Marwan Barghouti has criticised the concept of land swaps with the Israelis and called for a Palestinian state on all of the land occupied by Israel in 1967. The jailed member of the PLO Executive Committee made his comments on the 65th anniversary of the Nakba, the catastrophe of the founding of the state of Israel which saw more than 750,000 Palestinians driven from their land in an act of ethnic cleansing which continues to this day. He also took the opportunity to demand the retention of Palestinian refugees' right of return.
"We call for all Palestinians everywhere to commemorate the Nakba with more resistance against the Israeli occupation and illegal settlements," said Barghouti. Nobody can concede the right to return by proxy, he insisted, as it is guaranteed as an individual right, not a collective right, by UN Resolution 194. "This is a point of consensus among Palestinians everywhere," he pointed out, "and is the noblest and holiest aim for Palestinians to fight for."
Calling for Israel's complete withdrawal from the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, Mr Barghouti said that no concessions of the Palestinian national principles are acceptable, calling them "free gifts" to the Israelis. He stressed that Palestinians have the right of self-determination and the right to establish a full sovereign independent state within the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital. "Freeing all prisoners in Israeli jails is also one of the Palestinian principles."
Barghouti, who is one of the most popular leaders among Fatah supporters, criticised the attempts to resume negotiations with the Israelis without fulfilling Palestinian demands. "Any attempt to resume negotiations before fulfilling the demands will harm our national interests," he added.
The Fatah leader was detained by the Israeli occupation authorities in April 2002. He was convicted and given five life sentences by an Israeli court for his alleged involvement in the first and second Palestinian uprisings against Israel's brutal military occupation.