In Jail from Last 21 Years ‘Marwan al-Barghouti’ Emerges as Potential Palestinian Authority President

The potential exchange of Palestinian prisoners for Israeli hostages has thrust Fatah leader Marwan al-Barghouti into the spotlight. Recently, his name surfaced as a potential new president of the Palestinian Authority, amid Hamas’ insistence on the release of all Palestinian prisoners as a condition for any deal.

Hamas spokesperson Osama Hamdan reiterated their stance, emphasizing the release of all Palestinian detainees without conditions, framing it as a national duty. This stance has been consistent, referencing past agreements such as Operation Wafa al-Ahrar.

Reports from the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv in February of last year alleged that Marwan al-Barghouti aimed to incite unrest in the West Bank, leading to his transfer to ‘Ofar Jail’ and subsequent solitary confinement. Israel’s National Security Minister supported this decision.

The transfer drew criticism from the Palestinian Prisoners and Liberators Affairs Commission. Despite calls for his release, Israel refused to comply.

Marwan al-Barghouti’s political journey began at 15 when he joined Fatah under Yasser Arafat’s leadership. Over the years, he has become a prominent advocate for Palestinian rights and self-defense against Israeli occupation.

In 2002, al-Barghouti emphasized in the Washington Post that while he opposed targeting Israeli civilians, he reserved the right to resist occupation and fight for Palestinian freedom.

Political observers speculate that al-Barghouti, who has been imprisoned since 2002, could be a consensus candidate to lead the Palestinian Authority if an agreement is reached. Hamas maintains that leadership should be determined by the Palestinian people through elections.

Despite his incarceration, al-Barghouti remains popular among Palestinian voters, as indicated by a December 2023 poll.

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