Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Fateh infighting

Despite attempts by senior PA officials to act as though everything is running smoothly in the absence of Yasir Arafat, there is no ignoring the fact that those rifts that existed before Arafat's death are not simply going to disappear. Evidence of this is the most recent news that the al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade has refused to endorse Abu Mazin and is instead endorsing Marwan Barghouti in the upcoming presidential elections.
The Palestinian resistance group Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has said it is opposed to Mahmud Abbas as Yasir Arafat's successor and will instead back jailed West Bank Fatah leader Marwan al-Barghuthi.

A spokesman said: "We do not support Abu Mazin [Abbas] for the election and we have decided to vote for Marwan Barghuthi to be our candidate for president."
The evidence in the rift is not only that the more militant constituents of Fateh would prefer Barghouti to Abu Mazin, but that, actually, Barghouti is much more popular in general than is Abu Mazin.
A poll conducted last month said al-Barghuthi was the second most popular choice for Palestinian Authority president trailing Arafat, who died on 11 November in a Paris hospital.
Even if Abu Mazin is elected, if there is only a small percentage of popular support for him, and even his own party is divided in its support, there will undoubtedly be difficulties in maintaining the Palestinian Authority as any kind of legitimate government with a popular mandate. And given how mandates are all the rage these days, I think this will be important.

UPDATE:The following text will be part of a Gush Shalom ad to be published in the November 19, 2004, issue of Ha'aretz:

Yitzhak Rabin
-was, under the British Mandate, the leader of the prisoners in Rafah prison camp.

Yitzhak Shamir
-was arrested as a terrorist and exiled to a prison camp in Erithrea.

Menahem Begin
-was branded as a terrorist with a big prize on his head and blood on his hands, after he blew up the King David hotel in Jerusalem with a hundred civilian dead.

All three became later Prime Ministers of Israel and were ceremoniously received by Britain, their former enemy.

Among the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons are the future leaders of the Palestinian nation. Marwan Barghouti is only the most famous of them.

It is in Israel's interest to release and allow them to take part in the Palestinian elections.

Only those who are accepted by their people as freedom fighters will be able to convince them that peace is necessary.
I'm sure there are many Israelis who will not appreciate the comparison of Rabin, Shamir, and Begin to Marwan Barghouti. Oh well, that's life.

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