"Former prime minister Ariel Sharon's aides inquired whether imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti would support Salam Fayad for prime minister should Fatah win the January 2006 elections, Haaretz has learned.
MK Haim Oron (Meretz), who visited Barghouti in his Israeli prison, served as the liaison between Barghouti and Sharon's bureau. Barghouti told Oron that he would support Fayad and objected to forming a coalition with Hamas.
Sharon's staff concluded that Barghouti had the power to help Fatah win the elections, and therefore, the authorities improved his prison conditions: After more than two and a half years in solitary confinement, he was moved to an ordinary cell, and later transferred from Ohalei Kedar Prison to Hadarim.
He was also allowed to receive visitors, including senior Palestinian officials, and the Shin Bet security service permitted television channels Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya to interview him.
Israeli officials involved in the contacts said that Barghouti told Sharon that should Fatah win the elections, he would urge a program of reforms in the Palestinian Authority. The sources added that the talks with Barghouti convinced Sharon's aides that allowing him more contact with the media and with other Palestinians would increase his ability to contribute to a Fatah victory......."