Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Rumor: Israel agrees to release Barghouti in exchange for Shalit

This is a headline on Haaretz today. How valid is this claim?

It's been known for a while now that Barghouti was thrown into the mix of discussions pertaining to the negotiations for the release of prisoners (Palestinians) and hostages (Shalit). However, Israel is not going to release him so soon.

In my opinion, Israel will only let Barghouti go Israel gets Shalit back, but in addition to this, only if Barghouti collaborates with Israel and serves her interests. Israel will not let him go without this pre-condition, because the implications are too dangerous.

First, Barghouti is a personality within the Fatah and the Palestinian population. His release will undoubtedly spark emotions and could act as a potential "uniting" factor between Hamas and the Fatah. Barghouti is far more capable than Abbas, and if his agenda is not changed, he will pose a security risk for Israelis by being elected and taking power from Abbas.

Barghouti can clash with Israel and US interests which is in favor of animosity between Hamas and the "moderate" Fatah.

In any case, we shouldn't get our hopes too high just yet. The release of Shalit will be a huge victory for Israel, but Israel can't afford to sacrifice security on a macro level.

Israel has agreed to free jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti in exchange for the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, the Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat quoted an Egyptian officials as saying on Tuesday.

The report says that Israel has become more flexible of late and is now interested in completing the deal that would involve the release of other Palestinian prisoners as soon as possible.

The official said that it was agreed that in the first stage of the agreement, Israel would release 100 Palestinian prisoners. In return, Gilad Shalit would be handed over to Egypt.

A week later another 150 prisoners would be released and Shalit would be returned to Israel. According to the report, a senior Hamas official is expected in the near future to arrive in Egypt to advance the negotiations.

Read article here


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