Alarmed Argaman Asks Abbas to Annul Appeasement Attempt
Nadav Argaman, head of Israel’s Shin Bet security agency, recently met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and implored him to call off the parliamentary election planned for May 22 in the Palestinian territories, Israel’s Kan public broadcaster revealed Wednesday. During the visit at Abbas’ home, which included Palestinian intelligence chief Majid Faraj, Argaman warned the president, who heads the Fatah party, that his rival faction Hamas – classified as a terror organization by Israel, the US, the EU, Canada, and Japan – would likely prevail in the scheduled elections and take over the West Bank. Abbas reportedly refused the request, blaming Israel for facilitating Hamas’ reign in the Gaza Strip and protesting that he “doesn’t work for” the Israeli security official. The May elections, part of an attempted reconciliation between the two Palestinian groups, will be the first since Hamas won control of Gaza in 2006 and subsequently drove Fatah officials out of the coastal enclave. The West Bank has remained under Abbas’ tight grip. Late Wednesday evening, Marwan Barghouti, a Fatah official serving several life sentences in an Israeli prison for terrorism and murder, announced that his new party would run in the upcoming race, a clear challenge to Abbas’ rule. The move is seen as a preliminary bout ahead of the Palestinian presidential election slated for July, in which Barghouti plans to run.