Marwan Barghouti to Become Palestine’s “Nelson Mandela?”

In the discussions on options for the future of a Palestinian state, the name of Marwan Barghouti as a possible leader has been raised, in particular in France. Dubbed the “Nelson Mandela of Palestine”, he has been imprisoned in Israel since 2002, serving five life sentences for murdering civilians in the framework of the second Intifada launched in 2000, in which he was a leader.

Barghouti joined the leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization alongside Yasser Arafat in 1987. An active supporter of the Oslo Accords signed in 1993, he returned to Palestine in 1994 and became a deputy for Ramallah in 1996. Later elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council, he set up an Israeli-Palestinian parliamentary friendship group in the Israeli Knesset, and consistently condemned the targeting of civilians.

Although as a leader of the Palestinian Authority, Barghouti has been denounced by Hamas, the leaders of the group are said to be ready to accept his leadership today. He is certainly more respected and trusted to defend the cause of his people than the current discredited head of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas.

A new campaign has been launched for his release from prison, as part of the deals to end the war in Gaza. The initiative has been warmly supported by Ofer Bronchtein, a former advisor to Yitzhak Rabin and negotiator of the Oslo Agreements, who has fought for the two-state solution for years. Since 2020, Bronchtein has served as an adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron, on the solution to the Israeli-Palestine war. In a Nov. 28 interview on RFI/France24, he repeated that freeing Barghouti would be a positive development for peace, that the Palestinians recognize his leadership and that even Hamas would accept him.

The Communist Party of France has also supported the “Barghouti solution”. And former Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, has called for his liberation, to allow him to become the leader of Palestine, as has former French Presidential candidate Jacques Cheminade.

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