Israel's army chief of staff on Tuesday warned local and international leaders to not get ahead of themselves by implementing policy based on the erroneous notion that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction have permanently severed ties with the ruling Hamas terrorist organization.
Despite last month's bloody Hamas takeover in Gaza and Abbas' subsequent dissolution of the Hamas-led Palestinian government, Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the working assumption is that the leaders of both groups will reconcile in the near future.
Hamas and Abbas' Fatah “have a common national interest,” said Ashkenazi, alluding to the annihilation of the Jewish state that both groups tell their followers they are ultimately seeking, if not by different methods.
The deputy head of Israel's Military Intelligence, Colonel Ronen Cohen, added that Abbas and his Fatah-dominated security forces have ceased their brief crackdown on Hamas in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), indicating that the expected reconciliation will happen soon.
That information sharply contradicted recent assertions by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who told his cabinet on Sunday that Abbas was proving to be a true partner for peace in the wake of Gaza's civil war.
Committee member Yisrael Katz of the opposition Likud Party called on Olmert to stop pushing “a policy of illusions, concessions and withdrawals, that will bring about the collapse of the Palestinian Authority and turn the West Bank into a second Hamastan.”