Jailed Fatah official Marwan Barghouti.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said on Wednesday that his movement is interested in freeing Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti and other prisoners from Israeli jails.
Mashaal, who was speaking to Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip via video conference, said the issue of a prisoner exchange with Israel is not on the table at this stage.
He said that Hamas would not offer any details about the remains of soldiers held by his movement, unless Israel agrees to release all prisoners who were rearrested by the IDF after being released in the Gilad Schalit prisoner swap.
“We are interested in the release of Marwan Barghouti and [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader] Ahmed Sa’dat and all the prisoners,” Mashaal said. “But there won’t be any negotiations before Israel releases the prisoners [from the Schalit deal],” he added.
Mashaal praised the current “intifada” against Israel and called on the Palestinian Authority to halt security coordination with Israel. He said that the “intifada” should be accompanied by “diplomatic work in line with an effective strategy endorsed by politicians.”
Mashaal said that the “intifada has sent three important messages on the local and international arenas.”
The first message, according to Mashaal, is that the Palestinians won’t allow Israel to divide the Aksa Mosque compound (the Temple Mount). He said the second message, which is directed to the Americans, is that their efforts to calm the situation won’t bear fruit as long as Islamic holy sites are harmed. The third message, Mashaal added, is directed to the PA leadership – that it needs to take action in the international arena to stop Israeli “crimes.”
The Hamas leader said Israel has discovered that its efforts to “bury” the “intifada” have failed. “The Palestinians will prevail and there’s no doubt about that,” he added. “This is a real intifada and it must be supported. The Aksa intifada [the second intifada of 2000-2005] liberated Gaza and this intifada will liberate Jerusalem and the West Bank.”
He also said that Hamas was keen on maintaining its good relations with Iran.