The move has dispelled speculation that Barghouti, 43, would be among prisoners released by the Jewish State as Israeli and Palestinian leaders implement a US-backed "road map" to peace.

 

Barghouti was arrested 15 months ago during an Israeli raid on the West Bank city of Ramallah. He has been charged with multiple counts of murder arising from Palestinian attacks that killed 26 people.

 

He has already spent the past six months of his detention in isolation as part of moves to prevent him making direct contact with other political prisoners.

 

Palestinian human rights groups have backed up his claims that he has been tortured during his time in jail.

 

Barghouti denounced his trial during a court appearance on Monday, saying: "It is impossible to get justice in an Israeli court."

   

Refusing to testify, he reiterated that he did not recognise the court's jurisdiction and added: "You have not even considered the latest developments."

 

Charismatic leader

 

Barghouti says Israel is
mounting a show trial

Barghouti is widely credited with playing a role from his prison cell in a three-month truce announced by Palestinian groups on 29 June, 33 months into the uprising.

 

The ceasefire was announced after weeks of talks spurred by Barghouti's lawyers, who carried his messages from jail.

 

Israel has released some Palestinian prisoners since the ceasefire announcement but has ruled out freeing anyone involved in attacks on Israelis.

 

Barghouti denies the charges against him and accuses Israel of mounting a political show trial.

 

Barghouti is the West Bank head of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement and has been tipped by some as a credible successor to the Palestinian president.

   

The Israeli prosecution is due to present its closing arguments on 24 August .