Jailed Palestinian leader blasts UN statehood bid

Fatah member Marwan Barghouti calls for comprehensive rewording of document, emphasis on Palestinian prisoners

Fatah terror chief Marwan Barghouti, serving five life terms for murder during the Second Intifada, appears in a Jerusalem court, January 25, 2012. (Flash90)
Fatah terror chief Marwan Barghouti, serving five life terms for murder during the Second Intifada, appears in a Jerusalem court, January 25, 2012. (Flash90)

Jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti sharply criticized the Palestinian Authority on Monday and called to reword the bid submitted to the UN requesting recognition of a state and an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines by 2017.

In a letter sent from Israeli prison, Barghouti said he supported the unilateral move to go to the UN but slammed the current bid as an “unjustified fallback which will have a very negative impact on the Palestinian position,” Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported.

The senior Fatah leader said any mention of land swaps with Israel must be removed and that the bid should focus on the major issues of settlement expansion, Jerusalem, and the blockade on Gaza.

“We must stop negotiating with ourselves uselessly,” he added.

Barghouti also said the Palestinian prisoners issue should take central place in the document.

“Though the issue of prisoners isn’t part of the final status core issues, it should be confirmed in any resolution that freeing all prisoners is an absolute right and a precondition for peace,” he wrote.

Barghouti called for the establishment of east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian in state and insisted the document uphold the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

The Palestinian Authority indicated that it will push for a vote on the bid “in the next few days,” refusing to hold off until after Israeli elections, set for March 17.

Last month, the jailed leader was placed in solitary confinement for a week after publishing a letter calling for a return to “armed resistance” against Israel, according to a Palestinian NGO.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Prisoners’ Club said in a statement that Barghouti had been placed in solitary as a “punishment” for a letter on the 10th anniversary of the death of veteran Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

A spokesman for the Israel Prisons Service confirmed Barghouti had been placed in solitary but said it was because he had given interviews to the press.

In the letter, Barghouti said “choosing global and armed resistance” was being “faithful to Arafat’s legacy, his ideas and his principles.” He also urged the Palestinian leadership to “put an immediate end to security cooperation” with Israel.

Barghouti, who is widely believed to have masterminded the 2000-2005 second Palestinian intifada, wrote the letter from his cell in Hadarim prison where he is serving five life sentences for murderous terror attacks.

A senior figure within the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Barghouti was arrested in 2002 and sentenced two years later.

Since his conviction, Barghouti has since said he never supported attacks on civilians inside Israel.

He still wields huge influence from inside prison and is considered the only serious challenger to Abbas as president, with surveys regularly naming him as the favorite to win elections should he be released from jail.

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