Palesine: Who will lead the people?

The Palestinian leadership has been thrown into turmoil after jailed Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti, announced his intention to enter the presidential campaign.

He has now placed himself in direct competition with &to=http:// ' target=_blank>PLO leader, Mahmoud Abbas, a move that has angered many in the Palestinian establishment and prompted outgoing US Secretary of State Colin Powell to admit his candidacy might be problematic.

The Israeli Government have made it clear there will be no early release for Barghouti for the forthcoming elections, says ABC News.

Barghouti, 45, the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>West Bank head of Arafat's mainstream Fatah faction and a main inspiration on the Palestinian street behind the intifada, has long been seen as the natural successor of the late leader.

Barghouti was condemned in June to five life terms in connection with deadly attacks inside Israel.

Palestinians see him as the only post-Arafat leader who enjoys sufficient legitimacy to both impose his will on militants and of being capable of talking to the Israelis, wrote the Daily Star.

According to The Times, &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Yassir Arafat’s death last month, combined with Mr Sharon’s Gaza pullout plan, had offered the best opportunity for peace in the region since the outbreak of violence four years ago, and Mr Blair, President Bush and most of the major players in the international community have committed themselves to a fresh effort to revive the peace process.

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