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In leaked cable, Egypt says factions unserious on unity

Nov. 29, 2010 1:24 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 30, 2010 6:16 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Egyptian official charged with reconciling rival Palestinian factions judged in 2009 that neither Fatah nor Hamas wanted a unity deal, a leaked document revealed Sunday.

A US diplomatic cable, one of more than a quarter million obtained by the whistleblower group WikiLeaks recounts a meeting between CENTCOM commander Gen. David Patraeus and Egypt's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman in Cairo in June 2009.

"Reconciliation remains elusive, he [Suleiman] noted, as neither Hamas nor Fatah really want an agreement," the document states.

"Talks were at an impasse, however, as Hamas had suspended reconciliation talks until Abbas released all Hamas detainees in the West Bank, which Soliman said Abbas would never accept," the dispatch from the US Embassy continues.

Suleiman "promised that Egypt would 'not give up' on Palestinian reconciliation. 'It is hard,' he continued, 'but I am always optimistic. I consider myself a patient man, but I am loosing [sic] patience.'"

Suleiman oversaw several rounds of negotiations between the factions after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. The Islamist movement had won a majority in the Palestinian parliament but moved to preempt an expected US-backed coup against its authority.

Pressure on Hamas

In the same conversation, Suleiman is quoted as telling Patraeus that "Egypt's three primary objectives with the Palestinians were to maintain calm in Gaza, undermine Hamas, and build popular support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas."

The document states: "On Gaza, Soliman said Egypt worked closely with Israel to coordinate humanitarian assistance shipments and was encouraging the Israelis to allow more assistance into Gaza. Soliman said he was still seeking a 'tahdiya' (calm) agreement between Hamas and Israel, but noted that Israel's lack of a Gaza strategy and desire to keep Hamas under pressure made any agreement difficult."

"On undermining Hamas, Soliman said Egypt has "stopped" money and arms from entering Gaza. 'Hamas feels they are losing their capabilities,' Soliman said, as they are unable to re-arm using the tunneling network under the Egypt-Gaza border."

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