By Vic Rosenthal
I suspect that Condoleeza Rice had a hand in this:
JERUSALEM, Jan. 15 (UPI) — Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh Monday hinted that Palestinian Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti’s jail term ought to be shortened.
Barghouti is serving five life sentences on charges of involvement in assassinations during the intifada, or the Palestinian uprising.
However, from his prison cell he has been involved in Fatah affairs and in drafting a Palestinian document that implied recognition of Israel, acceptance of the pre-1967 lines and limitations on the use violence. Security prisoners belonging to other parties, including Hamas, have signed it.
This so-called “prisoners’ document” like everything else is not what the press would suggest. It calls for a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem (this has now become standard); the joining together of Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad into a unified PLO which will lead the Palestinians — the latter two don’t even pretend to accept a Jewish Israel of any size in the Mideast; the return of refugees and release of prisoners “on the land of the fathers and grandfathers” — Israel proper; and “the right of the Palestinian people in resistance and clinging to the option of resistance with the various means”. The UPI report is correct that there is a suggestion of limitations on violence — but just between Palestinian factions!
It makes no mention of recognition of Israel. Indeed, the word ‘Israel’ does not appear in any of its 18 points.
Sneh told diplomats and foreign correspondents in Jerusalem that Barghouti is “the most popular secular Palestinian leader.” He noted while Barghouti is serving time for his involvement in “terror attacks…One day Israel will have to consider how long he’ll serve in our jail.”
He may well be popular, but he is in jail after being convicted of five terrorist murders. Releasing him appears to a bad idea whose time has come. Barghouti is attractive as:
- Part of the ransom for Gilad Shalit, the kidnapped Israeli soldier held for more than 6 months now,
- Part of a package of concessions to be wrested from Israel in order to try to get help in Iraq from Arab ‘moderates’, and
- A better leader for the ‘moderate’ Fatah than the boring and weak Mahmoud Abbas.
In addition, there is the possibility that a ‘unity government’ of the major factions such as Barghouti calls for will qualify for international financial aid, despite the fact that violent terrorists are included — just the name will do the trick.