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Eli Lake

Signing the Wye River Accord and being the first Israeli prime minister to link settlement construction to Palestinian participation in Oslo talks would also count as bold steps to peace.

Steve Maher

I'm no Hamas supporter, but they DO in fact still care about national liberation. Bargouthi is a leader who has built up a strong rapport with Hamas, Fatah, and the other factions, as exhibited by his hand in the Prisoner's Document of 2006 (which proposed a framework for Fatah-Hamas reconciliation that eventually coalesced into the Mecca Agreement).

That said, this is not a radical move on the part of the Israelis. As has been the case with other Palestinian political leaders, Bargouthi has been groomed for leadership while in Israeli prisons. With perhaps 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, most of whom are never heard from and many of whom are horribly abused (raped, tortured, etc) the fact that Bargouthi has been allowed to run a PR operation from jail should give us pause, to say the least.

And to suggest that Bargouthi was a "no-shit terrorist" is a bit misleading. Bargouthi is essentially a moderate, in the strain of Yasser Arafat, and always has been. Indeed, he escaped Arafat's control during the Second Intifada, but he was an enthusiastic supporter of the peace process all the way until Camp David. Subsequently, with the end of the intifada, Bargouthi has expressed repeatedly that he is a supporter of negotiations with Israel as the only route to peace.

Despite his moderate views, his credibility (which he has been allowed to maintain by Israel during his imprisonment) makes him the only chance for Israel to save the Palestinian Authority, essentially a dependent client with little practical autonomy--essentially a neocolonial subcontractor that allows Israel to retain control of all of Mandatory Palestine while reducing resistance to its objectives and managing/financing the day-to-day affairs of a population chafing under occupation.


Be careful what you wish for.

The timing of this deal is .....interesting.

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Maybe. But Barghouti is pretty damn popular. At the very least, he's a wild card for Hamas to contend with. And if we're talking beyond the very least, he's as much a threat to Hamas as to Abbas, even if he stays in exile, which doesn't seem likely to last if true.

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He is a good friend that speaks well of us behind our backs.

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