Marwan Barghouti, leader of Fatah’s Tanzim in the West Bank, center, is seen in the Tel Aviv District Court on Aug.14, 2002. On this, the first day of the trial, Mr. Barghouti was charged by Israel with murder, accessory to murder, incitement to murder and membership and activity in a terrorist organization. Israeli officials claim Mr. Barghouti was the leader in organizing terrorist attacks by the Fatah militia. (Debbie Hill/UPI)

The Israeli security establishment is examining the release of a convicted multiple murderer – Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti – as a means of strengthening Fatah chairman and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israeli security sources confirm that the idea will be to place a strongman next to Mr. Abbas who could succeed him in future and counter the rise in Hamas’ strength.

Mr. Barghouti’s release is complicated from a legal standpoint and would require a pardon from Israeli President Shimon Peres.

The background of Mr. Barghouti’s involvement with terrorism and the incitement of terrorism is now under scrutiny in Israel.

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On Jan. 22, 1995, after Hamas massacred 19 Israelis at a bus stop in Beit Lid – a village near the coastal city of Netanya, located within Israeli territory – Mr. Barghouti declared on the Saudi-owned MBC television network that “we cannot condemn such an attack, since this is an area that we have not yet liberated.”

Mr. Barghouti hammered out cooperative agreements in Cairo between Hamas and the PA from 1995 until his imprisonment in 2002, according to the semi-official Egyptian daily al-Ahram. He continues to do so today from prison.

According to Israeli intelligence sources and in the indictment issued against him, Mr. Barghouti, on the outbreak of the Palestinian rebellion known as the Second Intifada in 2000, became the head of a joint coordinating body of all Palestinian organizations in the West Bank – including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Fatah-affiliated al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. The American and the Israeli governments list all three as terrorist groups.

While it is widely assumed that Mr. Barghouti was only “indirectly” responsible for the murder of innocent people, he was convicted in May 2002 of first-degree murder for the cold-blooded killing of 13 innocent civilians. The Israeli Justice Ministry provided documentation that Mr. Barghouti made direct payments to commission killers to commit wanton acts of murder.

He was convicted in the murders of: Salim Barakat, 33, from the Druze village of Yarka in the Galilee, who survived by his wife, daughter, parents and seven brothers and sisters; Eli Dahan, 53, of Lod, who is survived by his mother Sarah, wife, Ilana, two daughters, two sons and three grandchildren; Yosef Habi, 52, of Herzliya, who is survived by his wife, son and daughter; Fr. Georgios Tsibouktzakis, 34, a Greek Orthodox monk from St. George’s Monastery in Wadi Kelt near Jericho; and Yoela Chen, 45, of Givat Ze’ev, who is survived by her husband and two children.

Nor are they Mr. Barghouti’s only victims. At his trial, people who were maimed as a result of Barghouti-sponsored attacks appeared as witnesses to the pain he caused them – pain they will experience for the rest of their lives.

Chicagoan Alan Bauer and his 7-year-old son, Jonathan, were among those witnesses. They were five minutes from their home in Jerusalem when a Barghouti-funded suicide bomber blew himself up three feet away from them on March 21, 2002. Two arteries in Mr. Bauer’s arm were severed. A screw went all the way through little Jonathan’s head. To this day, Jonathan walks with a limp.

According to the court protocols, Mr. Barghouti proudly admitted that he directed terrorist attacks in which scores of Israelis were killed and revealed how he directly allocated funds needed by terrorist cells to operate and purchase necessary weapons.

He stated that Yasser Arafat personally authorized this funding for Tanzim activities, knowing that this money would be used to finance murderous attacks.

Furthermore, protocols of interrogations of PA officials before the trial showed how the process worked: names of Tanzim killers were submitted to Mr. Barghouti, who would routinely take them to Mr. Arafat for approval.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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