Uri Avnery writes that imprisoned Marwan Barghouti is the “Palestinian Mandela“:
The division of the Palestinian territories into a “Hamastan” in the Gaza Strip and a “Fatahland” in the West Bank is a disaster.
A disaster for the Palestinians, a disaster for peace, and therefore also a disaster for Israelis.
The Israeli political and military leadership is happy about the split, according to the doctrine “What’s bad for Palestine is good for Israel”. This doctrine has guided Zionist policy right from the beginning. Haim Arlosoroff, the Zionist leader who was murdered by hands unknown on the seashore of Tel-Aviv in 1933, already condemned this doctrine in his last speech: “Not everything that is bad for the Arabs is good for the Jews, and not everything that is good for the Arabs is bad for the Jews.”
Will the Palestinians overcome this split?
It seems that the chances for that are getting smaller by the day. The gulf between the two parties is getting wider and wider.
The Fatah people in the West Bank, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, condemn Hamas as a gang of fanatics, who are imitating Iran and are guided by it, and who, like the Ayatollahs, are leading their people towards catastrophe.
The Hamas people accuse Abbas of being a Palestinian Marshal Petain, who has made a deal with the occupier and is sliding down the slippery slope of collaboration.
The propaganda of both sides is full of venom, and the mutual violence is reaching new heights.
It looks like a cul-de-sac. Many Palestinians have despaired of finding a way out. Others are searching for creative solutions. Afif Safieh, the chief of the PLO mission in Washington, for example, proposes setting up a Palestinian government composed entirely of neutral experts, who are neither members of Fatah nor of Hamas. The chances for that are very slim indeed.
But in private conversations in Ramallah, one name pops up more and more often: Marwan Barghouti.
“He holds the key in his hand,” they say there, “both for the Fatah-Hamas and for the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts.”
Some see Marwan as the Palestinian Nelson Mandela.
Of course, Israel’s leadership doesn’t want peace (and the Palestinian Authority appear incapable of much, either).