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Mustafa Barghouti: Israel’s collective punishment will not break the will of the Palestinian people

June 19, 2014
Section: [Main News] [Opinion] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [Collective Punishment]

Photo by Lazar Simeonov.

Israel’s campaign of mass arrests over the past six days gave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the perfect excuse to finally step in an dismantle the newly established Palestinian unity government, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti said during a press conference in Ramallah on Wednesday.  

According to Barghouti, chairman of the Palestinian National Initiative, Netanyahu’s government has long been looking for an excuse to prevent full reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.

Dr. Barghouti said Israel aims to achieve three major goals in connection to its search for the three missing teens.

First, is an attempt to break the political will of the Palestinian people. By intensifying its apartheid system, keeping Palestinians in disconnected “bantustans,” Israel is clearly attempting to prevent any kind of national political consensus. 

The second objective, according to Barghouti, is an attempt to break apart Palestinian national unity and national reconciliation. He labeled Israel’s attempts at stirring internal political differences a despicable practice of incitement.

Currently, Israel is holding 18 members of the Palestinian parliament in detention, according to Palestinian prisoner support and human rights association Addameer. Barghouti argued that this is an obvious attempt to prevent the Palestinian Legislative Council from meeting, carrying out its duties and moving forward to complete reconciliation efforts.

The third objective is an attempt to combat Israel’s growing international isolation, particularly after suffering through a rather embarrassing situation surrounding the recent formation of the Palestinian unity government. The EU and the US were both quick to support the government’s formation despite Israeli appeals not to do so.

Barghouti provided a detailed account of the mass raids Israel has conducted throughout the West Bank in supposed connection with its search for the three missing teens.

“Hebron, Nablus, Jenin, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jalazone, Tulkarem and this is just the beginning,” said Barghouti. “This is collective punishment.”

Since the teens went missing late Thursday evening, Israel has enacted a comprehensive blockade on the entire district of Hebron in the southern West Bank. A similar closure was set up around Nablus on Tuesday.

He added that the raids do not only include the offices of Hamas, but also include offices of many other political parties. On Monday, Israeli forces raided the offices of the Palestinian National Initiative in Jenin. The office, said Barghouti, was completely destroyed, and computers and files were seized.

“Israel’s attack is directed against all the Palestinian people, but we will not allow it to drive a wedge between us,” Barghouti said.

“Israel is conducting the worst form of collective punishment since 2002. One million people in Hebron and Nablus are prevented from moving in and out of their districts. Israeli measures are damaging our economy, health care, and humanitarian situation,” Barghouti said. “Mr. Netanyahu’s rejection of the peace process and policies are dragging the region toward disaster.  His decision to allow teenagers to study in illegal settlements on stolen land is a violation of international law and makes him partially responsible for what has happened. “

“Every inch of Palestinian territory is now under military occupation, including the Palestinian Authority.  It is totally illogical to ask Palestinians who are under occupation to provide protection to their occupiers and to illegal settlers while they are unable to protect themselves from the attacks of these occupiers,” said Barghouti.  “The attacks that are taking place are not against Hamas only. They are attacking all Palestinians and even arresting members of the PA security forces. “ 

Barghouti pointed out that what he saw during his trip to Hebron on Monday was reminiscent of the oppression that took place in 2002. Netanyahu, he said, is recreating the “Sharon” scenario, and seems to be heading for a complete re-occupation of the entire West Bank.


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