JAFFA, Israel – Hamas will not honor any agreement signed between Israel and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization, the recognized terror organization’s officials confirmed.
Hamas blasted a meeting slated for tomorrow between Abbas and President Bush in which the two are supposed to discuss U.S.-backed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at creating a Palestinian state before January.
“Abbas is an illegal and his negotiations with Israel will be also illegal. He cannot conclude anything. Hamas’ movement doesn’t recognize anything from what Abu Mazen concludes with the Israelis,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zwahiri.
Zwahiri noted Abbas’ term as PA president is set to expire on January 9. He said at that time, Hamas will remove all pictures of Abbas or references to him from official government institutions and material.
Hamas maintains 74 seats in the 128 seat Palestinian Legislative Council, and trounced Fatah in 2006 elections. Legally, it should control the PA, but Abbas unilaterally dismantled the democratically elected Hamas government after the terror group violently seized complete control of the Gaza Strip last summer.
Zwahiri’s statements overshadow the U.S. and Israeli drive to create a Palestinian state, highlighting just how tenuous is Abbas’ rule. Israel is widely expected to offer Abbas most of the West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem amid claims by Hamas that it will attempt to take over any evacuated territories just as it seized control in Gaza.
Fatah in recent weeks has evidenced some fracture. Yesterday, a small breakaway faction of Fatah in Gaza announced it was starting a new Fatah leadership to compete with Abbas, whom the Fatah group blasted as corrupt. Also yesterday, there was a large demonstration in the West Bank city of Ramallah against Fatah’s inability to stand up to Hamas in Gaza at a time a large number of Fatah members are jailed in Hamas prisons.
Meanwhile, Hamas members are making clear they have their sites on the West Bank territory Israel may hand over to Abbas.
Just last week, in an exclusive WND interview, Mahmoud Al-Zahar, the Hamas chief in Gaza, stated Hamas are the rightful representatives of the Palestinian people and should control the entire West Bank just as they rule the Gaza Strip.
“According to our rights, we are the elected majority, and a majority in a democracy should control all the Palestinian areas, whether in the West Bank or in the Gaza Strip. This is not an extraordinary issue,” said Al-Zahar, who is considered the second most powerful Hamas leader following the group’s overall chief, Khaled Meshaal, who resides in exile in Damascus.
“Do you respect democracy? If you respect democracy, the elections in January 06 indicated Hamas is the majority and it should run the administration in Gaza and the West Bank,” said al-Zahar, speaking from Gaza.
The Hamas chief’s comments to WND came amid fears in the Israeli intelligence community Hamas eventually may attempt to take over the strategic West Bank just as it seized Gaza, particularly if Israel withdraws from the territory.
In a dramatic statement last weekend, Olmert declared at a Knesset meeting that “Greater Israel” is over.
“Greater Israel is over. There is no such thing. Anyone who talks that way is deluding themselves,” Olmert stated.
Greater Israel is a reference to territories captured by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War, including the Gaza Strip, West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem.
Security officials in Jerusalem are warning if Israel withdraws, Abbas’ forces may not be strong enough to contend with controlling the West Bank without the aid of the Israel Defense Forces.
Yuval Diskin, head of Israel’s Shin Bet Security Services, estimated during a Knesset meeting last November that if control of the West Bank were handed over to Abbas, Israel would suffer a “significant threat to its security.”
Palestinian security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, admitted to WND they would have trouble controlling the West Bank without Israeli intervention.
According to the officials, Fatah’s intelligence apparatus routinely hands the IDF lists of Hamas militants that threaten Fatah rule, requesting that Israel make arrests, although Fatah has been stepping up direct arrests of Hamas gunmen in recent weeks.
Perhaps foreshadowing coming tensions, Hamas’ so-called military wing last week urged its gunmen in the West Bank to use force if security men loyal to Fatah try to arrest them.
Israeli and Palestinian security officials in the meantime told WND they have specific information Hamas is quietly setting the stage for a possible West Bank takeover attempt. The officials said that among other things, Hamas has been acquiring weaponry in the West Bank and has set up a sophisticated system of communication between cells for a seizure attempt.
In what is considered the most threatening Hamas move, according to the officials, the terror group is thought to have heavily infiltrated major Fatah forces in the West Bank and has been attempting to buy off Fatah militia members, many times successfully.
The issue of Hamas infiltration of Fatah was thought to have been the Achilles heel that led to the terror group’s takeover last summer of the entire Gaza Strip, including dozens of major, U.S.-backed Fatah security compounds there. Hamas’ seizure is thought to be a partial consequence of Israel evacuating Gaza in 2005.
Hamas’ infiltration of Fatah was so extensive, according to top Palestinian intelligence sources speaking to WND, it included the chiefs of several prominent Fatah security forces, including Yussef Issa, director of the Preventative Security Services, the main Fatah police force. Issa regularly coordinated security with the U.S. and Israel.
In a bid to strengthen Fatah, the U.S. has been providing the group’s militias with weapons, financial aid and advanced training conducted an American-run bases in the West Bank and Jordan.
But WND previously reported the U.S.-trained security forces have been failing at basic anti-terror missions.
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