debkafile Exclusive: Israel secretly permits Hamas-Fatah coalition talks in Gaza. Negotiations are progressing

According to debkafile‘s Exclusive sources, while preventing the Fatah party from reaching Gaza Feb. 20, the Olmert government changed its mind the next day. The Fatah delegation is led by its parliamentary faction leader Azzam al Ahmad, Mohammed Dahlan and Ahmad Hilas “Abu Maher”, secretary general of the Fatah’s Gaza branch and Dahlan’s sworn enemy.
debkafile‘s sources note that Israeli policymakers’ decision to allow a coalition that offers a Hamas-led government stability and opens the way for its international recognition poses a number of questions:
1. What is the point of the Israeli PM’s tough-sounding refusal to recognize the new “terrorist authority,” on the one hand, when on the quiet he plays ball with that same authority, on the other?
2. This tactic is no secret to Washington and European capitals. In what light does it place foreign minister Tzipi Livni’s campaign for the international boycott of a Hamas government? Will not foreign governments help themselves to a page from Israel’s two-handed book?
debkafile‘s Palestinian sources report perfect coordination between supposed political rivals, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas and the designated Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniye. Even their communiques are synchronized: Abu Mazen seems to argue the US-Israeli case and urges Hamas to accept terms for buying recognition, while Haniye consistently turns them down and refuses any truck with Israel. This act invariably end with Abbas brushing aside Israel’s demands as irrelevant because its government rejects any Palestinian negotiating partner whoever heads their government. Israel is thus put in the wrong by a falsehood because, in point of fact, the lines have always been open between Abu Mazen’s and the Israeli prime minister’s offices, over and above the frequent exchanges via Washington.
But the Olmert government has so far not been able to develop a consistent, practicable policy on the Hamas question and is therefore stumbling from one contradiction to another.

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