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Jailed Fatah leader: Streets must demand reconciliation

Jan. 6, 2013 10:41 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 7, 2013 1:40 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti said Sunday that mass popular protests should be held to force political leaders from his party and Hamas to reconcile.

In an interview from his cell, distributed by his political office, Barghouti called for a "Palestinian spring" to end the five-year division into separate West Bank and Gaza governments.

"Youth of all persuasions in the West Bank, Gaza, and Diaspora should hold sit-ins in front of party headquarters until the split is ended," he said.

Barghouti was a signatory of the 2006 "Prisoners Document" -- in which jailed faction leaders set out a joint program for national independence.

The Fatah leader on Sunday said another such initiative was not what is needed, but rather political will to reconcile. However, he said there were ongoing talks among prisoners over possible steps, including an open hunger strike for reconciliation.

"Neither history, nor the people, nor martyrs, or prisoners of any party, will forgive any leader who puts obstacles in the way of national reconciliation," Barghouti said.

He insisted that the Palestinian Authority should not be folded in light of the absence of negotiations, but rather redefine its political program to ensure it is fully in the national interest, not to protect Israel and its settlement enterprise.

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.
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