Palestinians draw on Mandela legacy for inspiration
Palestinian leaders have drawn on the legacy of Nelson Mandela, a high-profile supporter of their cause, likening his fight against apartheid to their own struggle to end Israeli occupation.
Ramallah: Palestinian leaders have drawn on the legacy of Nelson Mandela, a high-profile supporter of their cause, likening his fight against apartheid to their own struggle to end Israeli occupation.
Tributes to the late South African leader, whose death was announced Thursday, flooded in from Palestinian leaders.
Their tone was far more politicised than the eulogies of their Israeli counterparts, and came as US Secretary of State John Kerry wound up another mission aimed at boosting fragile peace talks.
"You said: `We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians`," invoked jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghuti in an "open letter" to Mandela.
"And from within my prison cell, I tell you our freedom seems possible because you reached yours," wrote the man known by his people as "the Palestinian Mandela".
"You are more than an inspiration," he wrote from inside prison where he is serving five life sentences for attacks on Israeli targets.
"Apartheid did not prevail in South Africa, and apartheid shall not prevail in Palestine," he added.
Barghuti is widely believed to have masterminded the second Palestinian intifada that erupted in 2000. He was arrested in April 2002 and sentenced two years later.
Barghuti has since said he never supported attacks on civilians inside Israel and in recent years has thrown his support behind peaceful resistance.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was also quick to weigh in.
"This is a great loss for all the peoples of the world, and for Palestine," Abbas said, hailing a "symbol of freedom from colonialism and occupation".
"The Palestinian people will never forget his historic statement that the South African revolution will not have achieved its goals as long as the Palestinians are not free," he said.
Palestinian protesters who hold weekly demonstrations in West Bank villages also remembered Mandela as they demonstrated yesterday against Israel`s separation barrier that cuts through the territory.
Israel says it is building the barrier for security reasons but the Palestinians brand it the "apartheid wall", and on Friday they also hung pictures of Mandela on barbed wire separating them from Israeli troops.