Erekat told Army Radio today that the PA also demands the release of Hizbullah murderer Samir Kuntar. Kuntar and three other terrorists infiltrated into northern Israel by sea in 1979, abducted and murdered Danny Haran and his young daughter Einat, and killed policeman Eliyahu Shachar. Danny's 2-year-old daughter Yael was also killed in the attack.
Erekat's demand is not likely to be fulfilled - at least not in the coming weeks. A meeting scheduled for today between PA leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was canceled precisely because Abbas knew that Sharon would not respond positively to demands of this nature.
On the other hand, it is not unlikely that Barghouti will be released in the future. In June of this year, Israel daily Yediot Acharonot reported that top Israeli officials have recommended that the government consider releasing Barghouti. The recommendation reportedly appeared in a secret document given to senior security cabinet ministers.
Last November, then-interior Minister Avraham Poraz of the Shinui Party said it would be possible, "under certain circumstances," to consider releasing Barghouti from prison. The ultra-left Gush Shalom organization has also called for Barghouti's release. The Justice for Jonathan Pollard organization has also reported in the name of Acting Finance Minister Ehud Olmert that Israel is grooming Barghouti and preparing him to be the next Palestinian Authority leader.
Barghouti and other Al-Aksa Brigades terrorists are pressuring the PLO's Fatah, its mother organization, to be included on its list of candidates for the upcoming PA parliamentary election. The election is scheduled for late January 2006.
Fatah has not yet agreed to incorporate Al-Aksa on its list, however, and the disagreement has already led to violence. Al-Aksa terrorists fired at a car of a senior PA parliament leader last week - in protest of Fatah's refusal to include them in a Bethlehem gathering convened to formulate an election list.
Topping the list of aspiring Al-Aksa candidates is Barghouti, who has been in Israeli prison for three and a half years and is serving several life terms. The arch-terrorist is considered the founder of the Al-Aksa Brigades. Others on the list of potential PA lawmakers are Nasser Awis, a subordinate of Barghouti who dispatched suicide terrorists; Yasser Abu Baher, currently serving three life terms plus 40 years for various murders; and Jamal Hawil, responsible for many attacks against Israelis in the Jenin area.
An Al-Aksa leader known as Abu Udai demands that the Fatah leadership include what he calls Fatah's "military arm" in the list of candidates. He says that the Al-Aksa Brigades are a "fundamental part of Fatah."
This attempt by Al-Aksa, writes analyst and former IDF Intelligence officer Yonatan D. HaLevy, is an expression of its desire to effect a "white revolution" within Fatah against the old leadership. Al-Aksa's influence within the organization has grown over the past five years of warfare, and it is now ready to translate this to political power.
Weeks ago, terrorists fired at the home of Hani Al-Hasan, a veteran Fatah leader who has fallen out of favor with the more militant and younger Fatah members.
The calls against Hamas' participation in the elections, because of its declared intentions to destroy Israel, apply just as well to Fatah. The latter's official website presents its charter just as it was written in 1989, in which it declares its ambition to bring about the "total liberation of Palestine and the liquidation of the Zionist entity economically, politically, militarily and culturally." This will be done, the charter states, via armed popular revolution - and Al-Aksa and other groups have taken it upon themselves to carry this out.