Abbas wants Israel to keep Hamas men jailed

Wednesday, July 30, 2008 |  Israel Today Staff

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has thrown a wrench in Israel's plans to meet Hamas demands for the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

In a personal message from Abbas to the Israeli army commander in charge of the central region last week, the Palestinian leader said he would dismantle the Palestinian Authority if Israel freed the 40 Hamas politicians and parliamentarians it is holding.

Israel arrested dozens of top Hamas officials in the wake of Shalit's kidnapping in June 2006 to use as bargaining chips for his release.

Obtained and published by Ha'aretz, the message stressed that Abbas was not just talking about resigning in protest, but actually dismantling the Palestinian Authority, which would result in an immediate and total Hamas takeover.

The message was seen as somewhat out of place, considering that Abbas so vigorously opposed Israel's efforts to keep Hamas out of the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary election, which the terror group ended up winning by a relative landslide.

Abbas has also tried to portray himself as the leader of all Palestinians, and the champion of efforts to get all Palestinian security prisoners freed from Israeli jails.

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