Israel denied a report that it has agreed to free jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti in exchange for Gilad Shalit.
Al-Hayat, an Arabic newspaper published in London, reported Tuesday that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has agreed to a Hamas demand to include Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences for five counts of murder, in a mass release of Palestinian prisoners. The deal would be part of an exchange for Shalit, the Israeli corporal who was kidnapped on the Gaza-Israel border in June 2006.
Several Israeli officials recently have called for clemency for Barghouti, a legislator from the relatively moderate Fatah faction, which is seen as a potential Palestinian counterweight to Hamas. But Olmert’s office denied that Barghouti, who was convicted of orchestrating terrorist attacks against Israelis, is a candidate for release.
“The issue is not on the agenda,” Olmert’s office said in a statement.
Hamas has demanded the release of more than 1,000 prisoners, including top terrorists, as ransom for Shalit. Israel is reviewing its criteria for such amnesties.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.