Jailed Fatah arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti told a Jordanian newspaper on Thursday he was disappointed with the prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel.
“We welcome the exchange deal which saw the release of hundreds of strugglers who had spent many years in occupation prisons,” Barghouti told Jordan’s al Ghad newspaper.
“But we were hoping that the deal would also include 130 strugglers, most of them from Fatah, who have spent more than 20 years in prison. It’s unfortunate that this was bypassed,” he added.
Hamas had initially insisted on including Barghouti in the prisoner exchange, but later abandoned the demand when Israel refused.
Reports that Barhgouti might be included in the 1,027 terrorists freed in exchange for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit created outrage in Israel forcing the government to race to assure its populace he would remain behind bars.
Barghouti, who was arrested by the IDF in 2002 in Ramallah, was tried and convicted on five charges of murder and sentenced to five life sentences plus forty years for an additional charge of attempted murder.
While Barghouti was convicted for five counts of murder — including three civilians in the Sea Food Market attack in Tel Aviv — Israeli officials maintain he is behind at least 21 other murders in 33 other attacks.
The political activism of Barghouti from prison has been decried by nationalists in Israel.
Not only is Barghouti allowed frequent interviews with the media, but he has actively served as a go-between in talks between Hamas, the PFLP, Islamic Jihad, the DFLP and PLO officials.
Barghouti also negotiated the 2007 compromise between Fatah and Hamas from prison, opening the door to ongoing unity talks that came to fruition this week.
On Thursday Hamas — which continues to call for the murder of Jews and destruction of Israel — announced it would be joining the PLO and forming a unity government with Fatah, signaling a shift by the Palestinian Authority towards armed conflict with Israel.
Earlier this week, PLO official Wasel Abu Yousuf said the PLO had decided on “a strategy based on continuous efforts along with the international community to secure full recognition and full United Nations membership, pursuing internal reconciliation, and keeping up the popular resistance.”
The PLO charter continues to assert, “Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. This it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase.”
It also maintains “Palestine” is defined by the British Mandate and is “indivisible” – thus leaving no room for Israel to exist at all.
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