Barghouti stated that in his opinion, "Olmert is a weak leader incapable of conducting real negotiations with the Palestinian side."
"Olmert's weakness, which is reflected in the three percent approval rate he is getting, explains why he cannot conduct negotiations. It appears Olmert barely gets his family's approval," he stated.
According to Barghouti, Israel was not genuinely interested in the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, and was therefore trying to avoid talks over a permanent agreement.
The information minister called on the international community to pressure Israel into accepting peace initiatives, most notably the Arab peace initiative, and agree to expanding the ceasefire as well as to a prisoner exchange deal.
'Israel guilty of war crimes'During the press conference, Barghouti also referred to a video published by Ynet Thursday, showing two Palestinian youngsters used by IDF soldiers as human shields.
"This is an example of the Israeli crimes, a small example which has incidentally been caught on camera. This constitutes a war crime and a blatant violation of human rights and international law, as well as a violation of the Israeli High Court of Justice's ruling," he stated.
Barghouti also accused Israel of committing war crimes by continuing to raze houses of Palestinians. He stressed that 10,400 Palestinian prisoners are still being held in Israel, adding that that many of then suffer from health problems. According to the minister, some 120 prisoners died in Israeli jails as a result of torture, and another 60 perished due to medical negligence.
The Palestinian minister also slammed Israel for meddling in internal Palestinian affairs, an approach which he said indicated that "the Olmert government seeks to replace the option of a sovereign Palestinian state with an autonomous authority that is under Israeli rule and operates under an apartheid regime. This we cannot accept."