Jailed Fatah member Marwan Barghouti 311.
(photo credit: Oleg Popov / Reuters)
MK Amir Peretz (Labor) called on Tuesday for Israel to release senior
Fatah-Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti from prison.
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“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.
“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.”
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
“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
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.
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