Jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti defended the Palestinians' right to "resist the occupation," and said that the current round of violence was being fought by a new generation of Palestinians. He made the claims in an op-ed written for The Guardian and published on Sunday.
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Barghouti, the former leader of the Palestinian Tanzim militia who is serving multiple life sentences for his role in terror attacks that targeted Israelis, was once considered a possible successor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and still holds political sway among Palestinians and the Fatah party, of which he was a member.
Barghouti attempted to dispel claims that the current escalation was a result of tit-for-tat violence by Israelis and Palestinians , saying “The real problem is that Israel has chosen occupation over peace and used negotiations as a smoke screen to advance its colonial project.
"Every day colonialism advances, the siege on our people in Gaza continues, oppression persists," he wrote, claiming that the "root cause" of the violence was "the denial of Palestinian freedom."
Expressing support for recent events, he said that “This new Palestinian generation has not awaited reconciliation talks to embody a national unity [that] political parties have failed to achieve.
“It has not awaited instructions to uphold its right, and its duty, to resist this occupation," he wrote, claiming that this new generation of Palestinian has transcended political fault lines and geographical division.
According to him, "It is doing so unarmed, while being confronted by one of the biggest military powers in the world.”
Barghouti also took aim at what many claim is the heart of current tensions - recent events in the Temple Mount complex, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which some Palestinians claim has been under attack by Israel.
According to him, unnamed Israeli actions could “transform a solvable political conflict into a never-ending religious war that will only further undermine stability in a region already experiencing unprecedented turmoil.”
He concluded his article by saying "I have spent 20 years of my life in Israeli jails, including the past 13 years, and these years have made me even more certain of this unalterable truth: the last day of occupation will be the first day of peace. Those who seek the latter need to act, and act now, to precipitate the former."