Barghouti tells Abbas: Stand firm, Trump and his peace plan will soon be gone

On the 16th anniversary of his arrest for his role in killing 5 Israelis, the jailed Palestinian uprising leader calls for continued resistance against Israel

Khaled Abu Toameh is the Palestinian Affairs correspondent for The Times of Israel

A Palestinian runs past a poster bearing a portrait of convicted terrorist and prominent Palestinian prisoner Marwan Barghouti in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 3, 2017. (AFP/ ABBAS MOMANI)
A Palestinian runs past a poster bearing a portrait of convicted terrorist and prominent Palestinian prisoner Marwan Barghouti in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 3, 2017. (AFP/ ABBAS MOMANI)

Jailed Palestinian uprising leader Marwan Barghouti on Sunday told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to stand firm in his rejection of US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced peace plan, saying that Trump would be soon be gone.

In a message released from his prison cell to his supporters on the 16th anniversary of his arrest by the IDF, Barghouti voiced his full support for Abbas’s rejection of the “conspiracy of the century,” a reference to Trump’s “deal of the century” peace plan, which has still not been made public.

Barghouti, who is in prison serving five life sentences for his role in deadly terror attacks on Israelis in the Second Intifada, is hugely popular among the Palestinians and is seen as a possible successor to Abbas.

Barghouti said he also supported Abbas in the face of “international, regional and Israeli pressure.”

Marwan Barghouti, file photo (Flash90)

Abbas has repeatedly dismissed the long-promised plan as a “conspiracy aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause and national rights.” It comes amid growing Palestinian anger following a decision by Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Abbas has reportedly faced intense pressure from Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Egypt to accept the terms of Trump’s plan. The US has also cut funding from the Palestinians in the wake of their boycott of US officials.

But Barghouti urged Palestinian leaders to stand firm, saying that Trump would soon be gone.

“We also need to realize that Trump will be gone in a year or five years, but Jerusalem, Palestine and its people will remain and will pursue their resistance and struggle against the Zionist colonialism,” he said.

Barghouti also expressed support for the Palestinians’ “right to resist Israeli colonialism in all forms and methods,” an apparent reference to armed attacks. However, he said these should be limited to the “1967 occupied territories,” East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, which Israel captured in the Six Day War.

He also said that the Palestinian “struggle” should focus on supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), Jerusalem and its Arab residents, and the Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons.

The full text of the message was published by the Palestine News Network.

Barghouti, who was elected as a Fatah member of the Palestinian Legislative Council in 1996, was sentenced to five life sentences for his role in terror attacks on Israeli civilian and military targets during the Second Intifada. Last year he led a weeks-long hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners demanding better conditions.

Palestinian activists stand around a 5×4 meter (16.5×13 feet) mosaic portrait of Marwan Barghouti near an Israeli military installation in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)

He criticized Abbas’s handling of internal Palestinian politics, particularly the foundering reconciliation deal with the Hamas terror group that rules the Gaza Strip.

Barghouti urged Abbas to “take decisive steps to put the Palestinian house in order, unify the Palestinian people, restore democracy and form a Palestinian unity government that would prepare for holding new elections and lead efforts to rebuild the Gaza Strip.”

Barghouti called for convening national conference for comprehensive dialogue with the participation of all Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He also called for including the two terror groups in the PLO.

The jailed Fatah leader called on the Palestinian leadership not to negotiate with any Israeli government unless it commits to the “principle of ending the occupation and withdrawing to the 1967 borders, and recognizes the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and the establishment of a sovereign and independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

He also urged Palestinians to participate in the so-called March of Return organized by Hamas and other Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip.

The last three weeks have seen mass protests along the border between Gaza and Israel, the so-called “March of Return” demonstrations, which Hamas leaders say ultimately aim to see the removal of the border and the liberation of Palestine.

Palestinians prepare to set fire on an Israeli flag and portraits of US President Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a protest at the border fence with Israel, east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza city, on April 13, 2018.(AFP PHOTO / Thomas COEX)

On Friday some 10,000 Palestinians took part. The week before about 20,000 Palestinians demonstrated along the Gaza border in what Israel has described as a riot orchestrated by Hamas, and what Palestinians say was supposed to be a peaceful protest. The previous week there were an estimated 30,000 protesters.

Thirty-four Palestinians have been killed and thousands wounded by Israeli forces since March 30, according to the Hamas-run interior ministry in Gaza.

Israel says its forces have opened fire to stop attempts to harm soldiers, damage the fence, infiltrate Israel, and attempt to carry out attacks. Israel has accused Hamas of trying to carry out border attacks under the cover of large protests and says it will prevent a breach of the fence at all costs. Palestinians say protesters are being shot while posing no threat to soldiers.

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