Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Israeli minister proposes trading Barghuti for Shalit

Al-Manar TV reports: An Israeli occupation minister said on Tuesday the Jewish state should exchange detained Palestinian Intifada leader Marwan Barghuti for an Israeli soldier captured by Gaza resistance fighters more than a year ago.
"Marwan Barghuti has a good chance of becoming the next Palestinian leader," Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, infrastructure minister and member of Israeli powerful security cabinet, told army radio.
"His release could allow the political negotiations to advance and bring about the liberation of Gilad Shalit," the Israeli occupation soldier was captured in a deadly cross-border raid by Palestinian fighters on June 25, 2006.
"All those who are thinking of Israel's security realize that there is no alternative to liberating Marwan Barghuti, as he is the strongman on the Palestinian side," he said.
Barghuti is the West Bank leader of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party and is widely regarded as the inspiration behind the Intifada that erupted in September 2000. He was arrested in 2002 and convicted in 2004 of five counts of murder and one of attempted murder resulting from three martyrdom attacks and an aborted attack. He is currently serving five life sentences. Barghuti's detention has not diminished his appeal on the Palestinian street - in January 2006 he was re-elected to parliament and is widely regarded as a possible successor to Abbas. Ben Eliezer said Barghuti's conviction should not prevent Israel from holding talks with the charismatic leader.
Israeli occupation officials said a prisoner exchange for Shalit had been agreed through Egyptian mediation with Hamas but that the talks broke down after the Islamic resistance movement controlled Gaza in mid-June.