With Palestinian prisoner strike, Barghouti challenges Abbas’ leadership
Will a Palestinian hunger strike rain on Trump’s peace plans?
Amos Harel Apr 18, 2017
read more: ▻http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.783911
The hunger strike that nearly 1,200 Palestinian security prisoners in Israel began on Monday is expected to ratchet up the tensions between Israel and the Palestinians in the coming days. If complications occur and the strike lasts for an extended time, it is liable to take over the security and diplomatic agenda at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is declaring its intention to restart the peace process.
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However, like another crisis that escalated in recent days over the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip, it appears that the background to the strike has to do with intra-Palestinian power struggles as much as it has to do with the struggle against Israel.
The hunger strike is basically the initiative of a single person, Marwan Barghouti, the highest-ranking Fatah prisoner in Israel. The media attention from a prolonged strike will serve him in his moves vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority leadership, which is officially supporting the strike but in actuality is concerned about any outcome that could advance the standing of the imprisoned leader, who is not especially liked by President Mahmoud Abbas and his people. Barghouti already took credit for an initial success on Monday with an Op-Ed in The New York Times. (For some reason, the editors of the newspaper omitted from the publication the reason Barghouti is in prison: He was arrested and tried in 2002 for dispatching terrorists to carry out attacks at the height of the second intifada in which five Israeli civilians were killed. The piece has since been amended with an editor’s note amid a wave of heavy criticism.)