Marwan Barghouthi, at heart of negotiations for exchange of prisoners between Hamas and Israel

As negotiations for the prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel progress, attention is increasingly concentrated on Marwan Barghouthi, leader of the Fatah movement, who was incarcerated for 22 years in Israel.

Hamas is demanding his freedom, seeing in him a figure capable of unifying the Palestinians and countering international pressure following the end of the conflict. Reports from the Spanish publication El País highlight the significance of Barghouthi, seen by numerous as the Palestinian Nelson Mandela, capable of uniting secularists and Islamists.

Israel, which condemned Barghouthi to five life sentences for “terrorism,” has frequently placed him in solitary confinement and transferred between different jails, the latest being Megiddo. Accusations by Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israeli Minister of National Security, that Barghouthi was preparing riots from his cell, are rejected by his family.

Despite the harsh prison conditions described by his son Arab, who has not seen his father for 22 years, the family stays optimistic, underscoring the importance of ending the conflict and freeing all political prisoners, and not just their loved ones.

People who met Barghouthi in prison describe him as an influential man, qualified to lead a government of national unity and fighting corruption and occupation.

While Hamas seems determined to include Barghouthi in prisoner exchange negotiations, the prospect of his release remains uncertain, depending on Israel’s negotiating manoeuvres and political will.

His popularity remains high among Palestinians, with some seeing him as a future presidential candidate capable of overcoming internal divisions and leading the Palestinian people into the future.

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