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Cablegate: Hamas Trying to Hold On to Legitimacy, Seeking

VZCZCXRO2064
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #1285 1721445
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 211445Z JUN 07
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8132
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS JERUSALEM 001285

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAL KWBG PGOV PREL PTER IS
SUBJECT: HAMAS TRYING TO HOLD ON TO LEGITIMACY, SEEKING
SECURITY IN GAZA

1. (U) SUMMARY: HAMAS leaders in the Gaza Strip - including
Former Prime Minister Haniyah and several HAMAS PLC members -
have publicly questioned President Abbas's authority to
dismiss the government and claim to represent the legitimate
Palestinian Authority government. Abbas's office says HAMAS
leaders in Gaza are focused on security and resuming
government work at ministries.

HAMAS CHALLENGES LEGITIMACY OF THE NEW PA GOVERNMENT
--------------------------------------------- -------

2. (U) Mushir al-Masri, a HAMAS PLC member, in press June 20
criticized President Mahmud Abbas's (Abu Mazen) dismissal of
the national unity government (NUG) and establishment of a
new government. Acting Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC)
speaker Ahmad Bahar said Abbas acted illegally in declaring a
state of emergency and the NUG remains the legal government
until the PLC ratifies the new cabinet. HAMAS PLC member
Khalil al-Hayya rejected Abbas's decree outlawing the group's
Executive Force (EF).

3. (U) Former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah in an interview
ruled out a Gaza-based Palestinian state, saying Gaza belongs
to all the Palestinian people, not just HAMAS." Speaking to
the press, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Mahmud al-Zahar
blamed Abbas for the competition between governing
administrations in the Palestinian territories. Al-Hayya in
a June 19 press conference urged Fatah leaders to join HAMAS
in a serious dialogue to "protect Palestinian institutions
and property." Al-Hayya contrasted Fatah's willingness to
engage with Israel with Fatah's refusal to deal with HAMAS
and warned Fatah against attempting to separate Gaza from the
West Bank.

HAMAS FOCUSED ON SECURITY IN GAZA, HOPING TO SECURE SUPPORT
--------------------------------------------- --------------

4. (SBU) Haniyah began consolidating HAMAS's control in Gaza
by "dismissing" senior security officials, including MOI
Director General Rashid Abu Shabak and Chief of Civil Police
Kamal al-Shaykh, according to information from President's
office. (NOTE: Abu Shabak and al-Shaykh are both in
Ramallah, so Haniyah's "dismissal" of them has no practical
effect.) Haniyah appointed a new Security Council to oversee
the security services. Tawfiq Jabr is the head of this
council, which includes Khadder Abbas (a retired PLA member)
and Hassan al-Ajrami.

5. (U) On June 19, Haniyah convened members of his former
cabinet in Gaza in what HAMAS called a government session
primarily to discuss the security situation, according to a
HAMAS-issued press statement. The Security Council
instructed all security personnel in the Gaza Strip to report
to work (in contrast to orders from the Fatah leadership that
all security personnel stay home). As of June 20, the EU
Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) Rafah (currently located in
Ashkelon) reported that in Rafah hundreds of EF and civil
police are patrolling the streets. They are guarding
universities and food warehouses, and conducting traffic.
Haniyah banned security personnel from wearing masks, which
EUBAM said is a requirement that is being enforced. EF
Spokesman Islam Shahwan told the press that the EF and civil
police already conducted a joint operation against a Gaza
City drug dealer and that the EF is dealing with other
criminal activity consistent with HAMAS's commitment to end
lawlessness. Zahar in an interview praised HAMAS's ability
to prevent chaos in Gaza and belittled Fatah's efforts to
maintain security in the West Bank.

6. (U) HAMAS appeared to have control of media outlets in
Gaza, a USAID partner staff member reported to the Consulate.
Newspapers printed in Ramallah and Jerusalem are not
crossing into Gaza and only the HAMAS newspaper Felesteen is
available on the streets. Two Fatah radio stations and a
PFLP station have been closed. Only two radio stations are
operating in the Gaza Strip: HAMAS's "al-Aqsa" and Palestine
Islamic Jihad's (PIJ) "al-Quds". The HAMAS-affiliated
"al-Aqsa" TV is broadcasting, although satellite TV is
available from Ramallah.
WALLES

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