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The Barghouti (Arafat) Trial

16 August 2002

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Tanzim/Al Aksa Brigades leader Marwan Barghouti was put on trial in Tel Aviv this week for the murder and maiming of scores of Israelis.  Barghouti’s supporters want to see it as a ‘show trial’ and Israel wants to put him in jail, forever.  The trial is a ‘show’ in a way, since Israel wants to publicly demonstrate that Palestinian Authority leaders are ‘in over their heads’ with terrorism.

After Israel captured the incriminating documents at Yasir Arafat’s Mukata headquarters and will be presenting some of Barghouti’s henchmen as state witnesses, his conviction is virtually a forgone conclusion.  But that is far from the end.

Not only is Israel putting the Palestinian Authority on trial, it is putting its chairman, Yasir Arafat in the defendant’s seat.  True, for Arafat it is only a ‘virtual’ trial, but his name will surface enough in connection to terror that none will forget. 

It is possible the ensuing Middle East chaos from an American attack against Iraq and its fallout will allow for the capture and trial of Arafat by Jerusalem.  It does sound a bit far fetched.  But then who, two years ago would have expected Israeli Foreign Minister Peres to agree with Prime Minister Sharon’s policy of virtual house arrest for the Palestinian leader.  It was reported that just this week Peres told a Palestinian delegation that Arafat would not be freed and that he too was completely fed up Arafat’s terror involvement.

Barghouti’s trial (and Arafat’s ensuing incrimination) is taking place with Labor as a full participant in the government.  The Left may very well be hoping that Barghouti is behind bars and international support for Arafat is completely undermined by election time in 2003.  They could then point out a ‘legitimate’ alternative Palestinian leadership with whom Israel can negotiate.

Labor will let the Right do the dirty work (with silent approval) and show the way to a ‘peaceful alternative’.