Barghouti: Israel doesn't want peace

Says "occupation will end soon. 2008 will be a year of hope and independence for Palestinians."

Barghouti 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Barghouti 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
"Israel has not made a strategic decision to make peace with the Palestinians," Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti said in an interview with the Saudi paper Al Wattan on Sunday. "What is demanded of Israel now is that it announce clearly that it is ready to end the occupation, retreat from occupied territories, remove settlements and checkpoints, stop seizing land, release prisoners, stop the siege of the Gaza Strip and stop the operations of killing and destruction," he added. Barghouti added that he was optimistic regarding Israel ending its "occupation" and restoring the Palestinian identity. "I sincerely believe the occupation will end soon. 2008 will be a year of hope and independence for Palestinians. It will be the year of releasing prisoners and national unity," he said. Barghouti, formerly Fatah's secretary-general in the West Bank who is serving five life sentences for his role in terrorist operations, said he does not support calls within Fatah to make changes in Salaam Fayad's government. The organization will not make changes to the Palestinian government "until there are new elections and [Fatah] will have a majority. Until then Fatah will support the government, which is carrying out the policy of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas," Barghouti said. "Hamas has to forgo its rule of the Gaza Strip as preparation for a national dialogue," Barghouti told the paper. "Hamas has to take initiative and make the first move, which is returning the Gaza institutions to the control of Abbas. The dialogue which will ensue between Hamas and Fatah will lead to elections for parliament, as well the authority's chairman," Barghouti said.