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Jailed in Israel, Marwan Barghouti says he’ll be president of Palestine

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Marwan Barghouti, a convicted terrorist jailed in Israel, said he will be the president of a Palestinian state.

Barghouti also said in an interview reported Wednesday night on Israel’s Channel 10 and conducted jointly with the Haaretz newspaper that he would not promise that there would not be a third intifada — unlike Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — though he believes it could be a nonviolent uprising.

Military censors did not allow the actual film of the interview to be broadcast. Instead, Barghouti’s comments were repeated by reporters. The interview had taken place last month during Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza.

A member of the ruling Fatah party led by Abbas, Barghouti is among the most popular Palestinian leaders. Fatah controls the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and officially supports the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Barghouti is serving five consecutive life sentences and an additional 40 years for terrorist activity. He was arrested on April 15, 2002.

In the interview, he reportedly said he would not compromise on the right of return to Israel for Palestinian refugees and their descendants, saying the right of return is "sacred." Abbas earlier this month said he did not need to return to his hometown of Safed.

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