Barghouti has something Abbas never will: Respect on “the street,” with Hamas leaders and among the political elite.
From his prison cell, Barghouti has worked to establish himself as a diplomat. He routinely issues statements calling for Palestinian unity. He helped draft a platform signed by prisoners across the political spectrum that helped lay the groundwork for the now-fractured PA unity government. And politicians regularly seek his advice and counsell.
But he has never been tested as a politician on the world stage, and there are serious doubts about Barghouti’s abilities as a diplomat and negotiator.
Still, the options are limited. Fatah’s old leadership is largely discredited and viewed as corrupt. Barghouti represents the new guard that has a chance to start with a cleaner slate.
When Israel thought it was in its interests, it has freed people like Barghouti before. The fact that the idea is being floated again suggests that Israeli leaders understand that the idea of freeing Barghouti should be in play. [complete article]
Israel should stop work on a security barrier in and along the West Bank and halt settlement activity there as a good-will gesture to assure Arab states that it is serious about comprehensive peace talks, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said yesterday.
The minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, stopped short of making his demand a condition for Arab attendance at a planned Middle East peace conference. And he said that in recent days, he had become encouraged about the prospects for the conference, which the United States is to sponsor in November. But he would not promise that Saudi Arabia would attend, a major Israeli objective. [complete article]
The Israeli military killed three Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, bringing to 12 the death toll in one of the bloodiest 24 hours in the Hamas-run territory in recent months.
The escalation, in which another 21 people were wounded, followed a warning by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak that the clock was ticking down to a widescale military operation in Gaza aimed at curbing near daily rocket fire. [complete article]