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EXCLUSIVE – Fatah Official: NYT’s Publication of Jihadist Barghouti’s Oped Was ‘Positive Step’

TEL AVIV – Deputy Secretary General of the Fatah Revolutionary Council Fayez Abou Aita told Breitbart Jerusalem that the New York Times’ publication of an oped written by Palestinian prisoner and convicted terrorist Marwan Barghouti was a “very positive step” for the Palestinians.

The Times faced public outcry for initially failing to note that Barghouti was convicted of planning multiple deadly terrorist attacks against Israelis.

As Breitbart Jerusalem reported earlier on Tuesday:

Barghouti, who is serving five life terms for the murder of Israelis and a Christian monk, was initially described by the NYT only as “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” Barghouti is also an architect of the deadly Second Palestinian Intifada, or terrorist war responsible for the deaths of scores of Israeli civilians.

In the conversation with Breitbart Jerusalem, Aita stated:

The publication of Marwan Barghouti’s essay in the New York Times is considered by the Palestinians a respectable stance of freedom of the press and reflects the position of those who support the free press in regards to Barghouti as a true warrior fighting for a just cause and the liberation of an occupied homeland.

The publication of the essay in the New York Times is a very positive step and we appreciate international media and their addressing of the prisoner issue, particularly that of the leader Barghouti, a leader who enjoys immense support from the Palestinian people and a leader who contributed to the struggle for the national liberation of the Palestinians, which cost him dozens of years of his life in Israeli prison and exile from the [Palestinian] territories by the occupation government.

Aita added that “anyone who treats Barghouti as a Palestinian leader and warrior for the freedom of his homeland – that means he supports the struggle for the national liberation of the Palestinians.”

The senior Fatah official said he had great appreciation for the New York Times’ position “that expressed support for Barghouti as a Palestinian prisoner suffering from the depression of prison and the oppressive measures of the occupation against the prisoners.”

Following public outcry about the lack of proper identification of Barghouti’s deadly background, the Times later added the following editor’s note to the oped:

This article explained the writer’s prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Mr. Barghouti declined to offer a defense at his trial and refused to recognize the Israeli court’s jurisdiction and legitimacy.

Regarding the clarification published by the New York Times, Abou Aita said, “This was the result of pressure, threats and incitement from Israel and its people and this is the continuation of a campaign of incitement against Barghouti and the Palestinian prisoners that’s occurring in the Israeli media because of Barghouti’s leadership of the prisoners’ hunger strike.”

The senior Fatah official added, “Israel is trying to perpetuate the view that Barghouti is a terrorist but it is failing. Barghouti enjoys world-wide respect, including with the members of the United Nations Security Council, countries in which squares have been named after him and where conferences have been organized for Barghouti, which succeeded in positioning him as a national leader, peace seeker and freedom fighter.”

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