link Popular Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti said in an Italian newspaper report Wednesday that he believed he was among hundreds of prisoners due to be exchanged for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
The Israeli government said Tuesday an exchange was imminent but this has been played down by Hamas, which was among the militant groups that captured the 23-year-old soldier in Gaza in 2006.
Asked in a report in Italian daily Corriere della Sera if he was on a list of prisoners to be swapped, Barghuti, who is the West Bank leader of the Fatah faction, replied: "Yes. I hope that this time we are there."
"Some of our prisoners will at last be freed: those that no negotiations have managed to get out of prison."
"I am also part of this list," he said.
He was elected to the governing body of Fatah in August and is seen as a successor to outgoing Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
Asked about Israeli reaction to the possibility that he could head the Palestinian authority, he said Israel had "decided it will not negotiate with Barghuti as president".
"But one should not worry, there are no elections for the moment," he said.
Barghuti said Abbas had been mistaken to place the emphasis only on negotiations and to have "believed US and Israeli promises".
And the result of US President Barack Obama's year in government has been "a big zero", he said.
17 hours ago