In an interview with Egyptian Daily Star reporter, Mazai Mualen, the Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, raised the dramatic question of whether or not it was time for Israel to consider releasing from jail Marwan Barghouti, the popular leader of Palestinians. Barghouti has been held in jail for several years due to his participation in several murders of Israeli civilians. “I say,” said Eliezer, “there is no need to be alarmed and that it is possible to talk about the possibility of releasing him.” He added that Barghouti may well be the only leader who is respected by both Hamas and Fatah supporters. He argued, “if talking with Barghouti results in him leading the Palestinians tin the direction of making Hamas knuckle under, then that is what counts.”
Minister Eliezer is raising an issue that must be asked, who is the best person to assume the role played by Nelson Mandela in getting two angry opposing sides to bargain in constructive ways? Barghouti was convinced of cold blooded killings and they will remain a stain on him forever. However, there are indications prison life has brought about changes in his views and apparently has persuaded him it is time to adopt realistic solutions in gaining a compromise agreement with Israel. He apparently is the only Palestinian leader who can get Hamas to abandon its terrorism and refusal to recognize Israel. Eliezer is correct in urging taking a gamble because only a gamble offers the best opportunity for peace.