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Israel Attempts To Derail Barghouthi's Candidacy

Israel Attempts to Derail Mustafa Barghouthi's Candidacy for President of Palestine

By Genevieve Cora Fraser

The Palestinian presidential candidate I'm rooting for is Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, a distant cousin to jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi. He co-founded the Palestinian National Initiative with the late Edward Said as a democratic opposition movement to the Fatah dominated Palestinian administration and Legislative Council which appointed approximately 6,000 municipal representatives, rather than have them elected by the people. Barghouthi believes that a sovereign, independent, viable, and democratic Palestinian state must be built upon the institutional framework of the Palestinian Civil Society, a non-violent, self-reliant, self-determined network of NGOs or non-government organizations that include educational, medical, cultural, and charitable organizations as well as research institutes, plus environmental and legal organizations to name a few.

"The Palestinian Civil Society was developed after the failure of the Camp David peace talks in 1978. It was then Palestinians came to realize that help would not be found from outside their borders, but from within," Dr. Barghouthi stated.

In addition to serving as secretary-general to the Palestinian National Initiative, Dr. Bargouthi is the President of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, one of the largest and the leading Palestinian non-governmental organizations providing health and community services to more than 1 million people (1/3 of total population) yearly, throughout 435 Palestinian communities.

But there's one problem with Dr. Barghouthi's candidacy. The Israeli government seems bent on making him a non-viable candidate. The Israeli military recently prevented his campaigning in Hebron by holding him at a check-point at gun-point. Most recently Barghouthi was beaten to the ground and repeatedly assaulted as he attempted to intervene while the military beat his staff with the butt of their rifles. As I write this, Dr. Barghouthi is in a hospital outside of Jenin recovering from IDF induced injuries.

I call upon the United Nations, the European Union and the United States to intervene and permit all the Palestinian candidates for president free access to campaign throughout the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. The world community should not allow Israel to make a mockery of the democratic process. If Israel persists in obstructing fair and free elections in Palestine, sanctions should be swift and severe.

The vision Dr. Barghouthi shared with Edward Said for a just peace was through the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state on all of the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital. "It would also be the first Arab democracy in the Middle East," Barghouthi said.


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