AnalysisDAY 4: The search for the three kidnapped Israeli teens

PA official: Unity pact is void if Hamas carried out kidnapping

Palestinian intelligence said to share Israel’s assessment that Hamas, or a faction within it, is behind abduction of 3 Israeli teens

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas waves during the swearing-in ceremony of the new unity government in the West Bank city of Ramallah June 2, 2014. (photo credit: Issam RImawi/Flash90)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas waves during the swearing-in ceremony of the new unity government in the West Bank city of Ramallah June 2, 2014. (photo credit: Issam RImawi/Flash90)

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.

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