CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - A report by a team of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officers submitted to Defense Minister Ehud Barak refutes the claim that releasing Palestinian activist Marwan Barghouti will unite rival Palestinian factions.
Barghouti, former head of Fatah's Tanzim militia who is serving five consecutive life sentences for murder, has been considered a key player in a prisoner swap for IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit.
The report states that Barghouti's release would not dramatically affect negotiations for Shalit, despite the fact that Hamas included his name on a list of security prisoners its demanding for the swap.
Several Israeli Cabinet ministers, including National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Bin-Eliezer, have stated publicly that Barghouti's release would strengthen the Palestinian Authority's Fatah faction against Hamas.
According to the report, Barghouti's popularity is strongest among Fatah commanders in Ramallah, but it does not extend to other PA-controlled cities such as Jenin and Nablus, where Hamas and Islamic Jihad cells are deeply entrenched.
The report also stated that Fatah's "old guard" wouldn't yield their positions to Barghouti and that the former Tanzim militia leader has been pretty much forgotten by the Arab press.
Source: The Jerusalem Post