Middle East Monitor / February 13, 2021
Member of the Central Committee of Fatah Hussein Al-Sheikh revealed details of his meeting with leader Marwan Barghouti, who is currently detained in the Israeli Hadarim Prison.
Al-Sheikh confirmed in a press statement that Barghouti had assured him of: “The need to forget the painful past, factional and selfish interests and achieve a unified list for the Fatah movement far from exclusion or marginalisation.” Barghouti also demanded the selection of the movement’s candidates: “According to criteria and principles that ensure the widest representation of sectors and segments of our people geographically and represent women, youth, professionals, academics, representatives of the economic and social sectors, militants and freed prisoners.”
Barghouti called on the movement to: “Launch a sincere and responsible fraternal dialogue within its ranks, involving everyone, in a way that guarantees the unity, strength and vitality of the Fatah movement,” while emphasising the importance of “national cohesion in this democratic contest”.
Al-Sheikh disclosed that during the meeting that took place with Israeli approval at Hadarim Prison, he discussed with Barghouti international and regional political developments, the national dialogue results, and the ongoing preparations for the parliamentary and presidential elections.
He also quoted Barghouti as welcoming the historic decision to hold elections, the success of the national dialogue in Cairo and his call for broader participation in the elections as an important and essential step towards ending the disastrous division and restoring national unity.
Israeli Channel 12 reported that Palestinian President Abbas had asked Barghouti to withdraw his candidacy in the presidential election, offering him several benefits in return. Channel 12 divulged that the offer was made during Al-Sheikh’s visit to Hadarim Prison, where Barghouti is serving five life sentences and an additional 40-year sentence.
Palestinian sources told the Israeli channel that: “Al-Sheikh informed Barghouti of a direct offer from Abbas, demanding him to withdraw his candidacy in the presidency, in exchange for obtaining the first position in the list of Fatah for the legislative elections, reserving ten seats on the list for the candidates he chooses and granting his family economic assistance.”
The channel added that the offer came as a reaction to the widespread support and popularity that Barghouti enjoys in the West Bank, which far exceeds the support for Abbas.