Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, is currently visiting the United States, where he has met with several Palestinian diaspora communities in New York, Washington, and Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Dr. Barghouthi discussed the Palestinian situation on the ground today and talked about how Palestinians in the diaspora can help to end the occupation, stop settlements, establish an independent Palestinian state, and guarantee the right of return. He asked thousands of people who participated in the meetings to take part in the upcoming elections for the Palestinian National Council, the legislative body of the PLO. Dr. Barghouthi said that the Palestinian democratic process will not be complete unless diaspora Palestinians take part in this election for a body that will make decisions on behalf of all Palestinians outside of Palestine.
Dr. Barghouthi talked about the Wall, military checkpoints, and especially the grave threats of new illegal settlements being rapidly built on land slated for the Palestinian state. He also warned about returning to the same ambushes that Palestinians endured during the Oslo years, where Israelis and Palestinians were allegedly involved in peace negotiations, but Israel was actually making peace and justice impossible by building more and more illegal settlements and increasing its stranglehold on occupied Palestinian land. He warned that such actions could effectively destroy the idea of an independent and fully sovereign Palestinian state and instead usher in the paradigm of Palestine as a “Bantustan” or a series of non-contiguous, non-viable ghettos or cantons. He also warned against Sharon’s plan to make the Palestinian Authority a security sub-contractor for continued Israeli occupation and expansion.
During his visit to Washington, Dr. Barghouthi met with American Congressional leaders and Senators as well as representatives of the American Foreign Ministry and the African-American Council. In these meetings, he made efforts to reinforce the popular solidarity with the Palestinian people and lobby for a campaign of sanctions against Israeli occupation and human rights abuses.