The issue of a stable and acceptable Palestinian government could have been settled two decades ago. On the occasion of a massive turnout for the 2004 funeral of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, both former U.S. Presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche and former Secretary of State James Baker III named the obvious, unifying individual: Marwan Barghouti, the leader of the West Bank Fatah. The problem at the time was that he was in an Israeli prison. Almost 20 years later, Barghouti is still in that prison cell.
On Nov. 11, 2004, LaRouche addressed an Argentine and Peruvian public event: “There is a man in an Israeli prison, who if [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon wanted to, and if the United States would pressure Sharon to do it, could be pulled out of prison as a negotiating partner with Sharon, for bringing about, or negotiating, some kind of peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis. If they did agree to acceptable terms, that would in a sense bring the crisis in the entire Southwest Asia, into some kind of order…. We are obviously going to work for that.”
That same day, Baker stated: “There is now in Israel—in an Israeli prison, a man named Marwan Barghouti, who is one of the young guard of Palestinians, and if the Palestinians are going to make this work against the really hard-line elements, the Islamists and some of the people of Hamas, they’re going to have to have a coalition of the young guard and the old guard. And it would be really a very positive step in the right direction if Israel would release Marwan Barghouti, so that he could participate in bringing about this transition.”
Both quotes appear in the EIR Nov. 26, 2004 article by Dean Andromidas “LaRouche and Baker Call for Freeing Barghouti,”, in which he pointed out that Barghouti was widely trusted amongst Palestinians. A poll at that time put Barghouti at 51%, far ahead of Hamas’s leader, Ismail Haniyah, at 28%.