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The Palestinian heir apparent
[Daily Edition]
Jerusalem Post - Jerusalem
Date: Aug 25, 2002
Start Page: 06
Section: Opinion
Abstract (Document Summary)

Intervening in Palestinian politics is a dangerous strategy for Israel to employ, but Barghouti presents a better long-term option to both Israel and the Palestinian population than almost any other figure. The final piece of the jigsaw came with Israel's recent Operation Defensive Shield which in political terms helped reduce the influence of the Palestinian security-force leaders in the West Bank and Gaza. It was never likely anyway that such figures would be any more than "kingmakers" for a future Palestinian leader. But now, unless there is a military coup, they will content themselves with preserving their own positions in the PA.

Last week Marwan Barghouti, the leader of Fatah in the West Bank, went on trial in Israel, charged with organizing armed attacks against Israelis. Barghouti is perhaps the most astute of the younger generation of Palestinian leaders, and Israel knows this. Originally, he was a strong supporter of the Oslo Accords but became one of the first leaders of Fatah to question the wisdom of the accords. Crucially, in this media-driven age, Barghouti is one of the few Palestinian leaders who can deal with both the Arabic and foreign media. He, like Binyamin Netanyahu in Israel, is the king of the sound bite and comes over well in interviews. Indeed, he has something of a swagger and self-confidence that does not always go down well with some of his colleagues, who describe him as "arrogant."

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