Mustafa Barghouti (Arabic: مصطفى البرغوثي, strict transliteration Muṣṭafā al-Barġūṯī, also transcribed Mustafa Barghouthi, Mustafa Al Barghuthi; born 1954) is a Palestinian democracy activist. He was a candidate for the presidency of the Palestinian National Authority in 2005, finishing second to Mahmoud Abbas, with 19% of the vote.
Barghouti was born in Jerusalem. The Barghoutis are a large extended family from the village of Deir Ghassaneh (in the Ramallah area) whose members also include imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, a distant cousin of Mustafa. Mustafa Barghouti is a medical doctor, trained in the former Soviet Union and Jerusalem. He also received a degree in management from Stanford University in the United States, as a Sloan Fellow. He currently lives in Ramallah.
In 1979, Barghouti founded the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, a non-governmental organization which provides health care and related services in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He continues to serve as the Union’s president. In 1989, Barghouti was one of the founders of theHealth, Development, Information and Policy Institute, a think tank representing an alliance of 90 Palestinian community organizations.
In 1991, Barghouti was a delegate to the Madrid Conference, which was held with the aim of ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the First Intifada. In 1996, he ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for a legislative seat in the first Palestinian Authority elections. In 2002 Barghouti left thePalestinian People’s Party. In June 2002, Barghouti, Haidar Abdel-Shafi, Ibrahim Dakkak and Edward Said established the Palestinian National Initiative (al-Mubadara al-Wataniyya al-Filistiniyya), an attempt to build a reformist, inclusive alternative to both the established Palestine Liberation Organization and to Islamic militant groups such as Hamas. Barghouti currently serves as the Initiative’s general secretary.
Barghouti has consistently criticized the PLO and Palestinian Authority for corruption. He supports non-violent resistance as the most effective means of overcoming Israeli occupation. According to a Reuters report, Bargouti “supports peace with Israel based on two states with a Palestinian state in all territory occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, a capital in Arab East Jerusalem and rights for refugees.” He has indicated that recognition of a right of return is a must, but that this could likely be implemented in a way mutually acceptable to both sides.
In 1996, Barghouti was injured while assisting victims of a violent clash between protestors and Israeli Defense Force soldiers in Ramallah. IDF soldiers fired near an area where medical personnel were working and shrapnel entered his shoulder. On January 3, 2003, he was arrested following an international press conference in East Jerusalem, on charges of disturbing the peace and entering the city illegally. During his detention, Barghouti was interrogated and suffered a broken knee, which, according to his account, was inflicted by blows from a rifle butt; he also reported that he received head injuries. He was released several days later.
Barghouti was a candidate in the election for Palestinian Authority president, to fill the vacancy created by the death of Yasser Arafat. In the announcement, Barghouti declared, “I will demand total and complete reform, fight any form of corruption, mismanagement, and consolidate the rule of law.” He was arrested by Israeli forces during the election campaign and subsequently expelled from East Jerusalem when he was going to hold an election speech there. He was also prevented from entering Nablus and Gaza. Barghouti came second in the elections, receiving 19.8% of the vote.
In December 2005, the Independent Palestine list, a coalition of independents and NGO members in the legislative elections scheduled for January 2006, announced Mustafa Barghouti as its top candidate. The list promised to fight corruption and nepotism, demand the dismantlement of what it termed the “apartheid wall“, and to provide
Barghouti was detained on Tuesday 3 January 2006 while campaigning in the Arab quarter of East Jerusalem and was taken for questioning to a local police station. A statement on his behalf read: “Dr Barghuthi was meeting with ordinary Jerusalemites near Damascus Gate, discussing their needs and the situation of Palestinians in east Jerusalem, when he was approached by six undercover Israeli security agents, arrested, and taken to the Russian Compound jail where he remains under detention.”
Barghouti was newly elected to a seat on the Palestinian Legislative Council in January 2006, along with one other member of the Independent Palestine list, after Independent Palestine won about 2.7% of the vote in the Council elections. He was Minister of Information in the short-lived Palestinian unity government of March–June 2007.
On October 28, 2009, Barghouti was a guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, alongside Jewish-American activist Anna Baltzer.
On February 3, 2010, Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Co-founder of the Peace People (Northern Ireland), stated that she had nominated Mustafa Barghouti for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.