palestinian
diplomatic deadlock, Ha'aretz Defense Editor Ze’ev Schiff reflects on
Israel’s lack of a ‘Palestinian address for negotiations’. According to
Schiff; “ [Marwan] Barghouti […] is charismatic and capable of establishing
a strong leadership coalition around him, and thereby break the tragic cycle
of Palestinian society, which at the moment is incapable of making any major
decisions except for using violence.” (Source: Ha’aretz, July 16, 2004)
Tawfiq Abu Baker:
Palestinian Moderation over Thirty Years
Veteran writer and PLC member, Tawfiq Abu Baker reflects back
on the role of moderation within the PLO over the past thirty years.
Emphasizing the critical role of leaders, Abu Baker calls for a return of a
policy of moderation within the Palestinian leadership. (Source: Jenin
Center for Strategic Studies, July 26, 2004)
Alexandra J. Wall:
Israeli and Jordanian Activists Plead for the
“Water could be what the next war is based on, but if the
countries work together, it could bring peace, too,” commented a Jordanian
student from Israel’s Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. The
institute encourages environmental cooperation between peoples working
towards sustainable development and peace for the region and the world.
(Source: j, the Jewish news weekly of Northern California, July 16, 2004)
Israeli and Palestinian Children Try
Conflict Resolution through Martial Arts...
In the first program of its kind, Israeli and Palestinian
youth learn the principles of conflict resolution through martial arts
training. ‘"Martial arts is about creating harmony within one's self and
that is the first step toward creating harmony with another person," said
Danny Hakim, who founded the Budo for Peace organization.’ (Source:
Ha’aretz, July 23, 2004)