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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Internal Hamas coup plot against Haniyeh?

The anti-Hamas Palestinian Press Agency is reporting that internal Hamas divisions are so bad that the radical members headed by Mahmoud Zahhar are planning to assassinate "prime minister" Ismail Haniyeh.

According to the Arabic article, Zahhar and one other extremist head (autotranslated as Siam Said, and I don't know who it really refers to) hate Haniyeh for betraying Hamas principles. The article claims that the plan has six steps:

1. Kill Haniyeh sooner rather than later so as not to expose internal Hamas divisions publicly.
2. Blame Fatah for the assassination, thus killing off the remaining Fatah opposition in Gaza.
3. Start a defamation campaign against Abbas in the West Bank as being against Palestinian Arab unity by ordering the hit.
4. Make it appear that Hamas is the victim and Fatah the aggressors to weaken international support for Fatah.
5. Regaining support from the Muslim Brotherhood which has been critical of Hamas for going away from core principles.
6. Any remote chance of negotiating with Israel on any topic like a long-term truce will be scuttled forever.

While the article is fairly long and detailed, and PPA has been pretty accurate lately, one cannot discount the possibility that this article is really meant to deflect last weekend's news that Hamas accused two Fatah members of plotting to assassinate Haniyeh, along with "confessions" aired on Hamas TV.