JERUSALEM – Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti (pictured), who is serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison, called on the Palestinians in a recent column to unite and turn the current wave of terror attacks into a “comprehensive intifada.”
Barghouti, who has been the subject of a popular campaign positioning him as a possible heir to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, wrote in a column published two weeks ago by the East Jerusalem-based Al-Quds:
It is regrettable that in this uprising, which has continued for five months with no signs of stopping, there has yet to be one local, Arab, or international element to adopt it politically, socially, informationally, and financially, or to move it forward into a comprehensive popular intifada and to equip it with goals and a political view that do not just continue the previous phase with its miserable leaders and policy.
Barghouti criticizes the Palestinian Authority in his column, parts of which were translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute and published on Wednesday.
The PA, he wrote, failed to take political advantage of the last five months’ series of stabbing, shooting, and car ramming attacks by Palestinians against Israelis. The jailed Tanzim leader also challenged Abbas, who avoids wholeheartedly supporting the attacks, especially when addressing non-Arab listeners.
Elsewhere in the column, Barghouti wrote that the PA’s failure to harness the recent attacks also damaged the Palestinians’ national goals, which, he said, have by now become overshadowed by larger developments in the Arab world:
The Palestinian Authority failed to realize the meaning of the awakening that has provided a national compass with which we can change our path, [directing it] far away from the illusions of negotiations and false peace. The official leadership did not take advantage of this historic moment, continuing to march in place and repeat the same discourse and [use] the same tools, disconnected from the masses that took the first step to correct the path … and to bring the Palestinian cause back to the center of attention, in the shadow of the dramatic events in the Arab arena that have overshadowed the problem of Palestine.
Barghouti wrote that it was “inconceivable” that Palestinian security agencies continued coordination with the “occupation authorities … while at the same time we are claiming to be a liberation movement that is fighting this occupation.”
Painting himself as a liberal, Barghouti called on Palestinian society to “advance … women, young people, and [personal] freedoms.”
He called for a new social structure in which “women – 50 percent of society – are completely equal partners, and in which young men and women participate.” This, Barghouti wrote, was necessary in order to “adopt the principle of comprehensive resistance to the occupation and to the entire Zionist colonialist plan.”
Barghouti warned that the political “vacuum,” as he defined it, left by the PA in failing to embrace the wave of attacks could push the Palestinians toward the “takfiri trend” sweeping the Arab world, referring to Islamic State and other religiously-based terror groups.
“This ideology is spreading like wildfire, especially among the circles of young people,” Barghouti wrote. He claimed Israel had an interest in “driving a wedge between the struggle to liberate Palestine and the democratic and progressive forces worldwide that support this struggle” by creating an “ostensible symmetry between legitimate resistance and takfiri terrorism.”
Barghouti was convicted on five counts of murder and one of attempted murder in 2004 and sentenced to five life sentences for the murders and an additional 40 years for the attempted murder.
All crimes were carried out by terror cells from the Palestinian Tanzim youth movement, of which Barghouti was the leader.
He was acquitted of 32 other murders carried out by cells of Tanzim terrorists.
Palestinians championing Barghouti as a possible heir to Abbas have characterized him as a “Palestinian Mandela” leading his people from prison.