Palestinian minister to visit 'presidential candidate' Marwan Barghouti at Israeli jail with 'election offer'
A senior Palestinian minister will visit imprisoned political leader Marwan Barghouti after receiving the go-ahead from Israeli authorities, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site report.
Hussain Al-Sheikh, the head of the Palestinian Authority’s General Authority of Civil Affairs, will visit Barghouti in Israel's Hadarim prison, where he has been held since 2002.
Last month, The New Arab reported that Barghouti had ambitions to run for Palestinian president in upcoming elections. Barghouti is yet to make any official announcement on the matter.
Unnamed sources added that Al-Sheikh will seek to bring Barghouthi to the Fatah camp by persuading him to run on a unified list, during the elections.
Speaking to The New Arab's English site, Amjad Abu El Ezz, a Ramallah-based political science lecturer, said: "President Abbas knows his task is to get Fatah's house in check ahead of the elections and meetings with political prisoners does just that.
"Barghouti is an extremely influential figure in Palestinian politics. A visit by Al-Sheikh, in which he appears to be consulting Barghouti on the party's election roster [and] taking on board his criticism, shows that the party is in touch with the people," he added.
In 2017, Barghouti led the largest hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli detention in the country's history. He will mark 20 years behind bars in April.
The visit comes ahead of a meeting of Fatah's Central Committee to discuss the outcomes of national dialogue talks between Palestinian factions in Cairo.
Rival Palestinian parties gathered in the Egyptian capital earlier this week to discuss points of disagreement and plans for the upcoming elections.
Attendees spoke positively about the meetings, which brought together Hamas and Fatah politicians.
The two most prominent Palestinian political factions - Hamas and Fatah - have been at loggerheads since 2006, when the Islamist movement secured a surprise victory in legislative elections.
Fatah refused to recognise the group's victory resulting in a bloody split.
In January, PA President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree ordering three rounds of national elections.
The first - for the long-defunct Palestinian legislature - is set to take place on 22 May. That will be followed by presidential elections on 31 July and National Council elections on 31 August.
It will be the first elections in Palestine in 15 years.
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