If it is proved that Hamas was behind Thursday’s kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority will reevaluate its unity pact with Hamas, a senior official in the Palestinian Authority told The Times of Israel on Monday.
The official said that the kidnapping would mark a breach of the understandings between Fatah and Hamas, and would render their unity agreement null and void.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said that the assessment in Palestinian intelligence is that Hamas, or a faction within Hamas, was responsible for the kidnappings Thursday night of Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Frankel.
He said that in the course of negotiations between Fatah and Hamas, issues other than the declared goal of first forming a unity government and then moving toward Palestinian elections six months later were discussed. “There was an understanding that the Palestinians want to establish a state along the pre-1967 borders and that Hamas would desist from [terrorist] attacks,” the official said. “We stressed this issue with them time and again, and they agreed that there would be no bloodshed.
“We discussed with them in great detail that the Palestinians are proceeding solely with ‘popular resistance’ and not with armed resistance,” the official went on. “If it becomes clear that Hamas is responsible for the kidnapping and breached the agreement, that would mark the crossing of a red line from our point of view, and we could not maintain the reconciliation status quo.”
The official also said that Monday’s phone conversation between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was positive. He said Abbas had condemned the kidnapping and promised security assistance.
The assessment in Palestinian intelligence circles, the official went on, is that Hamas, or a faction within Hamas, is responsible for the kidnapping, as Netanyahu has charged. “Still, we need to wait before jumping to conclusions, and understand who truly kidnapped the three,” he said. “But from our point of view, blood is blood, and bloodshed is unacceptable. Whoever carried out this action sought to undermine Palestinian unity and to create chaos, and that is unacceptable.”
It is understood that other Palestinian officials have reached similar conclusions and conveyed them to their Israeli counterparts in the last few days. One senior Palestinian official is said to have vowed forceful PA action against the Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank, once the kidnapping episode is over, if it is established that Hamas was responsible.