This week “Palestine Report” interviewed Marwan Barghouti, General Secretary of Fateh higher committee in the West Bank, on the escalating crisis between Palestinians and Israel.

PR: Some people are saying that Palestinians have not learned from the mistakes they made in the last Intifada and are repeating them in this one. Do you think this is true?

Bargouti: There has been extensive study of the negative aspects of the last Intifada. Some of these aspects included banning workers from going to their workplaces, closing shops and allowing schools to participate in Intifada activities. Presently we are seeing these same actions, but it is Israel who is carrying them out. Israel has closed a number of schools and people have been forced to take classes during the evening hours. As you can see, we have reduced the commercial strikes and boycott of Israeli products.

Another change is that today, it is the law that is in charge of dealing with collaborators. This Intifada is different in a number of ways from the first Intifada. For one, it is more organized and it is more painful for the other side. There is also a kind of balance in dealing with the [Palestinian] people and their personal liberties. The door is always open for free participation from the various sectors.

PR: What about the mistakes Palestinians have made in terms of shooting?

Barghouti: Shooting is being used in the Intifada for the first time. We do not have experience in this. This issue has been discussed and suggestions have been made. But as our overall position developed and the need to stop the shooting from homes and residential areas became apparent, we became committed to this decision.

You must remember that when we talk about the phenomenon of shooting, we are talking about a totally new phenomenon that did not exist previously. It is not conducted under any official directives, nor is there a leadership for these armed men. It more or less relies on personal initiative, which doubtless has meant that some less-than-aware elements have participated in the name of carrying out a noble goal. [Nevertheless], the phenomenon of gunmen is for the most part one happening among disciplined elements.

PR: Why is armed resistance largely limited to those who are followers of Fateh? For the most part, other forces have not participated in this movement.

Barghouti: There is no law or system to govern this phenomenon, even from inside Fateh. The movement doesn’t have a military wing for dealing with these circumstances and the phenomenon is basically a self-sustaining one. In this regard, you cannot talk about one movement without the other. The only thing is that Fateh is the largest popular movement and has led the Intifada from its start. Overall, the movement has taken the lion’s share of responsibility in all aspects, including that of armed confrontations.

PR: There are some who believe that any future agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel could make Fateh’s fighters the scapegoats for what has happened. Do you think this is a possibility?

Barghouti: The period of us paying dearly for an agreement, political or otherwise, is over. We have offered all these martyrs for a solution, not to pay a greater price. It must be a solution that will provide security and quiet for everyone in the region. We will not accept any partial solution that might be postponed.

The Israeli side is always seeking more victories. It separates the people between “terrorists” and “citizens” and says it will reward the latter and punish the former. And Israel will no doubt continue in these endeavors. But the Palestinian people have learned from their past experiences and will not allow the repetition of what happened in the past. What happened to the prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons is bad enough.

PR: You have recently voiced criticism for what you called “shortcomings” of certain lead officials in the movement. Have you followed up on this charge?

Barghouti: There is no doubt that some top officials have not carried out their duties to the best of their abilities during these circumstances. I do not want to get into why, but I can say that everyone should be participating, carrying out an individual role. Hundreds of citizens have raised their voices and complained about the shortcomings and the lack of any active role from these officials.