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Barghouti Uses Closing Arguments at Murder Trial to Condemn Israel


Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti used his closing arguments at his murder trial in Tel Aviv to defend the Palestinian uprising and condemn Israel.

Mr. Barghouti says the Palestinian intifada, or uprising, is a justified reaction to what he called Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

He is on trial on 26 counts of alleged murder, after playing a leading role in orchestrating the Palestinian rebellion against Israel.

Mr. Barghouti, who is the head of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction in the West Bank, refuses to recognize Israel's right to try him. He avoided all mention of the charges that have been brought against him.

Addressing a Tel Aviv court in Hebrew, he said the uprising had taught the Israelis that "the Palestinian people cannot be brought to heel by force." He said that within four or five years Israel would either have to agree to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state or accept the founding of a bi-national state within its own territory.

Mr. Barghouti praised the Israeli air force pilots who last week signed a letter saying they would no longer agree to serve in the Palestinian civilian areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

He congratulated the pilots on coming to the conclusion that they had been "committing war crimes."

Mr. Barghouti, who represented himself without legal counsel, said the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip must continue every minute.

He said that no one can call himself a Palestinian leader, if he does not, "fight the occupation."

A panel of three judges presiding in Tel Aviv said the date set for a verdict, November 10, might have to be postponed to allow more time to review the large amounts of evidence that had been presented during the trial.

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