Hizballah and Hamas Believe Someone in the Bush Administration Is Talking to Them

In the wake of the Palestinian round table conference in Egypt earlier this month, Hizballah leaders in Beirut and Hamas circles in Damascus seem to believe that the Bush administration has decided to secretly initiate direct contacts with both these terrorist-listed organizations. For the first time since the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri last month, Hizballah leaders sound cheerful. They are saying that by responsibly controlling the turbulence in Lebanon after the murder, they brought Washington to the realization that no accommodation among Lebanon’s rival groups would be achieved without engaging Lebanese Hizballah leaders.

A similar mood has overtaken the heads of the Palestinian Hamas. They are saying that the Americans now appreciate that Mahmoud Abbas cannot last without Washington opening up a channel to the Hamas Damascus leadership.

How much of this is true and how much fantasy?

DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources discovered the source of the optimism in a meeting a group of private Americans held early this week in Beirut with Hizballah and Hamas leaders. The group was headed by Dr. Beverly Edwards, who introduced herself as an expert on international crisis solutions. All our efforts to find out whether the group was on its own or sent by some official body were fruitless.

The makeup of the Hizballah and Hamas delegations indicated that both took the talks very seriously. In fact they appeared to be celebrating their first direct contacts with high- level administration representatives and sent their own top people to take part.

Hizballah was represented by three Lebanese parliamentarians, Muhammed Rayad, Hussein Khalil and Ibrahim Fainash; Hamas by Osama Hamdan, ambassador to Beirut and one of the three top men of Hamas, and Mussa Abu Marzuk, head of the Hamas political arm.

The subject of discussion was the Syrian-Lebanese crisis and its solution.

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