JERUSALEM – Israel could release jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouthi if Washington grants clemency to a U.S. Navy analyst convicted of spying for the Jewish state in the 1980s, Israel’s Army Radio said on Sunday.
It said Israel plans to propose the swap for Jonathan Pollard once acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is sworn in.
Israel would hope to convince the Bush administration that freeing Barghouthi, a senior figure in the once-dominant and pragmatic Fatah movement, would weaken the new Palestinian government under Islamist group Hamas, Army Radio said.
Barghouthi is serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison for masterminding Palestinian militant attacks. In public, Israeli officials have ruled out his release.
U.S. administrations have been similarly firm on Pollard serving out a life term handed down for treason, despite calls for a pardon from Israel and fellow U.S. Jews…
“This is all about Barghouthi, not Pollard. They want to free Barghouthi,” [Jonathan Pollard’s wife, Esther] said. “Barghouthi will go free and Jonathan will stay in prison.”
Long touted as successor to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Barghouthi remains politically active behind bars. He has struggled to shore up Fatah since Hamas beat it in Palestinian elections in January — a major setback to U.S.-led efforts to stem more than five years of Middle East bloodshed…
Peace seeking Israelis seem to be continually looking for someone among the Palestinians with whom they can negotiate a permanent peace. While Arafat lived, the failure of the peace process could be blamed directly upon him, rather than the religious ideology to which he adhered. Islam is explicit: no permanent peace is allowed between Muslims and non-Muslims and Islam requires that Muslims re-conquer territories lost to Islamic rule. As Bat Ye’or points out, the problem with Israel from the Muslim standpoint is that the formerly dhimmi Jewish population threw off the Muslim yoke and achieved independence and self rule on ground Muslims view as permanently and irrevocably theirs. Muslims are thus required to re-conquer this ground in order to re-impose Islamic law upon it. Any Jews surviving would be reduced once more to the status of dhimmis.