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Concerning the Prisoner Swap Deal

Yesterday, I made this observation as one of many concerning the release of Azzam Azzam:

This seems like good news for those of you who, like me, cannot stand the thought of Marwan Barghouti being released from prison. As recently as last month, there was talk of a possible Pollard-Azzam/Barghouti prisoner release deal. With the release of Azzam today, Barghouti’s chances of release are slimmer. This is especially true, considering Egyptian Prime Minister Mubarak’s opposition to the idea of Barghouti running for the position of PA leader.

According to WorldNetDaily, I could not have been more wrong:

Egypt’s release today of Israeli businessman and accused spy Azzam Azzam is connected to a deal that may also free convicted terrorist and Palestinian Authority presidential candidate Marwan Barghouti, a senior Palestinian diplomatic source told WorldNetDaily.

 

The source, who is part of Barghouti rival Mahmoud Abbas’ presidential campaign and who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Azzam’s release was negotiated by Israel several months ago with the help of Egypt’s intelligence chief Omar Suleiman during ongoing discussions about Egypt’s role in possibly assuming security control of the Gaza Strip after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s unilateral withdrawal plan is implemented next year.

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“[Azzam’s] release is part of a campaign that is supposed to free Barghouti,” said the source. “Azzam has been held by Egypt as a significant bargaining chip. No one should believe he was freed for a few low level students.”

 

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz denied Azzam’s release was connected to the release of the Egyptian students, saying the timing of the two events was a “coincidence.” Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, however, later contradicted him, calling the two events “one deal.”

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Even with most in Jerusalem officially dismissing the possibility of releasing Barghouti, Israeli Interior Minister Avraham Poraz said, “We are looking for a partner for the Gaza withdrawal. It seems that this will have to include releasing prisoners … [perhaps even] including Barghouti.”

 

The freeing of Azzam has been connected many times to Pollard. Pollard’s release was a central component of the 1998 Wye River Summit, and was to coincide with Egypt freeing Azzam. When Pollard was discussed again at the Camp David peace summit in 2000, there were reports Egypt might free Azzam.

 

Pollard told WND he is “completely opposed” to the possibility of being released from prison in a deal that would also release Barghouti, whom he refers to as “a mass murderer of Jews.”

 

Pollard accuses Israel of grooming Barghouti to succeed the late PA leader Yasser Arafat, holding a series of clandestine meetings with Barghouti throughout his imprisonment.

 

“Officially, Israel insists it will never free Marwan Barghouti. He is a murderer sentenced to multiple life sentences. Freeing him, they claim, would undermine the rule of law. Unofficially, sources, including one very close to the prime minister, admit that Israel has been grooming Barghouti in prison to be the next leader of the Palestinian people,” said Pollard.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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