"Why did Israel miss the golden opportunity to let Marwan Barghouti out of prison? (...) Ostensibly, Israel should have a strong interest in liberating Barghouti: Abbas is now 76 years old; his political career is coming to an end, and Barghouti is the only strong candidate who could continue Abbas’s work towards implementing the two-state solution. He would strengthen Fatah at the expense of Hamas. So why didn’t the Netanyahu government liberate Barghouti in the Shalit deal? This would have been a unique opportunity. It would not have required the dramatic act of a presidential pardon that has been suggested in the past and Israel would have gained a strong and reliable partner for negotiation in the future. (...)
Ultimately, Netanyahu and Hamas have one common interest: to keep pragmatic Fatah weak. This is why Hamas didn’t insist on including Barghouti in the Shalit deal. Its leadership knows that Barghouti would give Fatah a resounding victory in the next elections, and therefore prefers him in prison. So does Netanyahu. The greatest danger for him is a strong Palestinian leader who unifies the Palestinian people behind the two-state solution. If Barghouti would be elected Palestinian president with a strong mandate, and would state his commitment to the two-state solution clearly Netanyahu’s true colors would be exposed both to the Israeli electorate and to the international community.
Carlo Strenger über die verpasste Chance, Marwan Barghouti im Rahmen des Shalit-Deals freizulassen (Haaretz, 28. Oktober)