Abdullah Iyad Barghouti, who has been mentioned as one of the Hamas officials currently jailed in Israel that the organization demands in return for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, does not believe he will be freed in the near future, and blames Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for sabotaging the deal.
"There is no way the deal will be executed soon, Netanyahu does not want to execute the deal, he is busy with many other things," Barghouti said Sunday afternoon at a hearing on the conditions of his imprisonment at the Nazareth District Court. The hearing addressed whether or not Barghouti should remain in confinement.
After he told the court that there is "no way" he believes in the Israeli court system, he responded to questions by reporters - in fluent Hebrew. He stated that if he were to be released, he would continue to "fight the occupation." When asked if he was referring only to the occupation in Gaza or in other places, such as Nazareth, he said: "The occupation in all of Palestine".
Barghouti answering questioning in court on Sunday (Photo: Hagai Aharon)
Of the prisoner exchange deal he said, "I was the third name in the deal, Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Saadat were before me. Hagai Hadas signed, the German mediator signed, and Hamas signed. When it reached Netanyahu, he zigzagged and caved. He is more concerned with other things. For example, he is far more concerned with Kadima."
In response to a question on the captive soldier's condition, he said, "As far as I know he is 100% okay, he is normal, he eats, he drinks, he sleeps. We do not hurt our prisoners."
Barghouti, a relative of jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti but a member of the rival Hamas organization, is considered the movement's "engineer". He was convicted of involvement in terror attacks that claimed many victims, including the suicide attacks in Café Moment and Sbarro in Jerusalem, the Sheffield Club in Rishon Lezion, and the bus 4 line in Tel Aviv.
In total, Barghouti was responsible for the murder of 66 Israelis and the injury of some 500. In 2004 Barghouti was sentenced to 67 life sentences.
In the past two years Barghouti's name has come up repeatedly as one of the "four officials" that Israel refuses to release and that make up the main obstacle standing before the completion of a prisoner swap. The list also includes Marwan Barghouti, Ahmad Saadat and Hamas member Ibrahim Hamed, who is considered head of the organization's military wing in the West Bank.
According to other reports, the list of prisoners Israel refuses to release includes other members of Hamas' military wing such as Abbas a-Sayed, Jamal Abu al-Hija, Hassan Salameh and a number of female terrorist.