NEW YORK- The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is deeply concerned by the State Department spokesman’s statement that the U.S. “will work with” Marwan Barghouti if he is elected chairman of the Palestinian Authority — even though U.S. law would prohibit any contact with Barghouti since he is the leader of an organization which is on the U.S. list of terrorist groups.
At his daily press briefing on December 2, 2004, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher was asked about Secretary of State Colin Powell’s remark that the election of Barghouti could be “problematic.” When a reporter asked “Are you willing to work with whoever the Palestinians elect?,” Boucher replied: “Thats an obvious yes. At the same time, remember the Secretary said yesterday that the candidacy of Barghouti is problematic because of the kind of reasons that you might well conclude, should that happen. But Im not going to speculate on it at this point.” (www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2004/39337.htm)
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said: “U.S. law prohibits any dealings with groups on the U.S. terrorist list. Marwan Barghouti is founder and leader of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, which is on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations. We urge the Bush administration to publicly acknowledge that if Barghouti is elected, the U.S. will not have any contact with him.”
The ZOA president added: “Moreover, President Bush said in his famous June 2002 speech about Israel and the Palestinian Arabs that in order for the U.S. to support creating a Palestinian Arab state, the Palestinian Arabs would have to — among other things — ‘elect new leaders not compromised by terror.’ Who could be more ‘compromised by terror’ than a convicted terrorist and leader of a terrorist group, such as Marwan Barghouti ? The U.S. refused to deal with Yasir Arafat because he was a terrorist; how, then, can it consider dealing with Barghouti?”
Barghouti is presently serving multiple life sentences in an Israeli prison after he was convicted, in May 2004, of organizing a series of suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks in which five people were murdered — four Israelis and a Greek Orthodox monk.
He was also involved in attacks in which American citizens were murdered: On November 30, 2004, Hamas terrorist Abdullah Barghouti (no relation) was sentenced to jail for organizing a number of attacks, including the August 9, 2001 bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem, in which U.S. citizens Judith L. Greenbaum, 31 (of New Jersey and California) and Malka Roth, 15 (whose family was from New York) were murdered, and U.S. citizens David Danzig, 21 (of Wynnewood, PA), and Matthew P. Gordon, 25, were injured. According to Count 2 of Abdullah Barghoutis indictment, he received $500 from Marwan Barghouti, and according to Count 50, Marwan Barghouti asked him to build two bombs and he did so.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Barghouti, who is Marwan Barghouti’s nephew and right-hand man, was convicted last year of numerous terrorist attacks. Count 51 of Ahmed Barghouti’s indictment stated that he and Marwan Barghouti together “provided refuge for persons sought by the security authorities in connection with crimes, such as the bombing of the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in August 2001, where 15 were killed and 130 were injured. They took them from the local prison in Betunia to a specially rented flat. They stayed there for several days and the accused later provided them with handguns upon their departure.”