Analysis: Barghouti's message challenges PA

Palestinian prisoner's message to PA leadership not so different than those made by Abbas's critics, rivals in Hamas.

Barghouti before entering courtroom 390 (photo credit: Ammar Awad/Reuters)
Barghouti before entering courtroom 390
(photo credit: Ammar Awad/Reuters)
Marwan Barghouti’s message to the Palestinians on the 10th anniversary of his incarceration is directed more against the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah than Israel.
Apart from calling for a “large-scale popular resistance” against Israel, Barghouti’s message included a call to the PA leadership to cut off security and economic ties with Israel, to combat financial corruption and to renew its efforts to achieve unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN.
In many ways, Barghouti’s message to the PA leadership is similar to demands made by PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s critics and rivals in Hamas.
criticism from many Palestinians for its continued security coordination with Israel and the failure to fight against icons of corruption among the top brass of the Palestinian leadership.
The PA has also been criticized for “succumbing” to Israeli and US pressure to abandon plans to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state.
Barghouti’s criticism of the PA leadership could mark the beginning of a revolt against Abbas and the old guard in Fatah.
Barghouti, 52, is viewed as a representative of Fatah’s young guard – the grassroots leaders from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – while Abbas, who turned 77 on Monday, represents veteran PLO leaders who moved from Tunisia to the West Bank and the Strip after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.
Barghouti and his young guard colleagues have long been complaining that the “Tunisians” have taken control of the PA, denying them high positions and a say in decisionmaking.
But Barghouti’s criticism of the PA leadership also reflects his growing frustration with Abbas for not doing enough – or anything – to secure his release from Israeli prison.
The feeling among many of Barghouti’s supporters is that the PA leadership would, in fact, prefer to see Barghouti remain behind bars because of the challenge he may pose to Abbas’s exclusive control over the PA.
Reflecting these sentiments, Barghouti’s wife, Fadwa, recently complained that the PA leadership had instructed its media outlets to ignore news about the popular Fatah leader.
It remains to be seen whether Barghouti’s open challenge to the PA leadership will gain momentum. Judging from the reactions of many Fatah members in the West Bank, Barghouti’s criticism does not seem to have fallen on deaf ears.