Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti has been severely reprimanded by the Israel Prison Service for publishing an opinion piece in British daily The Guardian last week in which he praised the "new generation" of Palestinians amid the recent surge in violence.
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The prison service said that at a disciplinary hearing Barghouti denied having sent out any such article. Lacking evidence to the contrary, prison officials could only hand out a reprimand.
Barghouti is serving five life sentences for murder. Since his incarceration in 2002, he has been able to issue direct and indirect messages to the Arabic and foreign-language press, and articles have occasionally been published with his byline.
Last week, in an October 12 piece entitled “There will be no peace until Israel’s occupation of Palestine ends,” Barghouti ostensibly wrote about the recent escalation in Israel, and insisted that the problem is that “Israel has chosen occupation over peace.”
He added, “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.” There was no call for an intensification of the violence.
He also criticized the international community for doing nothing to end the occupation. “We were told that by resorting to peaceful means and to diplomatic channels we would garner the support of the international community to end the occupation. And yet, as in 1999 at the close of the interim period, that community failed yet again to undertake any meaningful steps, neither setting up an international framework to implement international law and UN resolutions, nor enacting measures to ensure accountability, including boycott, divestment and sanctions, which played a crucial role in ridding the world of the apartheid regime.”
In the absence of international action to end the occupation, he asked, “What are we asked to do? Stand by and wait for the next Palestinian family to be burned, for the next Palestinian child to be killed or arrested, for the next settlement to be built?” He said there could be no negotiations without an Israeli commitment to withdraw from the territories occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem, a total cessation of the settlement policy, recognition of Palestinian rights, including the “right of return,” and the release of all Palestinian prisoners. “We cannot coexist with the occupation, and we will not surrender to it,” he wrote.