In the absence of a diplomatic breakthrough, a Palestinian uprising may break out in September, a popular leader in the West Bank predicted Saturday.
Speaking at the 6th Annual Bil'in Conference on the Palestinian Popular Struggle, Mohammad Khatib said that while the Palestinian Authority does not wish to see an Intifada, some Palestinians are interested in an uprising against Israel.
"I think the next months are the most critical," said Khatib, who is among the leaders of the anti-security fence campaign in the village of Bil'in. "If we see no significant developments, an Intifada will break out."
This year, the conference was named after Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni, kidnapped and murdered in the Gaza Strip about a week ago. The event was attended by foreign diplomats and Palestinian leaders, headed by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Senior religious clerics and foreign activists were also in attendance."
"Our objective is to enlist international support for our struggle in Bil'in, and for the Palestinian struggle in general," Khatib said. "This is our way to engage in PR efforts and spread our story through the world."
Despite a Facebook campaign calling for a new Intifada to be launched in May, Khatib estimated that if an uprising indeed breaks out it will likely get underway in September. Young Palestinians are the ones pulling in that direction, he said.
"They see what happened in Egypt and this gives them a backwind, yet the Palestinian Authority is attempting to prevent it in all sorts of ways," he said.
One approach is the PA's decisive, open objection to an Intifada, with Palestinian officials focusing on a diplomatic campaign. Last week, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas declared that the second Intifada was "disastrous" for the Palestinians and added that he will not tolerate a "third armed uprising."
Speaking at the conference, Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti received great applause after declaring that "our situation will not change without a popular uprising." When asked to translate his words to English, Barghouti made clear he was referring to a non-violent uprising; however, the young Palestinians at the event apparently did not notice this nuance.
'People will decide'
Meanwhile, a Fatah source told Ynet that the group maintains full control of the West Bank, stressing that the situation there is different than in Egypt.
"A decision about an Intifada must be taken from above," he said, adding that such uprising will not happen should officials not order it. "Even if we assume that riots will start following the Facebook group's call, they will end in a day or two."
However, some Palestinians believe that a third Intifada is the only option. Senior Islamic Jihad member in Gaza Khaled Batash responded to Abbas' comments by saying that only the Palestinian people will determine whether an uprising takes place.
"He made a grave mistake and offered a promise he won't be able to deliver on," Batash said. "Only the Palestinian people will make the decision."
Elsewhere, senior Hamas official Osama Mazini accused the PA's security forces of thwarting popular efforts to launch an Intifada, charging that the PA was "persecuting Intifada organizers and their supporterss."
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