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Leaked Cables on Israel:
Israel Expresses Concern Over Fatah Infighting

(November 28, 2005)

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Classified U.S. diplomatic cables, leaked by the whistleblower site WikiLeaks, contained details of a November 18, 2005, meeting between NEA DAS Robert Danin and Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin during which Diskin expressed concern over Fatah's infighting and the possibility of jailed activist Marwan Barghouti replacing Mahmoud Abbas as the party's leader.

28 November 2005
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 006669
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/28/2015
Classified By: CHARGE GENE A. CRETZ, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: During a November 18 meeting with NEA DAS Robert Danin, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) Director Yuval Diskin said that a successfully managed passage at Rafah would encourage the opening of other passages and would benefit Qarni. Diskin expressed concern about Fatah and its leader Mahmud Abbas, whose inattention to party issues had led to infighting. He called jailed activist Marwan Barghuti the most extremist force in Fatah, but said that he could nonetheless become Fatah's leader. Diskin offered that the best results in the upcoming Palestinian elections would be if Fatah received more than 40 percent of the vote and Hamas received less than 30. End summary.


Rafah as a Test Case


2. (C) During a November 18 meeting with NEA DAS Robert Danin, Israel Security Agency Director Yuval Diskin said that Israel sees risks and dangers in allowing traffic between the West Bank and Gaza. Nevertheless, if Rafah were successful, it would also benefit Qarni and other crossings into Israel. Rafah is an important test case, he said. If the Palestinians are able to manage Rafah successfully, it will influence positively the opening of other passages.


Fatah in Trouble


3. (C) Diskin expressed strong concerns about Fatah in the run-up to the Palestinian elections. He said that Mahmud Abbas has shown no interest in party business and has not set up any mechanism to run the party while he ran the Palestinian Administration. As a consequence, Fatah is disintegrating and has descended into infighting between an inactive old guard and a new guard that is ascendant but still largely excluded from the political process. Diskin predicted that the old guard would disappear after the election. He said the new guard does not trust Mahmud Abbas. Marwan Barghuti, whom he called "a real troublemaker," is an important player and very popular. Diskin believed Barghuti could become the party leader in the near future. Diskin said that Barghuti tries to appear moderate in order to make himself more attractive and to help get himself released from Israeli imprisonment, but really is one of the most extremist members of Fatah. Diskin said that keeping Barghuti in jail is the best of the available options.


Palestinian Elections


4. (C) Asked about his forecast of the Palestinian election scheduled for January 2006, Diskin said that the outcome would depend on the Fatah party list. He said that the likely outcome would be clearer following the upcoming primaries, even though the Central Committee and not the primary would decide who is on the list. The best results would be for Fatah to receive more than 40 percent and for Hamas to get less than 30 percent. Diskin said that recent polls indicated that with a strong party list, Fatah would receive 42 percent and Hamas 20 percent.


No Coordination with PA on Anti-terrorism


5. (C) Diskin indicated that terrorism is still a major problem in PA-controlled areas, and this was one reason why he had opposed disengagement. Diskin said that cooperation with his Palestinian counterparts had been "useless" and there had been no coordination on anti-terrorist activities. He said that some Palestinian leaders continue to support terrorist activities and had provided help to suicide bombers, and added that the problem was worse in Gaza than in the West Bank. Diskin said that Dahlan was no longer the strongman he once was in Gaza, and that new stars, such as Mushrawi and Hillis, were on the ascendancy. There are at least two Hamas cells in the Hebron area and one in Nablus, which Diskin called "the capital of terrorism." The Shin Bet had been able to thwart their activities. Ramallah is where the "brains of Hamas" are located, he suggested. Diskin said that without Fatah support, local commanders have no motivation to act. Thus, he argued, "We have to do the most to help Fatah."

6. (C) DAS Danin cleared this cable.


Sources: Wikileaks

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