Barghouti smiled for reporters as he was driven through the Qalandiya checkpoint into the West Bank on Friday.

"It's a good chance for me to go back to university, to my family," Barghouti told Reuters news agency.

"We hope that, inshallah [God willing], my father will be released too."

Probation

He remains on probation as Israeli prosecutors are challenging a military court's decision to acquit him on charges of carrying out an ambush and four attempted killings.
   
Marwan Barghouti  remains popular with
Palestinians[EPA]
 
"Bail was posted, and Barghouti is required to stay in the area of Ramallah and report to our Binyamin station once a week," Orit Steltzer, a spokeswoman for Israel's prisons service, said.

After arriving in Ramallah, he visited the tomb of Yasser Arafat, the former Palestinian president, accompanied by his mother, Fadwa.

His father, Marwan, is the West Bank leader of the Fatah Party of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

Marwan was detained by Israel in April 2002 and convicted in May 2004 on five counts of murder and one of attempted murder resulting from three suicide attacks and one failed attack.
He is currently serving five life sentences.

He remains popular with the public despite being out of sight in an Israeli jail. In January 2006 he was re-elected to the Palestinian parliament and is widely seen as a possible successor to Abbas.

There has been speculation that the Fatah leader could be released as part of a deal to secure the freedom of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli reservist captured by Palestinian fighters in June 2006.