Originally published in
Israel Insider, February 7, 2006
hot and heavy courtship of Marwan Barghouti by the Israeli
government is no secret.
Israel was under US pressure or was drawn to the "moderate
terrorist" of its own accord is now irrelevant. For while its
overtures failed to trump Hamas at the polls -- they did win
Barghouti the top Fatah spot.
In any sane
country, no prisoner would fantasize about a lifestyle like the one
Prisoner Barghouti led. Political meetings for his benefit were
routine during these elections. One 30-minute phone call with PA
Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was conducted from the office of the prison
warden. There were regular visits from an assortment of Palestinian
officials including Arab Knesset members. Shortly before the
elections, Israel Prison Service head Yaacov Ganot even authorized a
series of television interviews. One was with Britain's Channel 4,
in which Barghouti
said: "The Palestinian people, and it should be very clear, have
got the full right to resist against the Israeli military operations
in the occupied territories in any way... I support the Palestinian
intifada and Palestinian resistance."
government, by its conduct toward Barghouti, proclaimed: "And so do
was personally approved by Mr. Ganot who nevertheless insisted that
Barghouti did not "run the PA from his jail cell." Perhaps not, but
only just barely.
Is it any
wonder we are losing the battle against Palestinian terrorism? How
does enabling a terrorist to make incendiary public addresses
advance Israel's goals? All of Israel's counterterrorism tactics -
construction of the security fence, periodic arrests of Palestinian
terrorists, occasional targeted assassinations of terrorist leaders
-- are nullified by its molly-coddling of Barghouti.
a Palestinian opt for the terror route when he knows that, at the
very worst, he can jump-start his political career from an Israeli
It is unclear
what Israel intends to do with its favorite prisoner now that he is
a democratically elected parliamentarian. Two months ago, Israel's
Minister for Transport, Meir Shitreet, said: "If a permanent peace
deal is reached with the Palestinians, and if terrorism in the
region ceases totally... we can, of course, discuss a pardon."
A pardon --
for five murders.
added "Never say never."
Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra told The Jerusalem Post that
the government had no intention of releasing Barghouti in the
near future (italics added).
spokesman for Israel's Prison Service,
Domnitz, has repeatedly referred to Barghouti benignly as a
At some point
in the not-too-distant future it seems clear our politicians will
support Barghouti's release. Enjoying as they do 24 x 7 armed
protection at the public's expense, it is perhaps easy for them to
forget just what sort of prisoner Barghouti really is. How else to
explain the ease with which they contemplate the early release of
someone directly responsible for five murders and indirectly
responsible for many more?
Once upon a time there was an iron-clad principle that Israel does
not trade prisoners with "blood on their hands". This "red line" is
no longer mentioned. Without fanfare or warning it has been
those, like my husband and me, who find the Barghouti/Israel
courtship ignoble. Our daughter, Malki,
was murdered by Hamas terrorists, some of whom were subsequently
sheltered personally by Mr. Barghouti. The mockery our government
has been making of his sentence is an affront to Malki's memory. It
also demonstrates how little her death and our grief matter to
For us it is
obvious, especially now after Hamas' victory, that to court
Barghouti is to court disaster. The Hamas that was democratically
elected is the same Hamas that murdered Malki and hundreds of other
precious Jews. Its charter and stated goals have not changed one
It is also
the same Hamas with whom Barghouti has long had a close working
Alastair Crooke, a former senior British Intelligence
official, said in a
private policy paper reported last week by UPI
that: "The close relationship of mutual respect between Hamas and
Marwan [Barghouti] has long roots that pre-date the Intifada.
Neither, as far as I am aware, has made a policy statement of
substance without advising the other in advance? This relationship",
he concludes ". . . will be the key to the next phase of Palestinian
Israel has persisted in its courtship of Barghouti. Even as it
reiterates its refusal to negotiate with Hamas, it enables fresh
political messages from Barghouti to be beamed to the world.
everywhere ponder his future. Last week, for instance,
The Independent (UK) speculated whether ". . . Mohammed Dahlan
and the popular jailed West Bank leader, Marwan Barghouti might
pursue the 'Kadima' option . . ." They recognize that Barghouti is
still a star player in the new Middle Eastern political arena.
loyal wife has been campaigning in the international media for his
release. Palestinian officials and some Israeli organizations have
been outspoken Barghouti advocates alongside her. They make the
outlandish claim that Barghouti is a moderate leader who, once
released, can help balance the new Hamas majority. Some news sources
have suggested that a swap of Barghouti for Jonathan Pollard is on
government has allowed these efforts to gain dangerous momentum. It
is high time for it to respond to them with an unequivocal and
public denial of Barghouti's release. It should remind the amnesiac
world that this "moderate politician" is a murderer as well as the
confessed architect of the current Palestinian intifada.
it should banish him to his cell to begin serving his sentence in
the manner envisaged by the judges who sentenced him.
The writer, a freelancer, lives in Jerusalem. She manages the "Therapies
in the Home" program of the Malki Foundation on a volunteer