Peretz: Free Barghouti to help the Palestinian Authority

“In the current reality, it's important that the gov't make an effort to the Palestinian Authority over Hamas,” Peretz tells the 'Post.'

October 26, 2011 01:52
2 minute read.
Marwan Barghouti

Jailed Fatah member Marwan Barghouti 311. (photo credit: Oleg Popov / Reuters)


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MK Amir Peretz (Labor) called on Tuesday for Israel to release senior Fatah-Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti from prison.

“In the current reality, it is important that the government make an effort to the Palestinian Authority over Hamas,” Peretz told The Jerusalem Post. “We can take advantage of the deal [for soldier Gilad Schalit] to free 550 additional prisoners to release those prisoners that can help [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas, including Barghouti.

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“Today, the Palestinian leadership needs diplomats and statesmen, such as Abbas, but they also need people like Barghouti, a brave man who has grassroots support on the Palestinian street,” the Labor MK said.

Peretz has visited Barghouti in prison several times in recent years, and says that freeing him would make a peace agreement with the PA more secure. “There won’t be a question mark hanging over an agreement; Barghouti will ensure that it will be kept.”

However, Peretz said he has not spoken to Barghouti since the government made a deal with Hamas to free Schalit, and emphasized that the opinions he expressed were his own.

“I have promised to keep our discussions discreet,” Peretz said. “In any case, he represents the Palestinian viewpoint, and I represent the people of Israel. We disagree on many issues, but I still see him as a serious partner for peace.”

As the opening of Knesset’s winter session approaches, the Labor MK also warned against those who seek to pass laws that would limit the government’s ability to negotiate prisoner exchanges.

“I vehemently oppose such laws, which would harm the government’s ability to function and is a violation of checks and balances,” Peretz told the Post.

“If, God forbid, we have a similar situation again, the government needs all of the authority and responsibility,” he said. “Plus, this kind of law has the potential to disgrace the Knesset. After all, the government will just ask the Knesset to amend the legislation to suit whatever deal it wants, so what’s the point? “If the public doesn’t agree with the government, it can express itself in the voting booth,” Peretz said. “That’s how things work in a democracy.”.

Barghouti, 52, is serving five life sentences for five murders and 40 years imprisonment for an attempted murder.

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