The leader of a Palestinian nationalist party and cousin of an imprisoned Palestinian terror leader told the J Street conference this morning that blame for imminent failure of a two-state solution will rest squarely on the shoulders of Israel, and advocated an alliance for “one democratic free state.”
Dr. Mustafa Barghouti spoke on a panel titled “One-State, Two-State, Green State, Blue State” at the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” conference in Washington.
He warned the audience that the point of no return for the failure of a two-state solution is near. “We have either crossed that line or about to cross it,” Barghouti said.
“There is no way you can keep a democratic state and keep oppression of another people… we as Palestinians will never accept to remain slaves of occupation,” he said to audience applause.
“If the two-state option is dead this time it will not be the Palestinian responsibility,” the leader of the Palestinian National Initiative and onetime presidential candidate said. “This time it is an Israeli responsibility and no one can avoid that.”
Barghouti’s cousin in the large Ramallah family, Marwan Barghouti, led the First and Second Intifadas and is currently serving five life sentences for murder in Israel; he was acquitted of 21 counts for lack of sufficient evidence. His name is frequently brought up in prisoner exchanges but he was not released with the flood of inmates traded for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
“Some people might not like the word apartheid… I understand why you wouldn’t like it; there is nothing to be proud of,” Mustafa Barghouti said. “We actually live in that system.”
He complained that Israel’s GDP was higher than that of the Palestinian territories, with Israelis making “40 times more,” “and yet we are obliged to pay the same prices that Israelis do.”
“I cannot describe to you the level of violations of human rights,” Barghouti said, accusing Israeli soldiers of using dogs on Palestinians in a manner reminiscent of segregation in the U.S.
He said the goal is to “change the balance of power so a solution can be found.”
“The policy of the Israeli government is as much against the interests of the Jewish people as it is against the Palestinians,” he said to applause, adding to more clapping that Palestinians are also “struggling for the freedom of the Israeli people from the last colonial system.”
“That’s the kind of alliance we need for the future,” he told the J Street crowd.
“Your work, your mobilization, your activity gives us a lot of hope, so thank you for what you are doing.”