Barghouti declares peace process a failure, urges Palestinian unity

Barghouti declares peace process a failure, urges Palestinian unity
On the 13th anniversary of his imprisonment, the popular Fatah leader says the Oslo project has failed and calls for a fundamental reassessment of the role of the Palestinian Authority.
4 min read
15 April, 2015
Marwan Barghouti remains an influential figure in Palestinian politics despite his imprisonment. (Getty)

On the 13th anniversary of his imprisonment, Marwan Barghouti has called for an end to Palestinian divisions and urged the Palestinian authority to officially endorse and support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement worldwide.

The Fatah leader, in prison since 2002 and the second Palestinian Intifada, remains one of the most popular Palestinian political leaders and a symbol of the Palestinian intifada.

     A negotiated solution with the Zionist project has proved to be a total failure.

- Marwan Barghouti

Despite initially supporting talks with Israel, Barghouti, in his statement Wednesday, delivered from prison, said that the idea of "a negotiated solution with the Zionist project has proved to be a total failure", noting the recent victory of the right-wing Likud party, led by Binyamin Netanyahu, in Israeli elections.

Barghouti joined the Palestinian Fatah movement at the age of 15, and was a co-founder of the Fatah Youth Movement (Shabiba) in the West Bank.

He was first arrested in 1978 and imprisoned for more than four years for “membership of a banned organisation”.

He then completed his secondary education and received his high school diploma while in jail. Several short-term arrests followed as Israel identified him as a budding Palestinain leader of note. 

On the eve of the first intifada in May 1997, he was expelled to Jordan for "incitement", by then-Commander of the Israeli army's Central Command, Gen. Ehud Barak.

He returned to Ramallah after the Oslo Accords were signed, believing that Palestinians could secure self determination and the right of return of refugees under the treaty.

With time, however, Barghouti became disillusioned with the accords and the new political order it installed in occupied territory.

Consequently, he coordinated with Hamas and other Palestinian factions to mobilise Palestinians again and ignite the second Intifada.

On 15 April 2002, Barghouti was arrested in Ramallah and transferred to the "Russian Compound" police station in Jerusalem.

Two years later, he was convicted of 5 counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Despite being in prison, Barghouti remains active and committed to Palestinian national unity, co-authoring the prisoners' national reconciliation document in 2006 that outlined the basis for a national unity agreement.

His statement Wednesday came in reply to written questions sent to him by Palestinian journalists.

On Israeli elections

Asked about the recent Israeli elections, Barghouti said that the results reaffirmed the end of the so-called peace process and the futility of negotiating with the Israeli government.

The vote for the Israeli right reflects an Israeli society that is growing increasingly extremist, Barghouti said.

In that sense, Barghouti argued that the strategies and efforts put to achieve a political settlement with Israel have failed for good.

Consequently, there is a Palestinian need to "grasp this truth and stop feeding false hope", Barghouti insists.

With the ever-rightward trend in Israel and "peace talks" collapsed, Barghouti urged Palestinian, Arab and international movements to isolate the Israeli government and hold it accountable in international courts.

Barghouti also urged the official Palestinian Authority, PA, to endorse the BDS movement, which has gained in traction over recent years. In parallel, he said, the PA should facilitate the revival of popular resistance in occupied Palestinian land.  

On Palestinian leadership

Barghouti also expressed his disappointment over a Palestinian political elite he described as helpless and divided.

He accused the Palestinian leadership of engaging in futile bickering that is being exploited by Israel.

Failing leadership is reflected, according to Barghouti, in the "massacre" facing the Palestinians of Yarmouk in Syria.

Palestinians, he said, deserve a unified, decisive, and competent leadership. That, he suggested, could only happen with a fundamental reassessment of the role of the PA, which has over the years become a "security guard" for the Israeli occupation.

He also accused the Palestinian leadership in general and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) leadership specifically of not doing enough to secure his release and that of his fellow detainees.

Barghouti called on the Palestinian people to stand up and put an end to the political crisis by forming a national strategy taking on board the lessons of the past.

This needed to start with a unity conference that should include all civil movements, political parties and unions that represent all Palestinians.