Palestinian politician Marwan Barghouti, who’s seen because the chief of the First and Second Intifada, is serving 5 life sentences in an Israeli jail. His intention to run for president within the upcoming Palestinian elections has shaken the Palestinian political scene. If he runs and wins, as latest polls have advised he would possibly, his victory may reshape the Palestinian trigger with nice implications for the Israeli occupation.
Predictably, Barghouti is going through a stiff opposition from the octogenarian President Mahmoud Abbas, who’s planning a rerun, and from his clique of loyalists within the Fatah celebration, who’ve been working the Palestinian Authority for over 20 years.
They’ve been attempting to dissuade Barghouti from working, as they did the final time round, however to no avail. The favored 61-year-old appears adamant, as this can be his final probability to step up and restore the revolutionary zeal to the Palestinian trigger.
Barghouti’s detractors, nevertheless, declare that he could also be pushed by private not revolutionary motives in searching for to win the presidency, as which will safe his launch from jail.
That is wealthy coming from those that for years have benefitted from working the Palestinian Authority and its safety companies, whereas the remainder of the Palestinians have suffered beneath occupation.
Nonetheless, no matter his causes and their motives, the concept of a long-serving Palestinian political prisoner being elected president is a particular game-changer for Palestine and Israel.
Symbolically, nothing represents the bitter Palestinian actuality beneath occupation greater than the hundreds of political prisoners languishing in Israeli jails. And nothing personifies the battle for liberty greater than the likes of Barghouti, who spent a lot of his grownup life in an Israeli jail or in exile, together with the previous 19 years.
Through the a long time of the so-called “peace course of”, the Palestinians have been advised to carry elections as a strategy to nurture democracy and pave the best way for independence.
They did, however in return, they obtained extra occupation, extra unlawful settlement, extra repression and, sure, extra division.
Certainly, after greater than 70 years of occupation and dispossession, Palestine stays a prisoner of its Israeli jailor.
That’s the reason within the absence of sovereignty and independence, holding elections within the shadow of occupation is not any democracy; it’s a contest amongst inmates over the administration and, at finest, enchancment of their incarceration.
Therefore, politically talking, future elections ought to goal to overturn the established order, not extend it.
However that requires a brand new youthful and bolder management to interchange the outdated and jaded one which has failed to achieve liberty and justice for the Palestinians.
If Barghouti and his multiplying supporters characterize change, Abbas and his lieutenants have come to characterize political stalemate and the marginalisation of the Palestinian query.
It’s maybe lengthy overdue for Abbas to step apart, not solely due to his outdated age and poor well being, but in addition as a result of his political and diplomatic mission has reached a lifeless finish.
It failed to attain liberation and independence and did not cease the unlawful Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land from multiplying and increasing since Abbas signed the Oslo Accords in 1993.
He could also be hopeful about reviving the “peace course of”, with the arrival of the Biden administration, however that lopsided course of is destined to supply extra political paralysis within the absence of a brand new in style technique that pressures Israel to rethink its place.
Diplomacy displays the stability of energy; it doesn’t change it.
The tenacious Abbas might have performed all he may, however he did not safeguard Palestinian unity. It was beneath his watch that the Palestinians witnessed the worst, most violent break up of their historical past after the 2006 elections, which resulted in Fatah ruling over the Palestinians within the West Financial institution and the Islamist Hamas ruling over Gaza, till today.
Final however not least, Abbas has already served 16 years as president, though he was elected in 2005 for a four-year time period solely.
All of this begs the query: Why would the 85-year-old Abbas insist on working but once more, when various youthful and skilled Palestinians are prepared and capable of lead?
Clearly, the Palestinian political regime suffers from the identical illness that has lengthy plagued Arab regimes all through the area. It’s no coincidence Abbas has vehemently opposed the Arab Spring since its inception.
However in contrast to different Arab international locations, Palestine suffers from each autocracy and dictatorship, in any other case recognized amongst Palestinians as Israeli settler colonial occupation.
For this reason a change of management is pressing and the candidacy of a political prisoner like Barghouti is very engaging to so many Palestinians.
However what if Barghouti does run and win? How would he lead from an Israeli jail?
When it comes to on a regular basis life, it’s the prime minister who’s tasked with managing the Palestinian Authority, and Barghouti may appoint any one of many ready Palestinian parliamentarians to steer his authorities.
When it comes to the nationwide trigger, Israel, the US and others will finally must cope with him straight in jail, highlighting the cruel actuality of the Palestinian trigger, or be compelled to launch him, which might be a win for the Palestinians.
Palestinian consensus round their very personal Nelson Mandela is bound to underline the unmistaken parallel with apartheid South Africa rising variety of Israelis, Individuals, and South Africans have already recognised.
In truth, apartheid was formally instituted in South Africa in 1948, the yr Israel was based on the ruins of Palestine. However when it was lastly dismantled when Mandela turned president in Could 1994, apartheid took maintain in Palestine, as Israel used the Oslo Accords of Palestinian “self-rule” to institutionalise segregation and divide Palestine into Bantustans, all “within the identify of peace”.
Many Israelis believed in that kind of peace and could also be indignant on the prospect of coping with a political prisoner convicted, pretty or unfairly, on fees of masterminding assaults towards Israelis.
However Israeli leaders know higher. With a lot Palestinian blood on their fingers, they’re the final to guage this freedom fighter for his report of resistance towards the occupation.
For a few years, apartheid South Africans additionally deemed Mandela and the African Nationwide Congress (ANC) “terrorists” and saboteurs. Mandela himself was not taken off of the US “terrorism” watch record till 2008.
However when South Africa got here beneath worldwide strain and its chief, President FW de Klerk, confirmed the required knowledge to launch the ANC chief, Mandela turned a suitable and credible interlocutor in a single day.
Nevertheless it was not solely Mandela: many freedom fighters, who have been accused of terrorism for preventing colonialism, turned revered statesmen after independence. Their worthiness was measured solely by the worthiness of their trigger.
Barghouti, who’s fluent in Hebrew and even supported the Oslo Accords till he turned disillusioned, identical to Mandela, additionally believes in peaceable coexistence based mostly on freedom, justice and equality.
The Palestinian individuals are able to current the world with their very own Mandela. However is the world able to strain Israel, because it pressured apartheid South Africa, to supply its personal de Klerk?