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Dr. Mustafa Barghouti urges Irish lead on Mideast peace process

December 14, 2013
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Mustafa Bargouthi]

This article originaly appeared on The Irish Times


Mustafa Barghouti emerges from Kilmainham Gaol vowing to read more on Robert Emmett, executed for his failed rising in 1803.

The leader of the non-violent Palestinian National Initiative (PNI) already draws inspiration from hunger striker Bobby Sands and his prison campaign for special category status in the H Blocks in 1981.

“We were also colonised by the British colonial system. My grandfather and uncle were imprisoned in similar prisons.” Now, his country is occupied by a new power, he says.

“Today it is the Israeli occupation which has been there for longer than any other occupation in modern history. Now there is almost no Palestinian family that did not have someone in jail. More than 44 per cent of Palestinian adults have been to jail in one way or another. The similarity in terms of imprisonment, suffering and oppression is huge. I learned so many beautiful stories today about the brilliant Irish insistence on achieving freedom.”

He says the Palestinian prisoners’ mass hunger strike of 2012 illustrates “what I have been advocating for 10 years and which is succeeding very much in Palestine – popular non-violent resistance”.

Barghouti leads the PNI which is severely critical of both Hamasand the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. As a medical doctor, he also heads the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, a large organisation that helps those in need in the Palestinian territories.

However his mission to Ireland is political, not charitable.

“Basically I am here to tell people about the Palestinian struggle for freedom about our insistence on using non-violence as a form of struggle and about the need for strong international solidarity. Without it, we cannot succeed.”

Ireland crucial
Ireland is crucial to that mission, he believes. Barghouti met Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore this week to thank Ireland for support at the UN but also to press for more action. “We are hoping there will be more [support] in the future. Recognition of the Palestinian state could become a very important step that Ireland can take without having to wait for others. This would be a strong contribution to the peace process if the goal is a two-state solution.”

He wants more from Ireland. “We want a clear mechanism of banning settlement products in Europe in general – not just labelling them, but banning them. These products represent a violation of international law.”


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