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Israeli domestic intelligence chief demanded Palestinian PM Abbas scrap elections if Hamas takes part

PM Abbas was asked by Israel to cancel elections [Getty Images]

Date of publication: 1 April, 2021

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An Israeli intelligence chief has demanded Abbas cancel upcoming elections if Hamas competes in the vote.
Israel's internal intelligence chief told Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas that he should cancel upcoming elections or risk Hamas taking power, according to media reports on Thursday.

Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman reportedly held a "tense" and "fraught" meeting with Abbas and the head of Palestinian intelligence, Majed Faraj.

There Argaman demanded that Gaza-based Islamist movement be excluded from upcoming parliamentary elections warning that Hamas could take power in the West Bank, leading to an angry exchange with Abbas, Palestinian sources told Haaretz.

"You cannot hold elections with Hamas," the Shin Bet commander told Abbas.

"I don't work for you," the Palestinian president responded, who heads the ruling Fatah Party.

Argaman then warned Abbas that the election could see Fatah unseated in the West Bank and Hamas take power, a chief fear of Israel's security services.

An American delegation also conveyed a similar warning to Abbas, according to Israel Channel 13.

Palestinians are set to hold their first parliamentary votes in more than 15 years, which has been hailed as a major step towards national unity.

A bitter dispute between Hamas and Fatah erupted over the results of the 2006 legislative elections, which the Islamist movement won but resulted in the division of the Palestinian territories.

Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007 and Fatah the West Bank.

Following recent reconciliation talks in Cairo both political factions agreed to abide by an "electoral honour code" and refrain from inciting "religious, sectarian or political violence" or intimidation of voters.

It has been revealed that jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti will likely lead an independent coalition during the vote and could cooperate with Yasser Arafat's nephew, Nasser Al-Qudwa.

This move is perceived as a major threat to Fatah's - which controls the Palestinian Authority - hold on power.

Israel has fought three wars with Hamas since 2007, leading to the deaths of hundreds of civilians in Gaza.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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