Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Israel foils plot to kill Palestinian president

Uzi Mahnaimi, Tel Aviv
London TImes

A HAMAS plot to assassinate Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has been thwarted after he was tipped off by Israeli intelligence.

Hamas’s military wing, the Izza Din Al-Qassem, had planned to kill Abbas at his office in Gaza, intelligence sources said.

Abbas, who became president of the Palestinian Authority last year after the death of Yasser Arafat, was formally warned of the danger by the Israelis and cancelled a planned visit to the territory.

The murder plan is the clearest sign yet of the tensions inside the Palestinian Authority between Hamas, which swept to power after elections in January, and Abbas’s Fatah movement.

Hamas leaders, who refuse to recognise the state of Israel, suspect Abbas of obstructing their attempts to govern, which have been hampered by a financial boycott from donor nations. “Hamas considers Abbas to be a barrier to its complete control over Palestine and decided to kill him,” said a Palestinian source who was an adviser to Arafat and is a close acquaintance of Abbas.

It is understood that the attack would also have targeted Mohammed Dahlan, Abbas’s strongman in Gaza.

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