Marwan Barghouthi

Marwan Barghouthi

Barghouti is the leader of Fatah in the West Bank. Considered a charismatic, popular and dynamic speaker, he emerged as an influential leader during the first Palestinian intifada from 1987 to 1993. Barghouti has been accused by Israel of having links to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a military offshoot of the Fatah movement which has claimed responsibility for numerous suicide bombings in Israel and been named as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. Barghouti, considered close to Arafat.

Born in Ram Allah on 6 June 1958, al-Barguti holds a BA in history and political sciences and a masters in international relations.

He was the liaison officer for the Palestinian Liberation Organisation in Amman and Tunis.

Imprisoned for six years for his role in the first Intifada (1987-1992), al-Barguti was deported to Jordan in 1987.

After the 1993 Oslo Accords he returned to the West Bank in April 1994 and took over as secretary general of Fatah in the West Bank, the dominant group in the Palestinian Legislative Council.

He considers any Palestinian who bargains over the 1967 borders a traitor, and believes that this issue may lead to the destruction of the Palestinian people. His popularity on the street was confirmed when he won a seat on the Palestinian Legislative Council standing as an independent candidate, though Arafat ensured that he was not on the Fatah-Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) list.

Enjoying good relations with the Islamic groups, al-Barguti is also critical of the centralisation of power under Arafat and accuses his officials of financial corruption.

A pragmatist, he believes that a permanent solution to the Middle East conflict can be found only if the mediator is changed. According to him, the US is too close to Israel to be an honest broker.

He was also one of the prominent leaders of al-Aqsa Intifada, which erupted in September 2000, triggering Israel to demand his extradition. An attempt to assassinate him was made on August 4, 2001.

Al-Barguti was arrested during a raid by Israeli security forces in March 2002, and is now being held. Israeli prosecutors are trying to link him to a spate of bomb blasts by Palestinians. Human rights organisations have reported that he has been tortured.

On 06 Jun 2004, An Israeli court Sunday jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Al-Barghouthi for life for resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestine but he said his people's statehood quest would not be broken.

"The (Israeli) occupation is going to end one day. It is dying," Al-Barghouthi, 45, said just before the Tel Aviv court handed down five consecutive life sentences against him. The court based its sentence on the killings of five people by Palestinians in his Fatah faction, thus holding him responsible for actions of others.

Al-Barghouthi, who denied involvement in actual resistance to the Israeli occupation of his country, received another 20 years for attempted murder and a further 20 for activity in a resistance group that Israelis and their supporters call "terrorist" group - 165 years in total - in a high-profile case that Palestinians denounced as a show trial.

The articulate Palestinian lawmaker, Marwan Al-Barghouthi, did not recognize the jurisdiction of the Israeli occupation court.

Supporters said Al-Barghouthi had no intention of appealing the verdict or asking the court for a reduced sentence.

In late 2004, following the death of Yasser Arafat, Barghouthi was touted as a candidate for the office of PNA President and initially attracted a great deal of popular support. At first it appeared that Fatah officials had dissuaded him from running, but he reversed his decision, and was registered as a candidate by his wife. The Fatah leadership announced that he was expelled from the Fatah, and that the Fatah would have only one candidate

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