By Ramzy Baroud
Last week Marwan Barghouti, the prominent Palestinian political prisoner and Fatah leader, called on Palestinians to launch a 'large-scale popular resistance' which would 'serve the cause of our people.'
The message was widely disseminated as it coincided with Land Day, an event that has unified Palestinians since March 1976. Its meaning has morphed through the years to represent the collective grievances shared by most Palestinians, including dispossession from their land as a result of Israeli occupation.
Barghouti is also a unifying figure among Palestinians. Even at the height of the Hamas-Fatah clashes in 2007, he insisted on unity and shunned factionalism. It is no secret that Barghouti is still a very popular figure in Fatah, to the displeasure of various Fatah leaders, not least Mahmoud Abbas, who heads both the Palestinian Authority and Fatah.. Throughout its indirect prisoners exchange talks with Israel, Hamas insisted on Barghouti’s release. Israel, which had officially charged and imprisoned Barghouti in 2004 for five alleged counts of murder – but more likely because of his leading role in the Second Palestinian Intifada - insisted otherwise.
Israel held onto Barghouti largely because of his broad appeal among Palestinians. In late 2009, he told Milan-based Corriere Della Sera that “the main issue topping his agenda currently is achieving unity between rival Palestinian factions” (as quoted in Haaretz, November 25, 2009). More, he claimed that following a unity deal he would be ready to submit candidacy for Palestinian presidency. Barghouti, is, of course, still in prison. Although a unity deal has been signed, it is yet to be actualized. READ MORE