Looks like the Israelis do not want to release Barghouti, or at least so says Avi Dichter, the Israeli “Security Minister”:
“Barghouti is certainly a prominent figure in Fatah and in the West Bank, and maybe also in general Palestinian society. But this man built his status on our backs and with our blood”.
Besides the usual bizarre “blood thing” which seems to affect so many Israelis, the man has got a good point: Barghouti certainly has a long track of fighting Israel. Moreover, Dichter added that Barghouti could not be released “as part of an experiment where we will say ‘maybe it will help and maybe it won’t”. Again – I can only agree with him: it is unclear whose bidding Barghouti would do if freed. At least Abbas is a puppet in the Karzai/Siniora mold, whereas Barghouti could prove a far more independent figure. And that is precisely why the Israelis should release him: because he has credibility, because he is popular, because he has the stature to negotiate with all the parties involved.
The fact that Dichter finds this as a reason not to release him simply shows that the Israelis are not interested in serious negotiations.
So what’s next?
As Tony Karon explained it so well on his blog, the “Abbastan plan” is based on a fundamental series of fallacies and has no chance of succeeding. The Israelis probably understand that. In fact, some are already preparing for phase two which is to blame its failure one somebody else: Iran and Syria (under this scenario, Syria is really an Iranian pawn in the hands of Iran). Here is how this logic works:
Everything in the Middle East is connected. (…) With the Hamas takeover of Gaza, we have growing evidence that fundamentalist Muslim groups in the territory are funded by Syria and Iran. We do the best we can to maintain legitimate authorities in the Middle East, but the radical Islamic movement, backed by Syrian compliance and Iranian funding, will stop at nothing to achieve its goals. It is important, when focusing specifically on one particular country or situation, to remember how increasingly connected the region is becoming and to keep in mind the powers supporting the destabilization agenda. (…) The US, Israel and Europe will continue to support the Lebanese government’s authority, because it has no other option. If they were to stop, Lebanon would easily become another Gaza. (…)
Typical Neocon kind of logic: since Hamas took over Gaza, Iran and Syria simply must be involved. Anyone the Empire supports is “maintain legitimate authorities”, what the other side does is “stopping at nothing to achieve its goals”. Should any country or region slip away from Imperial control, Syria and, even more so, Iran should be held responsible. If the Imperial High Commands lets go of Lebanon it will become another Gaza (which makes sense as in both cases the “wrong” party has been democratically elected, in the former Hezbollah, in the latter Hamas).
“Blame it all on Iran” is clearly at the core of this strategy. Hence Netanyahu’s trip to the USA to talk to US Presidential candidates to get US support on an even more hysterically anti-Iranian policy.