Last Thursday, Israel National News (Arutz Sheva) reported that Arab-Israeli MK Yosef Jabarin traveled to Hadarim Prison to visit with top Palestinian terror mastermind Marwan Barghouti.

After the visit, Jabarin reportedly claimed to be “impressed” by the terrorist’s “serious intention” to run for chairman of the Palestinian Authority (PA), despite being holed up in an Israeli jail cell:

During their meeting, Jabarin and Barghouti discussed efforts to reconcile split Palestinian factions before the upcoming municipal elections, which are set for October. Barghouti emphasized that the success of the local government elections could pave the way for democratic elections in the Palestinian Legislative Council, and the office of the chairman of the Palestinian Authority after Abbas—which would give him a chance to supersede Abbas”.

Other than this brief mention in Arutz Sheva and an editorial in a website catering to religiously-observant Jews, I couldn’t find this news item covered by any other mainstream media outlet.

That’s not surprising.

These are the type of newsworthy stories that the Western media usually avoids because Israeli Jews aren’t involved and they aren’t the ones behaving badly.

Credit: Breaking Israel News

Credit: Breaking Israel News

Marwan Barghouti—Second Intifada Terror Mastermind

Barghouti (56)—a one-time peace activist who initially supported the Oslo Accords—served as the head of the Tanzim, one of Fatah’s armed terrorist factions, and was the founder of, and senior official in, the terrorist group known as the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

Considered among the driving forces behind the bloody second intifada, he was convicted in 2004 for multiple murders and attempted murders.

Credit: Jerusalem Post

Credit: Jerusalem Post

According to the charges against him, he was a key orchestrator of a series of deadly suicide terror attacks from 2000-2001. Among other attacks, he bears direct responsibility for the killing of three Israelis in a shooting spree at a Tel Aviv seafood restaurant and an attack outside of Jerusalem in which a Greek Orthodox monk was killed.

Seafood market attack

As we noted in a prior post, there’s evidence that he was also an accomplice in the horrific Sbarro Pizzeria bombing, where 15 people—a majority of them children—lost their lives and scores more were injured, many severely.

Suicide bombing Sbarro

At his trial, Barghouti expressed no remorse for his crimes and refused to recognize the court as legally qualified to judge him.

You’d think that, after being sentenced to five consecutive life terms (plus 40 years) for his role in the murder and maiming of scores of innocent civilians, we wouldn’t be hearing anything more from this depraved individual.

But that’s not the way it’s worked out.

Top Terrorist is the Palestinian People’s Choice to Succeed Mahmoud Abbas

For the last dozen years Barghouti’s been exerting great influence within the Fatah party and Palestinian politics. From his jail cell he’s managed to write and speak prolifically to both adoring Palestinian and international audiences.

Poster at Al-Quds University | Jenin, West Bank | shows (left to right) Yasser Arafat, jailed Palestinian Marwan Barghouti, and Mahmoud Abbas | Reads: "Going to Jerusalem" | Credit: AP/Mohammad Ballas & Times of Israel

[Poster at Al-Quds University, Jenin, West Bank, shows (left to right) Yasser Arafat, jailed Palestinian Marwan Barghouti, and Mahmoud Abbas | Reads: “Going to Jerusalem” | Credit: AP/Mohammad Ballas & Times of Israel]

Over the years, he’s stated many times that there can be no peace with Israel without the ‘right of return’—declarations that have no basis in international law, upend the two-state solution, and deny the Jewish people the right to their own nation-state.

Nor in his many writings, speeches, and interviews has Barghouti ever denounced violence—including terrorism. In 2014, he was reportedly given a week of solitary confinement after calling for the renewal of an armed intifada.

Back in October, he provided a widely-cited rationalization for the recent wave of Palestinian knifings and car-ramming attacks against Jewish Israelis via an op-ed that he wrote for the Guardian.

Guardian op-ed

Guardian celebrates and obfuscates

While in captivity, he’s also been “reaching understandings” with Hamas leaders about

coordinating a struggle against the Israeli occupation, forcing Israel back to the pre-1967 lines, ending the Oslo Accords and reversing Palestinian recognition of Israel”.

Apparently, he’s earned the trust of Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders precisely because he’s “emphatically more radical” than Abbas.

None of this—or his life imprisonment for terrorist murders—has prevented him from becoming a serious challenge to Abbas or a glorified hero abroad.

A good indication of his rising public stature is the fact that his presidential candidacy has recently received endorsements from other high-ranking Palestinian figures considered by some as possible Abbas successors (e.g., Mohammed Dahlan and Saeb Erekat).

There’s also the worldwide media campaign launched this past spring by his Fatah associates in Ramallah, including the Palestinian Legislative Council, to nominate Barghouti for the Nobel Peace Prize—an effort that’s met with considerable success.

Credit: Honest Reporting

Credit: Honest Reporting

Tunisia’s parliament was among the first to pledge its support for the nomination. The campaign was also backed by Argentina’s human rights activist, Adolfo Perez Esquivel—a self-identified pacifist and writer who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980.

Nobel prize for Barghouti, Esquivel

Then, this past June South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu also announced that Barghouti was his nominee for this year’s honor.

Basically, Barghouti has been effectively branded as a Palestinian Nelson Mandela.

The upshot is that, as veteran Arab affairs correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote back in April, Barghouti isn’t laboring under some crazy fantasy in anticipating himself as a successor to PA President Abbas.

If elections were held now, his chances of winning would be “excellent”.

Lessons from the Jabarin-Barghouti Meeting

What conclusions should we draw from MK Yosef Jabarin’s visit with jailed killer Marwan Barghouti—a man now planning to replace Mahmoud Abbas, who is himself currently serving out the 11th year of what should’ve been only a four-year-term of office?

To be sure, this incident offers yet another striking example of how Israel’s Arab parliamentarians are undermining the possibility for Arab-Jewish co-existence.

A majority of Israeli Arabs are proud to be Israeli; want to integrate more (not less) into Israeli society; and genuinely desire to live in peace with their Jewish neighbors.

But instead of serving the interests of their community’s “sane majority”, these Knesset members generate antagonism by spending an inordinate amount of their time openly supporting terror attacks against their fellow citizens, defending terrorist organizations and bad-mouthing their country—especially at foreign venues.

It’s worth noting that Jabarin isn’t the first Arab Israeli legislator to visit with the arch-terrorist. Several months ago another United Arab List delegation paid Barghouti a visit too.

Joint List head Ayman Odeh—a parliamentarian who is often hailed as a ‘moderate’ voice—has also spoken in support of the mass-murderer. Back in April, Odeh reportedly praised Barghouti as a “great fighter” and a symbol for the Palestinian cause.

Odeh praises Barghouti

But Jabarin’s trip to see Marwan Barghouti—a convict deep in plans with Hamas to “free Palestine”—isn’t significant only for what it says about the ever more outrageous behavior of Arab Israeli MKs.



What’s even more important are its ramifications for Israel’s West Bank policy in a looming post-Abbas era.

To put it bluntly: The fact that Marwan Barghouti stands a good shot at becoming the next PA President means that Palestinians at present simply aren’t a partner for a comprehensive peace, nor able of establishing a viable state that can credibly commit to living side-by-side with Israel.

Like convicted mass-murderer Barghouti, the vast majority of Palestinians “see themselves as on the defensive” and thus vindicated in supporting violence against Israelis.

Credit: Mosaic

Credit: Mosaic

They enthusiastically endorse him precisely because they find his views appealing. They too refuse to accept a Jewish homeland in any borders; oppose a just and permanent peace based on the concept of “painful but practical compromises”; and support a return to another deadly armed uprising in order to achieve the ultimate victory of ‘liberating Palestine’.

It’s an unfortunate reality that the latest Palestinian public opinion polls make all too clear.

It’s also the sad truth conveyed by Jabarin’s recent visit with Barghouti.

Bottom Line

Last week’s spectacle of yet another Arab Israeli MK making a pilgrimage to a venerated terrorist, who also happens to be a hugely popular Palestinian political figure, should give plenty of pause to all those now championing reckless new proposals for “peace”, especially the potentially lethal policy of moving toward the rapid establishment of a Palestinian state.

[Featured Image via YouTube]

Miriam F. Elman is an associate professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University. She is the editor of five books and the author of over 60 journal articles, book chapters, and government reports on topics related to international and national security, religion and politics in the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She also frequently speaks and writes on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) anti-Israel movement. Follow her on Twitter @MiriamElman  


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