Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday harshly criticized the election of a convicted murderer and terrorist to a key committee of Fatah, the Palestinian Authority’s ruling party.
Marwan Barghouti is serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison for his role orchestrating murders during the Second Intifada in the early 2000s. He was elected to the Fatah Central Committee over the weekend, winning more votes than any other candidate. Polls consistently show that he is one of the most popular Palestinian political figures.
“The election of Barghouti in the Fatah movement radicalizes the culture of incitement and terrorism,” Netanyahu said, which “only serves to alienate prospects of peace.”
“As if it weren’t enough that they continue to incite by naming streets, schools and squares after murderers, now they’re in top leadership roles,” he added.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was unanimously reelected to lead his party after purging his rivals and preventing opposition leaders from attending. Other allies were also elected to key roles, including Jibril Rajoub, a former security chief and current head of the Palestinian Football Association who previously said that Palestinians would use a nuclear weapon against Israel if they could. This has allowed Abbas to strengthen his hold on Fatah despite his declining popularity (a June poll found that nearly two-thirds of Palestinians want Abbas to resign).
[Photo: AFP news agency / YouTube ]