Barghouti: Israel's Gaza pullout is partial, won't bring peace

By The Associated Press


Nisan 21, 5765

ROME - Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip this summer won't be total and won't bring about peace and stability in the region, jailed Palestinian uprising leader Marwan Barghouti told an Italian newspaper.

In an interview with Corriere della Sera, Barghouti, a leader of the Fatah movement, also said that militant groups did not get much in return for observing a truce with Israel that was declared in February.

"The withdrawal from Gaza has been obtained thanks not to the skill of the negotiators but to the arms of the intifada," he was quoted as saying. "It is partial. If the situation remains as it is, it won't bring about peace and stability."

As part of the disengagement plan, all Gaza Strip settlements and four north West Bank settlements will be evacuated.

"It is impossible to give up the option of resistance for as long as there is occupation," said Barghouti, who is serving five consecutive life terms in an Israeli prison for involvement in deadly attacks.

"What have we had in return (for the truce)? New settlements, a siege, checkpoints and thousands of prisoners still in jail," Barghouti was quoted as saying.

"There are elements in the Israeli society who seek a real peace, who reject occupation," he said. "They are our future interlocutors."

Barghouti also said he supports Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' efforts to reform and crack down on corruption after the death of Yasser Arafat, and urged the Palestinian leader to finish the job within a year.

"If he carries out his reform plan, I will stand by him, like the majority of Palestinians," Barghouti said. "But he must make no compromises, there must be no exceptions."

Corriere della Sera did not specify how it got the interview with Barghouti.