News reports published Monday reveal that over the past two years, Israel has been in constant semi-official contact with Palestinian politician Marwan Barghouti who is serving five life sentences for involvement in terror activities.
Barghouti was arrested in April 2002 after being the leader of the Tanzim terror faction of the Fatah movement which perpetrated numerous terror attacks against Israel during the second Intifada. Among Palestinians Barghouti is considered a leader within the Fatah faction and holds quite a lot of influence on all parts of the Palestinian political map.
According to the reports, the contacts were conducted by Knesset Member Chaim Oron from Meretz, and at the full authorization of both former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. During these contacts, MK Oron passed political messages from the Israeli political echelon to Barghouti, and vice versa.
Apparently, these contacts were instrumental in reaching the current ceasefire, as Barghouti was able to influence the different Palestinian factions to reach an agreement with President Abbas to stop the rocket fire on Israel.
In addition, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni also met with Barghouti more than a year ago when she served as Justice Minister under the previous government. Livni was touring the prison where Barghouti is serving his sentence, when she met him in a seemingly unexpected manner. The conversation between the two was short, and the content of the conversation is unknown.