IDF Opens Hevron Road to Arabs
(IsraelNN.com) The IDF will open the main road in the Jewish neighborhoods of Hevron to Arab traffic, according to Army Radio. The road had been closed to Arabs for the past 15 years.
The decision is expected to be approved this week by the top IDF brass. In addition, the IDF is considering the possibility of reopening Arab stores throughout the Jewish neighborhood.
On Tap: Freeing Jailed Murderer Barghouti for Kidnapped Shalit
(IsraelNN.com) The Cabinet went on silent mode Sunday, issuing no statement in its post-meeting communiqué on a position vis-à-vis an Egyptian proposal for a truce with Hamas and reports of a deal for freeing kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Prior to the meeting, a handful of Shas and Kadima ministers made a point of publicizing their views that the government must "pay the price" and swap high-level terrorists for the return of the soldier, kidnapped nearly 1,000 days ago.
On Saturday night, however, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert took a harder line, insisting that the Gaza crossings would not reopen until the Hamas terrorist organization returned the abducted soldier.
Both Olmert and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter have been careful in their statements to the media to avoid saying whether they are now willing to trade the top four terrorists demanded by Hamas in exchange for the young soldier's life.
In the past, Israel has refused to include these specific terrorists due to the enormity of their crimes.
Among them, and number one on the list demanded by Hamas, is Tanzim terror leader Marwan Barghouti.
Who is Marwan Barghouti?
Marwan Bin Khatib Barghouti, 49, became a political icon on the Palestinian Authority street during the first and second intifadas.
The leader of the al-Mustaqbal faction which split from Fatah, Barghouti enjoys wide popularity among PA Arabs.
From his jail cell in an Israeli prison, he ran in the 2004 PA presidential elections after the death of Yasser Arafat, having been registered as an independent candidate by his wife. At the last minute, however, he was persuaded by Fatah officials to abandon his campaign and support Mahmoud Abbas in the interests of unity.
He has remained in prison, serving five life terms for his conviction on five counts of murder, as well as a sentence of 40 years' imprisonment for attempted murder.
Lifelong History of Terror
Born in Ramallah, he began his career as a terrorist while still in his teens, joining Fatah at the age of 15 and by the time he was 18 years old, he had already been arrested by Israel for involvement in terrorist activities.
Eleven years later, in 1987, he became one of the top leaders of the first intifada, resulting in another arrest by Israel and deportation to Jordan.
Despite his almost life-long history of terrorism, Barghouti was allowed to return to Israel seven years later, in 1994, as a result of the Oslo Accords. Within two years he was elected as a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), also serving as secretary-general of Fatah in Judea and Samaria.
At the advent of the second intifada, Barghouti became head of the Tanzim, the armed branch of Fatah that often clashed with the IDF.
He was placed on Israel's "most wanted "list in 2001 and was finally arrested in 2002.
He was convicted in a civil court on five counts of murder, on May 20, 2004, although he managed to be acquitted on 21 counts of murder that stemmed from 33 other attacks.
Barghouti was sentenced on June 6, 2004 to five sentences of life in prison for the five counts of murder , in addition to 40 years' imprisonment for attempted murder.
PA Politician from Prison
Barghouti earned a name for himself among the "common man" as a warrior against corruption in the PA government, specifically in the Fatah faction and in the administration of Yasser Arafat. He spoke out often against human rights violations perpetrated by Arafat's security force.
Unlike many other terrorist leaders, Barghouti also made a point in his public speeches of clarifying that he opposed terror attacks on civilians "inside Israel, our future neighbor." However, he said, he reserved the right to "resist the Israeli occupation of my country and to fight for my freedom." He did not defend himself in court, insisting the entire proceeding was illegal.
Barghouti has continued to be active in PA politics, albeit from an Israeli jail cell. He formed a new political party in December 2005 (al-Mustaqbal, "The Future"), comprised of Fatah members who were dissatisfied with the "old guard" corruption. Among the members were rising young "stars" such as Mohammed Dahlan, Kadoura Fares and Jibril Rajoub.
However, when it became apparent that his legislative seat would be jeopardized, he reversed his position and instead ran as a Fatah candidate in the January 2006, easily retaining his seat as a lawmaker.
Barghouti was also involved in putting together a unity document designed to bring together the diverse factions of the PA terror groups, called the National Conciliation Document of the Prisoners.
The document was signed by convicted terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) terrorist organizations. Initiated by Barghouti, the document was intended to form the basis for a PA unity government to be established in the PLC.
The controversial piece of text in the document was the sentence implicitly recognizing Israel by calling for negotiations with the State of Israel in order to achieve lasting peace.