Hunger Strike Leader Barghouti Meets Lawyer for First Time, Calls on Palestinian Factions to Unite

Marwan Barghouti calls on Fatah, Hamas to reconcile political differences, resist negotiations with Israel on basis of principles used in previous talks

Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti attends a deliberation at Jerusalem Magistrate's court, in this January 25, 2012 file photo.
Ammar Awad, Reuters

The leader of the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike in Israeli prisons, Marwan Barghouti, met Sunday with a lawyer for the first time since beginning the strike and through him sent a letter calling for a Palestinian campaign of civil disobedience against the occupation, and on Hamas and Fatah to show a unified Palestinian front.

Barghouti's letter, originally given to his lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoners Administration which eventually released it to Palestinian media, also called on the Palestinians to increase support and solidarity for the hunger strikers.

Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences for the murder of Israelis, linked his call to the marking of Nakba Day on Monday, May 15, the day after the Gregorian calendar date on which Israel declared independence. Nakba, Arabic for “catastrophe,” refers to the flight or displacement of the Arab population that accompanied the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

After its release, Barghouti's letter received wide coverage in the international Arabic press. 

“I promise to you and to all the prisoners that we are continuing the empty stomach campaign and the campaign for freedom and dignity until we achieve our objectives, and that nothing will break the will or determination of the prisoners despite the assault on them and the oppression they are coping with. I stress that all efforts at blackmail and tough moves will only increase the prisoners’ determination,” Barghouti wrote.

Barghouti also took the opportunity to call on Fatah and Hamas to end the rift between them and to establish a unity government to prevent the collapse of the Palestinian political structure. On diplomatic issues, Barghouti warned against agreeing to negotiate with Israel on the basis of the principles that were the basis for talks until now. 

He said Israel must commit to ending the occupation according to a defined timetable, to freeze settlement construction, withdraw to the 1967 lines and recognize Palestinian self-determination, to the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and to recognize UN Resolution 194 that relates to the right of return and the release of prisoners as a central condition to resuming negotiations.

The prisoners administration said that Barghouti is being held in isolation, is subject to a humiliating body check four times a day while his legs and arms are restrained and has lost 12 kilos.