Despite the prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas, thousands of other Palestinians remain in jail. RT talks to the wife of a high-profile prisoner, considered a terrorist by Israel, but a hero by Palestinians.
He is regarded by many as the Palestinian Nelson Mandela. The alleged founder of Fatah’s Tanzim armed wing, Marwan Barghouti has been imprisoned in Israel for nearly a decade, serving five life sentences for murdering five Israelis. Over the years, his release has been one of the major stumbling blocks in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal.
His wife, Fadwa Barghouti, insists the reason that Israelis are releasing other Palestinians with blood on their hands while her husband remains in jail comes down to pure politics.
“His judgment and sentencing in an Israeli court was all political. The Israelis put him in jail because he is the leader of the Palestinian people and the Israelis don’t want there to be Palestinian leaders,” she told RT. “He is a symbol of unity between Palestinians. The Israelis are afraid to release him because he can bring about reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.”
Marwan Barghouti (L) during an interview with the Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth at the Petah Tikva police station east of Tel Aviv, 17 June 2002, and Gilad Shalit (R) shown in an undated family hand out made available 26 June 2006. (AFP Photo/Zvika Tishler)
Another reason Israel has not released Marwan Barghouti, his wife continued, is because Israel is not ready for a real peace.
“They talk about peace, but they don’t work toward peace. Because of this, they don’t want Marwan out of jail,” she said. “If he was released, there could be a real chance for peace. Israelis are still building the separation law, they are still demolishing houses, demolishing olive trees, imprisoning people, building new settlements. If you look at all of this, you’ll see that Israel is not ready for real peace.”
Still, Israel has approved the swap deal with Hamas, under which captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was agreed to be exchanged for 1027 Palestinians jailed by the Israelis. Fadwa Barghouti believes that this was the result of pressure from inside Israel that made Netanyahu agree.
“Surveys show that most Israelis want Shalit to come home. But Netanyahu also has a political crisis to deal with, and this is a way to score points. He is only looking at Israeli people and not at anyone else,” she explains. “Also, if you look at Israeli society, when it really wants something it can pressure the government into giving it. It pressured Netanyahu to make this deal, but it’s not pressuring him to make peace.
“I say it again: Israelis do not want peace. If they really did, they’d pressure Netanyahu to make real and just one,” Fadwa Barghouti pointed out.