MENL: Israel Grooms Jailed Fatah Leader

Middle East Newsline - July 5, 2005


When Jonathan Pollard broke the news nearly a year ago in his 20th Anniversary of Incarceration Speech, that he had learned from informed sources that Israel was grooming convicted murderer Marwan Barghouti as a leader, his words were largely dismissed. Not a single news agency was interested in reprinting or even exploring the story to get to the facts. Eight months later Yediot Achronot "broke" the news about Barghouti's impending release all over again, and thereby confirmed Jonathan's statements. Now MENL does the same. It should be noted that the Government of Israel has no parallel plan to secure the release of Jonathan Pollard. Ayfoh Ha'boosha?


-- Israel has been quietly grooming a jailed Fatah leader as the next chairman of the Palestinian Authority. Israeli sources said the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was preparing to release Marwan Barghouti by 2006. They said Barghouti would be released as part of an Israeli effort to find a successor to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

"Abbas is fading fast and Sharon knows that Israel has to either help groom a successor who is willing to make peace or face Hamas," an Israeli source said.

Barghouti was sentenced to life in prison for the killing of several Israelis in 2002. As Fatah secretary-general in the West Bank, Barghouti see-sawed between being a harsh critic of the late Yasser Arafat and a leading organizer of the Palestinian war in 2000.

In December 2004, Barghouti warned that he would run for PA chairman against Abbas. But the sources said Israel and the United States pledged that Barghouti would be released from prison if he dropped his candidacy.

The sources said Barghouti could be released from prison as early as October, in wake of the planned Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank. They said Sharon has been alarmed by the loss of control by Abbas over Fatah and PA security agencies.

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