"Hamas does not have real power in the West Bank and Israel is
exaggerating its strength," PA National Security Force commander Maj. Gen.
Diyab Al Ali said. "We are ready to control the West Bank cities and
maintain security if Israel withdraws from them and this will make it easier
for us to obtain our demands from Israel."
But security sources said Hamas could destabilize the PA to the point
where senior officials either flee the West Bank or stay home. The sources
said this could include Abbas, who has often threatened to quit.
The sources said Hamas has been working with Iran and Syria in a
campaign to undermine the Abbas regime in 2009. They said the Hamas effort
was being planned in the Gaza Strip by military chief Ahmed Jaabari.
In 2008, the PA arrested about 400 Hamas members in the West Bank and
closed four Hamas charities. All but about 120 have been released.
On Sept. 22, PA forces raided the Hebron office of a Hamas member of the
Palestinian Legislative Council, identified as Samira Al Halayka,. Hebron
has been the latest target of a PA crackdown on Hamas.
The sources said Hamas was believed to have organized assassination and
sabotage squads that could attack the PA after January 2009, when Abbas's
term was scheduled to end. Abbas was said to have agreed to a U.S. request
to remain in power after January.