Israelis Mull Barghouti Release

By Ori Nir

Published April 21, 2006, issue of April 21, 2006.
  • Print
  • Share Share

WASHINGTON — Israeli officials this week denied press reports that individuals close to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were cooking up a deal in which imprisoned Fatah strongman Marwan Barghouti would be freed in exchange for the release by the Bush administration of Jonathan Pollard, the American naval intelligence analyst who received a life sentence in 1986 for spying for Israel.

The administration is said to be completely uninterested in such a deal. According to some Israeli reports, Pollard’s supporters floated the idea.

However, sources said that while a swap is implausible, Israeli officials are considering the possibility of releasing Barghouti under certain circumstances. Barghouti, considered the most popular and charismatic figure in the younger generation of Fatah leadership, was sentenced in 2004 to five consecutive life terms for leading the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and for ordering the murder of Israelis. While in prison, he led Fatah’s parliamentary slate in the Palestinian legislative elections this past January. He is widely seen as the only figure that could regroup Fatah and provide legitimacy to future negotiations with Israel if and when the Hamas government falls.

“Most senior officials in the political system and in the security apparatus realize that at some point, this man will have to be released because he’s probably the only one with whom we could sign an agreement,” said Shlomo Brom, a former top intelligence analyst now serving as a scholar at the congressionally funded United States Institute of Peace. “If the imperative is to bring about the collapse of the Hamas government as soon as possible, then it is also imperative to prepare for the day after.”

Brom and other Israeli experts noted, however, that Barghouti’s release would pose enormous political difficulties in the foreseeable future because of the likelihood of a public-opinion backlash. Paradoxically, Brom said, the more terrorism and anarchy intensify, the more difficult it would be for Israeli politicians to release him because the Israeli public will grow more resentful of the brigades and their leader.






Find us on Facebook!
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.