The Opportunity Presented by Annapolis

Mustafa Barghouthi, member of the Palestinian parliament and former candidate for president of the Palestinian Authority, and a founder of the Palestinian National Initiative, in The Baltimore Sun (reprinted in electronic intifada):

As one who for decades has supported a two-state solution and the nonviolent struggle for Palestinian rights, I view the recent conference in Annapolis with a great deal of skepticism — and a glimmer of hope.

Seven years with no negotiations — and increasing numbers of Israeli settlers, an economic blockade in Gaza and an intricate network of roadblocks and checkpoints stifling movement in the West Bank — have led us to despair and distrust. Any commitment must be made not only to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008 but also to end Israel’s occupation.

The Palestinians must also heal their internal divisions. This must include institutional reform to root out corruption and nepotism. The first step in that process is democratic elections at all levels of government.

We must rid ourselves of the false dichotomy between Fatah and Hamas. These are not the only options. My movement, the five-year-old Palestinian National Initiative, offers an alternative emphasizing democratic elections, transparent government and institution-building. Our goal is to democratize and engage the Palestinian national movement in a unified strategy to confront Israel’s ongoing occupation and seizure of our land and resources. We strive to achieve our national rights in our homeland and to establish social justice to uphold the rights of the underprivileged and marginalized, including women, children and people with disabilities.

[H/t: Saifedean Ammous]