Marwan Barghouti, the most prominent Fatah leader imprisoned in Israel, this week released an unusual statement from his cell. He called on his people to start a popular uprising against Israel, to stop negotiations and security coordination and to boycott it. Jerusalem would do well to listen to him.
Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences, was among those who started the second intifada. Before it began he warned Israel it was on the way. Back when he was a peace-loving, popular leader who had not yet turned to violence, Barghouti made the rounds of Israeli politicians, opinion-makers and the central committees of the Zionist parties and urged them to reach an agreement with the Palestinians.
Otherwise, he said, an uprising would break out. His words fell on deaf ears. No one heeded his warnings, the terrible intifada broke out and Barghouti played a key role in it.
From his cell, Barghouti can now see the total freeze in negotiations, the lack of action by Israel, and that the issue of the occupation and peace with the Palestinians is being taken off the Israeli agenda, and he once again calls on his people to rise up. We can understand him. If Israel had wanted an agreement with the Palestinians it would have released him from prison by now. Barghouti is the most authentic leader Fatah has produced and he can lead his people to an agreement.
Israel chose not to release him, neither as part of a swap nor as a gesture, and at the same time has chosen to ignore the occupation. If people aren’t talking about it, it doesn’t exist. But this approach could blow up in our faces. The occupation has become more comfortable in recent years. Murderous terror has all but ceased, security coordination is coming along nicely and the economic situation in the territories has improved a little. But anyone who thinks, like the government does, that this situation can go on forever undisturbed, is leading us into another cycle of violence.
Barghouti recommended that his people choose nonviolent opposition. That, too, will be bad for Israel. Therefore, unlike the previous time, we should listen to him before it’s too late. If a third uprising breaks out, Israel will not be able to feign surprise. Barghouti warned us.
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