Marwan Barghouti

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Marwan Barghouti (born June 6, 1959) is a Palestinian leader from the West Bank and a leader of the Fatah movement that forms the backbone of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). He is currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail for murder and attempted murder. Barghouti's supporters believe that these charges were politically motivated, and consider him a political prisoner.



Barghouti was born in Ramallah, and became active in Fatah at the age of 15. Marwan Barghouti should not be confused with Mustafa Barghouti, a distant cousin. By the age of 18 in 1976, Marwan Barghouthi was arrested by Israel for his involvement in a Palestinian uprising, and learned Hebrew during his time in Israeli prisons. After his release, he returned to the West Bank and became president of the student body at Birzeit University, where he received a bachelor's degree in history and political science and a master's degree in international relations. He is married to Fadwa Barghouti.

First Intifada

Barghouti was one of the major leaders of the First Intifada in 1987, leading Palestinians in a mass uprising against Israeli occupation of the West Bank. During the uprising, he was arrested by Israel and deported to Jordan, where he stayed for seven years until he was permitted to return under the terms of the Oslo Accords in 1994. In 1996, he was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council, in which he advocated peace with Israel, sometimes coming in conflict with Yasser Arafat. The formal position occupied by Barghouti was the General Secretary of Fatah in the West Bank.

By the summer of 2000, Barghouti and Arafat had grown increasingly at odds with each other, with Barghouti accusing Arafat's administration of corruption and his security services of human rights violations, and Arafat was planning to fire him shortly.

Second Intifada

However, as the Second Intifada began, Barghouti became increasingly popular as a leader of the Fatah Tanzim militia. This was perhaps due to the transformation of Tanzim into an organization more resembling militant groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, responsible for dozens of civilian deaths in drive-by shootings. Under Barghouti, the Tanzim has also carried out suicide bombings in Israel under the name al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. Although Barghouti himself was against the killing of any Israeli civilians, he believed only the Israeli military should be attacked.


His role as a leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades landed him on Israel's most-wanted list, and he escaped an Israeli assassination attempt in 2001. However, he was captured by Israel on April 15, 2002 and indicted in civilian court on charges of murder and attempted murder stemming from activities carried out by forces under his supervision.


Israel chose to try Barghouti in an Israeli civilian courtroom, instead of in a military tribunal as Israel generally does with arrested Palestinian militants.

Throughout his trial, Barghouti largely refused to offer a defense, arguing instead that the court lacked jurisdiction and that the trial itself was illegal. Barghouti said that he supported armed resistance to the Israeli occupation, but condemned attacks on civilians.

He was convicted on May 20, 2004 of five counts of murder, one of the victims being a Greek Orthodox monk, resulting from three attacks, one north of Jerusalem, one in Tel Aviv and one in the West Bank. He was also found guilty of one count of attempted murder resulting from a failed suicide car bomb. He was acquitted of 21 counts of murder in 33 other attacks. On June 6, 2004, he was sentenced to five life sentences for the five murders and 40 years imprisonment for the attempted murder.

Candidacy for Palestinian Authority presidency

In late 2004, Barghouti announced his intention to run in the Palestinian Authority presidential election in January 2005, called for following the death of President Yasser Arafat in November.

On November 26, 2004, it appeared he would withdraw from the contest following pressure from the Fatah faction to support the candidacy of Mahmoud Abbas. However, just before the deadline on December 1, Barghouti's wife registered him as an independent candidate.

On December 12, facing pressure from Fatah to withdraw in favor of Abbas, he abandoned his candidacy and threw his support behind Abbas, citing his desire to maintain Palestinian unity.


  • "I am not a terrorist, but neither am I a pacifist. I am simply a regular guy from the Palestinian street advocating only what every other oppressed person has advocated—the right to help myself in the absence of help from anywhere else." (2002 Washington Post op-ed (

External links and references

bg:Маруан Баргути de:Marwan Barghuti fr:Marwan Barghouti he:מרואן ברגותי pl:Marwan Barghouti


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