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Barghouthi: Negotiations failed to release prisoners

Nov. 24, 2009 7:57 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 28, 2009 1:51 P.M.)
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Jailed Fatah Central Committee member Marwan Barghouthi said he regrets the failure of talks with Hamas and Israel to guarantee the release of Palestinians in Israeli prisons, a letter from the leader said Tuesday.

The letter, addressed to the International Conference on Detainees launched in Jericho told participants that “it is regrettable that the negotiations and agreements have failed to release the prisoners. The victims of this failure are the hundreds of prisoners who have been in jails for more than 32 years such as Na’el Al-Barghouti, Fakhry Al-Barghouthi, Karim Younis, Othman Musleh, Fuad Ar-Razemand and many others.”

It was not clear, however, whether the letter from Barghouthi was proclaiming as failed the most recent round of talks between Israel and Hamas via Germany over the possible release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the handing over of a captured Israeli soldier. Though some Israeli officials have sworn never to release Barghouthi "even if he is elected Palestinian President," the latest reports have hinted that he could be included if a swap is secured before Eid.

Focusing his letter on the poor treatment of Palestinians in Israeli prison, Barghouthi urged fellow detainees to boycott the Israeli courts and work on the development of a unified Palestinian strategy to show that the authority of the courts is not recognized by Palestinians. He said he considered the courts an integral part of the Israeli military system, working for its service over the past 42 years.

“The Palestinian prisoner is not only a victim of the Israeli occupation, but also of the Israeli civil and military courts," Barghouthi continued. He accused the courts of lacking the "minimum in proper legal procedures," and noted that "less than 1% of prisoners have been found 'not guilty' by Israeli courts."

Barghouthi took several paragraphs to explain the conditions in Israeli prisons, lamenting that "hundreds of sick prisoners who suffer from severe diseases, some of them are suffering to death, are not released instead they are being treated [in military health clinics]. There are also hundreds of women and children and hundreds of Palestinians in Administrative Detention, locked up without charge or due process. There are also dozens of prisoners in solitary confinement."

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