Jailed Palestinian icon ‘Barghouti’ sweeps votes in Fatah polls, Head of Israeli party calls for releasing him

Jailed Palestinian resistance icon Marwan Barghouti won most votes in Fatah movement’s main decision-making body, preliminary results showed Sunday. 

The vote was held Saturday to elect 18 members of the 21-seat committee on the sidelines of Fatah’s seventh general congress.

The results showed that 12 committee’s members were re-elected, including Barghouti, who has long been considered an icon of resistance to the Israeli occupation, reported Anadolu Agency.

Barghouti played leading roles in both the first and second Palestinian Intifadas (“uprisings”) in 1987 and 2000, respectively.

In 2002, Barghouti was arrested by Israel and slapped with five consecutive life sentences for his alleged involvement in a number of attacks on Israelis.

Saturday’s polls also saw the election of six new members to the central committee.

According to the results, only three candidates from the blockaded Gaza Strip were elected to the committee.

More than 1,400 Fatah members attended the five-day congress, which is set to conclude on Sunday in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Head of Israeli Meretz-Yahad party calls for releasing ‘Barghouti’

On the other hand, Yossi Beilin, head of the Israeli dovish Meretz-Yahad party, said the Fatah election results underscored Barghouti’s leadership potential and that it was time for Israel to release him, according to Gulf News.

“I think today there is no doubt that he is one of the top leaders in the Palestinian street,” Beilin said.

“Today he can be a moderating and positive influence. Therefore I think it would be right for the government to ask the President to pardon him.”

Barghouti was handed five life sentences in 2004 after being convicted of taking part in attacks on Israeli targets.