Free Marwan Barghouti?

(See here) an Associated Press piece that appears at the Jerusalem Post's website that reports some Israeli politicians are starting to advocate the freeing of Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti.

Most objections to his being freed are based upon his conviction by Israeli courts of having engaged in terrorism which resulted in the deaths of Israeli citizens. You can sample some of these objections by scanning the talkback posts that accompany the article.

While I understand the stated objections, I wonder why there should be any more objection to Marwan Barghouti being freed, and Israel engaging in negotiations with him in order to resolve the conflict, then there was to Israel negotiating with Yassar Arafat.

Personally, it was my opinion that opportunity was lost when Israel allowed Yassar Arafat to expire without having engaged with him with reasonable negotiations where he should have been presented a more reasonable offer to resolve the conflict. Yassar Arafat was the one Palestinian who, if he had signed his name to a resolution, would have been viewed as being a legitimate representative of Palestinian interests in the negotiations.

Despite what some right wing Israelis like to claim, I will state that (in my opinion at least) Yassar Arafat was never presented a reasonable offer.

Now Yassar Arafat is deceased, and Hamas has risen to power. Quite an improvement isn't it? (Yes that was sarcastic.)

Please note that the release of Barghouti is being considered, by some, as a step towards propping up Mahmoud Abbas. My own hope would be that the release would not just result in propping up Abbas but that it would lead to Barghouti replacing Abbas.

I understand the reluctance by some Israelis to even consider the release of Marwan Barghouti and allowing him to represent Palestinians in peace negotiations. However such representation of a people by those with histories that some might describe as objectionable is not without precedent. Consider these examples:

1. Harry Truman continuing to serve as President of the United States after having authorized the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

2. Dwight D Eisenhower being elected as President of the United States after authorizing the firebombing of German cities.

3. Ariel Sharon serving as Israeli Prime Minister even after his earlier dismissal as Defense Minister for failure to prevent (perhaps encouraging?) the Sabra and Shatila Massacre. It is notable that Sharon earned the nickname "Bulldozer" for his leadership during actions while serving in the Israeli military.

It is my belief that some type of resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be reached through negotiations. It is my opinion that Marwan Barghouti might best serve as the leader of those who would represent the Palestinian side in such negotiations.

Free Marwan Barghouti, and let the negotiations begin!


Blogger Alan Joseph said...


Your points are very good, but there is one difference. Marwan Barghouti has made it clear that violence against civilians is a legitimate means for continuing his political agenda. His release will lead to more civilian casualties, something that would be avoidable were he left in jail. Below is an excerpt from the indictment of a terrorist who sent a bomber who blew up three feet behind myself and my son (both of us American citizens). Barghouti's release will bring only more of the same.

17. On 20 March 2002, Nasser Shawish met in Ramallah with the head of the “Tanzim” of Fatah in the region, Marwan Barghouti. Nasser Shawish passed along to Marwan Barghouti that the accused was ready to send a suicide bomber for the purpose of performing a suicide attack inside the State of Israel. Marwan Barghouti asked to know if the accused and Nasser Shawish needed anything for the purpose of carrying out the planned attack. Though he was answered in the negative, Marwan Barghouti gave Shawish the amount of 600 dollars American.

2/07/2007 05:27:00 AM  
Blogger Little David said...

Do you really think the release of Marwan Barghouti will result in "more" civilian deaths?

Seems to me there have been plenty of civilian deaths (on both sides) while he has been imprisoned. I doubt his release would result in a sudden increase in violence. Perhaps if his release was accompanied by evidence of Israel's willingness to engage in serious, reasonable negotiations, it might lessen violence (although I wonder if even Marwan Barghouti could control Hamas and Islamic Jihad extremists).

If his release resulted in MORE violence, and this was discovered to be as a result of his leadership, Israel could always resort to another targeted missile attack. Israel would, however, have to show some restraint and not assasinate him if he proved difficult during negotiations.

2/07/2007 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger Alan Joseph said...


His release will certainly lead to more civilian deaths. If you look at the "prisoners document" that he authored, there is no mention of the State of Israel and violence against civilians ("resistance") is specifically encouraged in securing a full Palestine from sea to river. You see the two-state solution assumes that '48 was okay and '67 was bad. All Palestinians see the '67 war as bad but virtually all also reject the '48 partition. Both Hamas and Fatah want the whole thing, Hamas says so and Fatah tells the foreigners that it wants two states. Read some of its internal material (such as Abu Mazen telling his followers to turn the guns on Israeli occupation--all of two weeks after Israel gave him 2,000 more rifles). No, Barghouti showed no remorse for his actions and will continue on his ways. People are deluding themselves if they feel otherwise (why doesn't Israel negotiate with him now while he is in prison?).

Best, AB

2/07/2007 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger Little David said...

Well, then let us also stifle and throw in prison some of the Israeli right wing extremists who will give voice to, and vote for, never giving up Judea and Samaria, which is part of the "promised land". They too will never agree to Israel drawing back to the Green Line. Do not tell me that they do not exist, and do not attempt to tell me that they (many of whom are settlers within Judea and Samaria) do not themselves engage in despicable conduct involving harm to Palestinian civilians.

Now, I do not wish to engage in a one sided debate. It is my opinion that the Palestinian side does seem to engage in more activities that should be condemned. However it is not true that "our side" never engages in conduct that is worthy of criticism.

As for why Israel does not engage in negotiations with Barghouti while he is in prison? Even with his release he is apt to face questioning voices that will state the only reason he was released is because he is an Israeli puppet. Certainly he will be unable to gain any traction while he remains imprisoned.

If Israel really is willing to settle for "two states" as a solution, then let her prove this by being willing to offer to the Palestinians their own state that at least has the chance of success. Let Israel honestly and reasonably be willing to negotiate and settle on the many issues that would need to be taken into consideration. Issues such as water rights and contiguous borders to name only a couple.

2/07/2007 09:05:00 AM  

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