Israel mulls releasing Barghouthi for Shalit

Israel is inching closer to the release of jailed Fatah armed-wing leader Marwan Barghouthi, during the second Intifada.

Israel mulls releasing Barghouthi for Shalit

Israel is inching closer to the release of jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, who is sentenced to five life terms for his activities with the Al-Aqsa Brigades, Fatah's armed wing, during the second Intifada, reported Ma'an news agency.

Bargouthi is top on the prisoners list which Hamas demands in swap with Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is trying to negotiate a last-minute deal with Hamas under which Israel would release 1,000 or more Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit.

One idea under discussion was the possibility of releasing Barghouthi ahead of the prisoner swap with Hamas, according to Israel's Channel 10 television. An Israeli political source told Reuters this option was under consideration but that no decisions had been taken.

Khader Shuqeirat, one of Barghuthi's lawyers, told Israel's Channel Ten that "It is a matter of days until Marawan will be free."

"No prisoner swap will be held without Marawan," said Shuqeirat, "Marawan will be with his family, wife and children within days."

"The deal is closer than ever. We think and hope it will be very, very soon, perhaps in a few days."

Barghouthi is seen as a possible successor to Abbas.

On Sunday, the official spokesperson of Hamas' armed wing, Abu Ubaida, issued a statement saying that Shalit, who has been held in Gaza since 2006, would not be handed over without the release of Palestinian prisoners Abbas As-Said, Abdallah Barghouti, and Ibrahim Hamad, all of whom are accused of plotting attacks inside Israel.

Hamas has insisted on the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit, including Barghouthi and other high profile leaders, such as PFLP Secretary-General Ahmad Sadat.

Barghouthi was sentenced by an Israeli court to five life terms after being found guilty on five counts of murder. He was arrested by Israel in the West Bank in April 2002 during a Palestinian uprising against Israel.

Israel last freed some 250 Palestinian prisoners in November, all aligned with Abbas's secular Fatah faction. Israel said the release was intended as a confidence-building measure to bolster Abbas and his Fatah faction.

Shkirat said relations between Barghouthi and Abbas were "very good" and that Abbas was regularly in touch with his client, who is being held in a prison in central Israel.

Agencies

Last Mod: 16 Şubat 2009, 17:06
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