Now, more than ever, Palestinians need Barghouti.
But Israel needs Barghouti as well. He is the key to the future of the two-state solution, and therefore, to an Israel which is democratic without qualification, peaceable without biennial war, demographically Jewish without apartheid, a true neighbor to its neighbors – for once, a full member of the community of nations, economically, diplomatically, and, on the level of one-on-one human interaction.
Israeli leaders who have worked with Barghouti – even some who had him arrested and nearly assassinated – know the potential value to a future peace of his political skills, his standing and charisma among Palestinians, his work on behalf of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in the past.
The senior Israeli security and government officials who have lobbied for Barghouti’s release include former senior Shin Bet official and ex-public security minister Gideon Ezra, and cabinet minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who served as defense minister under Ariel Sharon during the second intifada. [continued…]
Palestinian security forces in the West Bank have stopped torturing Hamas prisoners, ending two years of systematic abuse, Hamas inmates said in jailhouse interviews.
The change in practice, said to have taken effect in October, was confirmed by a West Bank Hamas leader, human rights activists and the Palestinian prime minister. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the decision to halt any abuse was part of an effort to make sure a future state is built on the right foundations.
Hamas legislators and human rights researchers said the worst behavior — prisoners beaten with clubs and cables; suspended from the ceiling while tied up in painful positions; and forced to stand for days — had ended.
But they said they still received sporadic reports of prisoners being slapped or forced to stand for several hours during interrogations. And security forces often arrest Hamas activists and hold them for lengthy periods without charge. [continued…]