Abbas wanted Israel to help attack Hamas, WikiLeaks cable shows
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wanted Israel's unprecedented help to attack Hamas after the militant group overthrew his Fatah movement in a bloody coup, according to a classified cable just released by WikiLeaks.
In the June 2007 cable, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones wrote that Shin Bet security chief Yuval Diskin had told him in a meeting that Fatah was in complete despair over the situation in the Gaza Strip.
The cable was released at the beginning of the violent clashes between Fatah and Hamas; three days after the meeting between Jones and Diskin on June 9, Hamas seized control of the coastal territory and displaced the Palestinian Authority government there.
Israel has "established a very good working relationship" with Abbas' forces, Diskin told Jones in their meeting. As Hamas was overrunning Gaza, Diskin said, some desperate Fatah leaders even wanted Israel to attack Hamas.
According to the cable, Diskin assumed in the early days of the clashes that Hamas was not yet strong enough to destroy Fatah's presence in the Gaza Strip. Hamas may be able to win the battles, Diskin said, but Fatah's response would be damaging.
Diskin told the American envoy that Hamas had managed to penetrate the echelons of Fatah's security forces, emphasized that Abbas' faction was suffering a leadership crisis and had put senior official Mahmoud Dahlan in charge of overseeing the situation in the coastal territory.
Dahlan was in effect managing the security forces in Gaza from affar, said Diskin, adding that it was not even clear where he was located.
Jones emphasized in the cable that an aide to Diskin had surmised that Dahlan was in Cairo at the time; a few days later Diskin told Jones that Dahlan was in Amman.
Diskin told the American envoy that although Fatah was desperate, its leadership was behaving as would be expected of people faced with such a difficult situation.
He told Jones that Fatah had thus turned to Israel for help in attack Hamas, which he termed a new and unprecedented development in Jerusalem's relations with the Palestinian Authority.
Diskin went on to share with Jones sensitive details relating to the cooperation between the Shin Bet and the Palestinian security and intelligence forces in the West Bank.
Palestinian security was sharing "almost all [its] intelligence with Israel," Diskin tolf Jones.
Despite that revelation, Diskin issued critical words of Tawfiq Tirawi, the head of the Palestinian General Intelligence, calling him a dangerous psychopath.
The cable also exposes Diskin's concern that Abbas had begun to pose as a problem for Israel. The Shin Bet chief criticized the Palestinian leader as being unable to follow through as needed, pointing to Fatah's failure to retain control of Gaza as an example.
Abbas was more interested in being the leader of all Palestinians rather than just his Fatah movement, Diskin told Jones, and knew that he had failed at that.
The disclosure of the cable could seriously embarrass Abbas and his Fatah movement, which Hamas has always accused of collaborating with the Israelis.