Hamas is preparing for a possible takeover of the West Bank the UK’s Sunday Times is reporting. The Times cites a report by Aman, Israel’s military intelligence service, that Hamas chief Khaled Meshal has ordered sleeper cells to prepare for a struggle to take control of the territory.
Military intelligence reports that there are strong indications Iran is encouraging Hamas to replace the more moderate Fatah, led by Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority.
The article claims that the broken ties between Iran and Hamas that resulted from the latter’s refusal to back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been restored as Iran has accepted Assad’s weakened position as a reality.
According to the Sunday Times article, a close associate of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Bibi understands the geopolitical changes in the Middle East. No way would (he) give up an inch of the West Bank – he is convinced that the intelligence assessment about a Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas) takeover is solid.”
There are fears among members of Fatah as well that such reports could soon become reality. The Sunday Times quotes General Tawfiq Tirawi, a senior Fatah member and former head of Palestinian general intelligence, as saying: “We’re on the verge of catastrophe. Hamas wants intifada (an uprising) and now only a spark is needed to light the inferno. Hamas will take over the West Bank.”
General Tirawi believes Israel is helping Hamas by not introducing any political solution. Munib al-Masri, a Palestinian businessman who has tried to mediate between Hamas and Fatah, believes reconciliation is now out of the question. “Iran is financing Hamas in the West Bank,” he told the Sunday Times.