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Jailed Fatah leader says peace process 'dead'

Jan. 3, 2012 6:20 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 5, 2012 10:54 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi said on Tuesday the movement should focus on building and reforming Palestinian institutions and peaceful resistance, as the peace process has failed.

In a letter penned in jail to the Palestinian people, commemorating his Fatah party's 47th anniversary, Barghouthi said peace negotiations with Israel are finished, "and there is no point to make desperate attempts to breathe life into a dead body."

His comments come as PLO official Saeb Erekat in is the Jordanian capital for talks with Israeli delegate Yitzhak Molcho and representatives of the international Quartet, which President Mahmoud Abbas says he hopes will lead to an Israeli settlement freeze and pave the way to negotiations.

Barghouthi, convicted by an Israeli court for masterminding the second Palestinian uprising in 2000, was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council while serving five consecutive life terms, and was touted as a presidential candidate in 2005.

A long-time champion of reconciliation with rival faction Hamas, he called in the Tuesday letter for acceleration of reform and development of the PLO, the umbrella body Hamas said it will join after unity talks.

He heralded the May 2011 unity deal, and called on all factions to seriously implement its terms. Palestinians must hold national council, presidential and legislative elections amid unity, he said.

The Palestinian leadership and factions must also reconcile with the Palestinian people, because it is not enough to have reconciliation between the factions only, he added.

Calling for 2012 to be considered the year of peaceful popular resistance, he urged an international and Palestinian boycott of Israeli goods.

Leaders of the Arab revolutions should set new policies towards Palestine, Barghouthi wrote, by supporting the unity of the Palestinian people and democracy in Palestine.

Fatah members should be at the helm of popular resistance, the party leader continued.

"Fatah has been in a position of leadership since the beginning of the Palestinian revolution, the leadership in PLO, the establishment of the PA, and the two intifadas, and should be in the leadership of the peaceful popular resistance now," he wrote.

Barghouthi also expressed his support for the Palestinian bid for membership of the UN, and urged the Palestinian Authority to remain intact in order to be the basis for the government of an independent Palestine.

The PA should review its operations to increase "national steadfastness" against Israeli settlements, he wrote, adding that the government should support the nonviolent resistance, abandon all forms of cooperation with Israel, support Palestinians economically and expand the popular committees.

Calling Hamas' deal to exchange a captured Israeli soldier for 1,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails a "national achievement," he said the PLO and PA should set a national strategy to release all Palestinians from Israeli custody.

A total of 4,937 Palestinians are being detained by Israel, according to latest figures collected by prisoners' group Addameer.
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