Monday, November 08, 2004

Latest on Barghouti

Among other things, Daoud Kuttab is a Palestinian journalist and director of the Institute of Modern Media at Al-Quds University in Ramallah. He is also a regular columnist for the Jerusalem Post, and yesterday he posted "Succession Politics," which included the following:

My barber, Abu Salah, couldn't wait for me to come to his shop. He was very concerned this week, searching hard in his mind for a solution to what he felt was a complicated problem: How Marwan Barghouti can be sprung from an Israeli jail.

Abu Salah felt relieved when I explained that Hizbullah could answer his question.

The Lebanese resistance group still has bodies of Israeli soldiers that they could trade with the Israelis for the remaining Lebanese hostage, as well as some Palestinian prisoners, possibly Barghouti.

The long-shot hope many pin on Barghouti is not limited to my barber. After enquiring about the health of their president, it was the Palestinian succession crisis that was on the lips of many Palestinians inside and outside the occupied territories. ...

Internal elections within Fatah was one of the processes Barghouti believed in and was trying so hard to implement when the Israelis arrested him. As a street leader elected to head the Bir Zeit University student council he gained his own legitimacy through being chosen by his peers.

When the Oslo process began he refused to accept any official position within the Palestinian Authority, choosing instead to remain close to the local Fatah cadres.

So far, the Palestinian leadership and institutions seem to have been able to present a unified position. Nevertheless, the issue of succession will now take a front seat whatever happens to the Palestinian president.

While Qurei and Abbas, who came from Tunis with the PLO, dominate the headlines as possible successors, the local leaders will want a much bigger say in decisions affecting the Palestinian cause.

No wonder people like my barber are mentioning the young leaders who struggled in the first and second intifadas in Palestine rather than some of the leaders who were connected with the original PLO struggle abroad.

No doubt there will be more in the next few days. We'll keep in touch.