HAMAS TIGHTENING GRIP ON PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY. While PA president indicates support for talks with Israel

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By Aaron Klein

JERUSALEM – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party in recent days launched a quiet campaign targeting Hamas military installations in the strategic West Bank as well as the alleged infiltration by Hamas of Fatah security forces, Palestinian security sources told KleinOnline.

The move came as Abbas met with U.S. Jewish leaders yesterday to discuss resuming negotiations with Israel aimed at creating a Fatah-led Palestinian state.

According to the Palestinian security sources speaking to KleinOnline, Fatah is concerned about the growing influence of Hamas in the West Bank. The Islamist group, allied with the Muslim Brotherhood, already controls the Gaza Strip.

In the Fatah stronghold of Nablus, PA forces last week dismantled a cell of Hamas’ Al Qassam Brigades, the so-called military wing of Hamas, the security sources said.

Two of the six arrested in that raid were members of Fatah’s own Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades paid by Hamas to collaborate. The Al Aqsa members were accused of providing Hamas with inside information on the movement of Fatah security forces.

The PA also discovered and dismantled an underground jail built by Hamas near the city of Ramallah purportedly as a place to house an Israeli soldier or Jewish resident of the West Bank that Hamas was planning to kidnap as a show of strength.

The sources said the PA in the last few days launched a campaign against elements of Fatah’s Al Aqsa Brigades suspected of being bribed by Hamas, including Fatah militia members accused of serving as sleeping cells for Hamas.

Hamas infiltration of Fatah was said to be the Achilles heel that ultimately caused Fatah forces to fold with little resistance when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007.

The strategic position of Hamas has been greatly enhanced by the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood, including in neighboring Egypt.

While Abbas’ grip on the Palestinian arena is being challenged, the Fatah leader reportedly held talks yesterday with a small group of U.S. Jews about resuming negotiations with Israel aimed at creating a Palestinian state led by Fatah.

Abbas indicated support for a plan, first proposed by Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz, in which Israel would freeze all Jewish construction in the West Bank as long as talks with the PA progressed.

Abbas also expressed willingness to wait until after the November U.S. presidential elections before bringing a unilateral statehood request to the United Nations General Assembly.

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