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      Growing Cabinet Opposition to Freeing Barghouti

      Another Cabinet minister has spoken out against freeing terrorist Marwan Barghouti for the safe return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
      By Tzvi Ben Gedlayahu
      First Publish: 12/12/2009, 8:48 PM / Last Update: 12/12/2009, 8:44 PM

      Israel news photo

      Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov has added his name to a growing list of Cabinet ministers who are against including convicted terrorist Marwan Barghouti in the list of terrorists who might be freed for the safe return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

      Misezhnikov, of the Israel Our Home (Yisrael Beiteinu) party, said Saturday, “Barghouti has become a symbol of[Palestinian Authority] armed violence and spilling of blood, and he must not be included in any deal to free Shalit."

      Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, of the Likud party, has flatly stated that Barghouti’s name is not on the proposed list of terrorists to be released, but Hamas insists the opposite. Barghouti has stated he would oppose leaving his Negev call if Israel insists he be deported to a foreign country.

      Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of Israel Out Home, also has said he will fight against any proposal to free Barghouti.

      Barghouti, arrested in 2002, is serving five life terms in prison for his involvement in murderous attacks on Israel. He told CNN two days ago that he has not changed his political views since being in prison and did not directly a question whether or not he supports the use of violence.

      Likud Minister Gilad Erdan said on Saturday he has changed his view and is prepared to release terrorists ”with blood on their hands," but he did not make any specific reference to Barghouti. "After the Operation Cast Lead campaign, Israel has shown it has the power of deterrence and is prepared to fight errors,” he told Channel Two television.

      “We can allow ourselves to compromise for returning Shalit,” he said, but Erdan reserved a final answer depending on a final preliminary agreement.

      Israel media last month hyped more rumors of a proposed deal that was to be “imminent,” but as in the past, negotiations have run into snags. The latest rumor floating in Arabic-language newspapers is a deal hinges on eight terrorists whom Israel refuses to release. Barghouti reportedly is one of them.