Restrictions on Barghouti eased

Political echelon's orders to Prison Authority allow jailed leader to campaign.

barghouti poster298 88ap (photo credit: AP)
barghouti poster298 88ap
(photo credit: AP)
The Prisons Service has been ordered by the political echelon to ease restrictions on jailed Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti and to allow him to hold routine political meetings in jail in the run-up to the Palestinian elections, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Officials said Monday that head of the Prisons Service (IPS) Ya'acov Ganot approves every visitor Barghouti, who is the Fatah's top candidate for the January 25 parliamentary elections, receives and every phone call he is allowed to make. Last week, officials revealed, Barghouti was allowed to conduct a 30-minute phone call with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas from the warden's office at the Hadarim Prison in northern Israel where he is serving five life terms in prison. "Due to his new status within the Palestinian Authority we have decided after consultations with the political echelon and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) to allow him these special conditions," one senior Prisons Service officer said. Barghouti regularly receives visits from Palestinian officials such as Mohammed Dahlan - a senior Fatah leader in the Gaza Strip - to Israeli Arab Knesset Members. One Palestinian newspaper even runs a daily column featuring who Barghouti met with the previous day alongside a similar column for the PA Chairman Abbas. Ganot confirmed to The Post on Monday that he personally approved every single meeting Barghouti held in prison. "Without my approval he does not get to hold the meetings," Ganot said. "Everything is up to me and my consideration." While Ganot claimed that Barghouti did not "run the PA from his jail cell," Palestinians said it was quite clear that by allowing the jailed Palestinian leader to hold meetings in prison, the Israeli government was essentially allowing him to run a political campaign from behind bars.