(MENAFN - Arab News) Three missives that sum up the predicament of Palestinians under occupation came under the limelight in the past few days. The first was sent by imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti to the Palestinian people and their leadership on the eve of Land Day, which marks the killing of six Arabs in 1976 and protests Israel's land grab policies.
In his open letter Barghouti, who was arrested in 2002 and is serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail, called on Palestinians to launch widespread popular resistance against Israeli occupation.
He called on the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to stop security and economic coordination with Israel, adding that popular resistance at this stage is what is needed. He called for an immediate end to peace talks. For negotiations to resume, he added, Israel must release Palestinian detainees, stop building settlements and recognize 1967 borders.
Ten years after his imprisonment Barghouti remains one of the most popular Palestinian leaders. This was not his first message from prison but his call for a popular uprising has irked his jailers and embarrassed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Barghouti is one of the key leaders of the second uprising, which broke out in 2000 after peace talks collapsed. Last week the Israeli authorities placed Barghouti in solitary confinement and prevented him from receiving visitors.
Barghouti's letter drew mixed reactions from Palestinians, Israelis and others. Israel's Haaretz newspaper said: "Barghouti is the most authentic leader Fatah has produced, and he can lead his people to an agreement. ... If Israel had wanted an agreement with the Palestinians it would have released him from prison by now."
But an unexpected support for Barghouti's call for nonviolent resistance came from influential New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman who described his appeal as "noteworthy". He wrote that "I can certainly see the efficacy of nonviolent resistance by Palestinians to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank - on one condition: They accompany any boycotts, sit-ins or hunger strikes with a detailed map of the final two-state settlement they are seeking. Just calling for 'an end to occupation' won't cut it."
Friedman failed to mention that the Palestinians, since the signing of the Oslo Accords almost two decades ago, have provided such maps after years of tough negotiations. It is Israel that has turned its back on previous agreements, road maps and understandings. Palestinian officials often complain that Israel wants to renegotiate what has been agreed upon previously.
Still Friedman's conditional backing of Barghouti's message to his people is remarkable. He writes that " by engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience in the West Bank with one hand and carrying a map of a reasonable two-state settlement on the other, they will be adopting the only strategy that will end the Israeli occupation: Making Israelis feel morally insecure but strategically secure."
Friedman believes that such strategy will revive Israel's peace camp, which has been dormant for years. In his view this strategy is what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fears but is sure the Palestinians will never adopt.
The second missive, in the form of an open letter to President Abbas, was written by former Israeli Cabinet minister Yossi Beilin. Published in Foreign Policy and entitled: Dear Abu Mazen: End this Farce, Beilin called on his old peace partner to issue "A declaration of the end of the Oslo process - justified by the fact that the path to a permanent-status agreement is blocked." He said that "this is the most reasonable, nonviolent option for putting the subject back on the world's agenda, with the aim of renewing genuine efforts to reach a conclusive solution."
Beilin knows what he is talking about. He was Abu Mazen's opposite in the Oslo peace talks in 1992, worked on the Beilin-Abu Mazen negotiations between 1993 and 1995, and launched the Geneva Accord with Yasser Abed Rabbo in 2003. He served as minister in three Israeli governments.
In his letter Beilin explains how the Oslo Accords, which he describes as a "tremendous victory for the peace camps", were later thwarted. In his view "opponents of the accords - both on the Palestinian side and on the Israeli side - have turned the agreement into a device that has allowed the parties to block a two-state solution."
Beilin then calls on President Abbas to dissolve the Palestinian Authority and return daily control of the occupied territories to Israel. "Do not let Prime Minister Netanyahu hide behind the fig leaf of the Palestinian Authority - impose upon him, once again, the responsibility for the fate of 4 million Palestinians," he writes.
The third letter, which will be delivered by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to his Israeli opposite on April 17, will reiterate PNA's position that Palestine will not return to peace talks until Israel stops all settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, accepts a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, and releases Palestinian political prisoners, according to President Abbas. If that approach fails, then the Palestinian leader will ask UN General Assembly to recognize Palestinian statehood.
There is little new in Abbas' position. His letter to Netanyahu will unlikely change Israel's stubborn position on final status issues and open the path for the conclusion of a two-state solution deal. Barghouti and Beilin offer two drastic options. Both appeals require bold and historic decisions by the Palestinian leadership. Together the three letters summarize the predicament of the Palestinian question today.