I'm seeing people on the Twitter rumor-mongering that Marwan Barghouti will be freed from eight-ish years of prison as part of an Israel/Hamas deal to free captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Ha'aretz hasn't confirmed it yet.
But if it's true, wow. Just -- wow. Barghouti is a credible peacemaker: a no-shit terrorist under Arafat during the Second Intifada, he's part of the Fatah reformist wing and a two-state-solution-nik. Accordingly, I don't get why it's in Hamas' interest to include him in the deal. Some of my Twitter folk suggest that a) he'll be exiled, b) he's grown tight with some Hamas people in prison, and/or c) kneecapping Mahmoud Abbas is more important to Hamas.
Maybe. But Barghouti is pretty damn popular. At the very least, he's a wild card for Hamas to contend with. And if we're talking beyond the very least, he's as much a threat to Hamas as to Abbas, even if he stays in exile, which doesn't seem likely to last if true.
One other thing. If Benjamin Netanyahu deliberately included Barghouti in a peace deal -- frankly, even if he acquiesced to freedom for Barghouti in a Hamas proposal -- then that's a Big Fucking Deal. That would indicate, on its face, perhaps the boldest step Netanyahu has ever taken in his political career toward ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unless there's something I'm missing, freeing Barghouti would upend Palestinian politics in a way that favors the moderates but has credibility with the extremists. And it's on the strength of leaders like that that peace gets made.
Please let this be true...
Update, 7:19 p.m.: Shit.