Israel: Barghouti release not on agenda

Follows 'Al Hayat' report that Israel agreed to swap imprisoned Tanzim leader for Gilad Schalit.

barghouti 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
barghouti 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Imprisoned Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti's release is not on the agenda, the Prime Minister's Office said on Tuesday. The PMO's statement followed an Al-Hayat report that a deal had been reached to exchange Barghouti for captured IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit. According to the London-based newspaper, while agreeing to free Barghouti, Israel refused demands to release Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar and Palestinian terrorist Amna Muna. Kuntar is serving a life sentence for the 1982 kidnapping and murder of four Israelis, among them a four-year-old girl. Muna was convicted of luring an Israeli teenager she met in an Internet chat room into Ramallah, where he was ambushed and shot in 2000. According to the report, based on a "senior and trustworthy Egyptian source" senior Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal will travel in person to Cairo to seal the deal. The source also said that the Israeli special envoy on the release of captured soldiers, Ofer Dekel, told Egyptian officials that the deal would "strengthen the Olmert government." Dekel reportedly visited Barghouti several times in recent weeks. The encounters refused comment upon by Dekel himself, and first confirmed then denied by the Israeli Prison Service. Barghouti is currently serving five life terms for involvement in terror attacks against Israelis.