Barghouti slams Palestinian Authority for not securing release

April 17, 2013 at 7:11 AM
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JERUSALEM, April 17 (UPI) -- Imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti accused the Palestinian Authority of not doing enough to secure his release from an Israeli prison.

On the 11th anniversary of his imprisonment for his role in terror attacks against Israelis, Barghouti, an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said he can't "explain the official silence."

"For the first time in history, parliamentarians of an occupied people are detained, harassed and tortured while the international community and the Palestinian [leadership] remain silent. This is something that can't be explained," he said Tuesday.

The Israeli government refused to release Barghouti as part of the prisoner swap for soldier Gilad Schalit, The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday. There were reports he'd be released in February among 500 Palestinian prisoners as part of a goodwill gesture ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Israel, though that did not happen.

"Frankly, I believe that there wasn't enough pressure or efforts to force Israel to release me and the prisoners," Barghouti said. "The case of the prisoners was not on the agenda of the negotiations for the past 20 years."

"This is a real tragedy resulting from the Palestinian leadership's shortcomings and negligence," he added. "It's time for the Palestinian leadership to start dealing in a more responsible way with this important national issue."

Barghouti said he spends most of his time in prison studying and teaching other inmates.

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