Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Via Israel Prison Authority
It has been a very long time since we had an opportunity to talk, I wish that I could meet you and see you face-to-face as I would like to tell you some things on very personal level. I have spoken very positively about you many times over the years to journalists, in the newspapers, radio and on television. I have also spoken about you and your case to many Israeli politicians including Ministers in the current government. I believe that you are a political leader that Israel should be interested in speaking with and in negotiating with.
I am writing to you on my own behalf to ask you to reconsider your candidacy for the position of President of the Palestinian Authority. I have no doubts in my mind that your turn will come in the future; but it is not the right time now. I imagine it is extremely difficult to be behind bars, I can’t even imagine what your daily life is like in prison, and I know how anxious you must be to get released, to return to your home and your family and to lead the Palestinian people to peace.
I honestly believe that the region could be at the dawn of a new age. The Israeli and Palestinian people seem willing and anxious to move away from violence and into a political process that could lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state along the Clinton principles. Now is the time for that to happen. Enough innocent Palestinians and Israelis have died. It is time to put the violent struggle behind us and to enlist the international community to bring the sides to the table and to peace.
What is required now is a period of calm and stabilization. The Palestinian people and leadership after Arafat have responded to the new situation with extraordinary responsibility. The internal Palestinian dialogue which I know you have played an active role in, has shown the maturity of the Palestinian people. Abu Mazen has done a remarkable job at keeping and building a sense of transition and calm leadership. Abu Mazen is trusted by the international community and by the Israeli leadership. Sharon is ready to do “business” with Abu Mazen and to implement the disengagement in coordination with the new Palestinian government after elections. This disengagement will, I have no doubts, lead to further political advances that will bring us back to the Road Map and to negotiations on Palestinian statehood and other key issues such as the future of Jerusalem. Abu Mazen is the right man for the job right now.
You will not be forgotten and your time will come. I whole heartedly believe someday in the not too distant future that you will be released from prison and you will rise to the highest position in Palestinian political life. Yes, there is a possibility that you could win the elections now - that is what the latest polls are suggesting. But what would happen if you did win? Would the region move into a political process that will bring real political achievements to the Palestinians? Will we enjoy a period of calm, stability and economic growth? Or will we return to extreme violence, more destruction and more losses of innocent Palestinians and Israelis? I believe it will be the latter.
Even if you are elected now, Sharon will not release you under the current circumstances. There will be no real international pressure on Israel to speed up your release – the only real pressure of meaning is from Washington and President Bush will not carry your flag. Your release will only come when there is a new political era and violence has ended. If you are elected, I believe that we will enter into a new cycle of violence, a terrible rage that will bring much more suffering than good.
For the good of the Palestinian people and for the hope that we can move forward now towards a new peace process, I appeal to you personally Marwan, withdraw your candidacy and give your support to Abu Mazen. I know you and I respect you as a leader of your people. You are a man of principle and a man of reason. Think hard and do the right thing for your people. Once again I tell you, your time WILL come, but now is not the right time.
Gershon Baskin, Ph.D.
P.O. Box 9321, Jerusalem 91092
Tel: 972-2-676-9460 Fax: 972-2-676-8011