Marwan Barghouti was arrested during the first intifada, and then he was released according to the Oslo Accords. He was later convicted for murdering five civilians. Now Israel is being asked to free him again.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has asked American President Barack Obama to pressure Israel for the release of terrorist Marwan Barghouti.

“President Abbas demanded the release of the political leaders in jail like Marwan Barghouti, Ahmad Saadat and Fuad Shobaki,” said Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoner Club.

Abbas is looking to boost his popularity at home so he can carry on talks with Israel. According to several top officials, he is demanding the freedom of Barghouti as part of any deal to extend negotiations beyond the April deadline. Barghouti, a popular figure among Palestinians, is seen as a possible successor to the 78-year-old leader.

Under U.S. pressure Israel agreed to free 104 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture of goodwill to mark the resumption of direct peace talks. More than 70 of the prisoners have gone free since peace negotiations resumed. Palestinians are pushing for the final batch to be released by the end of March.

Convicted on Five Counts of Murder in an Israeli Court of Law

Barghouti himself is a freed terrorist who returned to killing once being released. He was arrested during the first intifada. He was deported to Jordan and then allowed to return to Israel under the Oslo Accords. Once out, he became a leader of the Tanzim, a terrorist group. On April 15, 2002, he was arrested by Israel Defense Forces in Ramallah, having been found guilty of the murder of a Greek monk, and four Israeli civilians. He was sentenced to five life sentences plus 40 years.

Among the other prisoners Abbas wants out, two more have blood on their hands. Ahmad Saadat is head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). He is serving a 30 year sentence for his involvement in the 2001 murder of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi.

Fuad Shobaki was convicted for his role in financing the Karine A weapons ship. He was imprisoned for smuggling 50 tons of Katyusha rockets, rifles, mortar shells, mines and a variety of anti-tank missiles from Iran. The ship was intercepted by Israeli naval commandos before it could unload at the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Threatens Resignation

The forthcoming prisoner release has some Israeli leaders up in arms. Two days prior to Abbas’s request, another terrorist who was given early release for political reasons was arrested at a checkpoint with a concealed knife.

“It would be moral bankruptcy to release Barghouti and his friends to continue the talks,” said Transportation Minister Israel Katz.

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon has written a letter to the prime minister, threatening to resign if more terrorists are released.

“The Palestinians have us wrapped around their little finger and are proud of it. They take advantage of our sincere desire for peace, while uttering threats of boycotts, in order to release terrorists from jail,” declared Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon.

Author: David Fink, Contributor, United with Israel

Date: Mar. 20, 2014