Barghouti For Pollard Deal In The Press Again

Ezra HaLevi - Arutz Sheva News Service - April 16, 2006, 18 Nisan 5766

Army Radio reported Sunday that a plan is in the works to release jailed arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti in return for the release of Jonathan Pollard.

Pollard's wife Esther, however, told Army Radio that the rumor was nothing more than a public relations stunt to obscure the fact that the Olmert government refused to request Pollard's release last week, despite indications from the Bush administration that it would respond favorably to such a request.

Barghouti, who is serving multiple life-sentences for overseeing the terrorist murder of Israeli civilians, is a leading Fatah personality. If the report is to be believed, Barghouti's release would be an attempt to strengthen Yassir Arafat's waning Fatah group, which recently lost the mantle of Palestinian Authority leadership to the Hamas Islamic terror group.

Pollard, a former naval intelligence analyst who is serving a life-sentence for passing classified material to US ally Israel, is serving his 21st year in a maximum security US prison.

The radio report quoted an unnamed senior defense official as saying the deal has a good chance of being accepted, "as Barghouti could act to balance out Hamas."

Last time such a proposition was raised, it was rejected by Pollard himself. "I have always been opposed to gaining my freedom in exchange for the release of murderers and terrorists," Pollard said in 2004. "My position has not changed. I deserve to be released because my sentence is unjust and because the US has promised my release on more than one occasion, including a commitment by the president of the United States at the Wye Summit in 1998."

In Jerusalem's Old City Sunday, special prayers for Pollard, led by former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, were held in the main square of the Jewish Quarter. The event began at 10:30 AM and continued throughout the day.

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