ISRAELI MINISTER: FREE BARGHOUTI

A senior political ally of the Israeli prime minister has said that Israel should release its most prominent Palestinian prisoner – a man convicted in fatal attacks on Israelis – in a bid to prop up Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

Barghouti is the most popular leader in the Palestinian territories, and is widely regarded as the only figure able to unify clashing Palestinian factions, rein in militants and get peacemaking with Israel moving again.

“If we want to blunt Hamas’s capabilities … and if we ultimately want a civil rather than a religious government like those taking shape across the Arab world, we have to make a contribution,” Ezra told Army Radio, in defence of freeing Barghouti.

“I think it could definitely help Abu Mazen [Abbas].”

Power vacuum

Abbas and his Fatah loyalists are engaged in an increasingly deadly power struggle with the ruling Hamas faction, which rejects Israel’s right to exist and unseated Fatah in elections last year.

The infighting has weakened Abbas as he tries to relaunch long-stalled peace talks with Israel, which considers him a legitimate negotiating alternative to Hamas.

Miri Eisin, Ehud Olmert’s spokeswoman, said the release of Barghouti – who is serving five life sentences for the murders of four Israelis and a Greek monk – was “not on the agenda”.

But Ezra, a member of Olmert’s Kadima party, said Israel has freed “much worse murderers” in the past.

Several weeks ago, the deputy defence minister, Ephraim Sneh of the Labour party, also championed Barghouti’s release.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: