Hamas´ Meshal held back channel talks with Shin Bet, says new book (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Avi Issacharoff 05/03/12)
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Hamas leader Khaled Meshal held secret talks with former Shin Bet
head Yuval Diskin in the spring of 2006, journalist Shlomi Eldar says
in a book published in Hebrew this week. In "Getting To Know Hamas,"
published by Keter, Eldar says then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was
aware of the talks, which were brokered by a European mediator.
The European mediator approached two Israelis with whom he had work
contact in April 2006 and asked them, on Meshal´s behalf, whether
Israel would agree to a strategic settlement in the wake of Hamas´
election triumph in January that year, the book says.
One of the two Israelis was businessman Nimrod Novick, a former aide
to Shimon Peres. The other remains anonymous. The two contacted
Diskin and relayed the message from the European mediator. Diskin
agreed to talk to the man, whom he had met in the past. About a month
before IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was abducted, the envoy came to
Israel for a special meeting with Diskin and outlined Meshal´s ideas,
the book reports.
Diskin passed these ideas on to Olmert at a tete-a-tete and Olmert
said he was willing to hear more details of Hamas´ proposals to
Israel, Eldar writes.
In early June 2006 the European mediator flew to Damascus, where
Meshal had been based, to meet with him and senior Hamas officials
Mousa Abu Marzook and Imad al-Alami. They discussed a document
detailing the way Hamas sees its future relations with Israel.
The introduction to the document, entitled "Peaceful Coexistence,"
says negotiations between Israel and Hamas will be conducted with
mediators at first.
The envoy left Damascus some two weeks later and met Diskin, who
promised he would deliver the message to the prime minister himself
and would otherwise keep the talks under wraps.
According to Eldar, Diskin received the document a day after Shalit´s
abduction, which took place on June 25, 2006. After the abduction
Diskin and the two Israelis contacted the European envoy and asked
him to ask Meshal for clarifications regarding the contradiction
between the abduction and the message conveyed by the document.
The mediator called them back a few hours later, saying Meshal had
not known of the abduction near the Gaza border and was shocked by
it. Novick and the other unnamed Israeli told the mediator to tell
Meshal that Israel would not release prisoners in exchange for
Shalit. At best, they said, it might release prisoners only on a
The mediator talked to Meshal, who said he would be ready to accept
this, but only on the basis of continued discussions between Israel
and Hamas over a settlement. But Olmert´s public announcement saying
Israel would not negotiate with terrorists was tantamount to giving
Meshal a negative answer, the book says.
Olmert´s aide at the time, Yaakov Galanti, said to Haaretz, "Olmert
was never approached by Khaled Meshal in the way you describe,
neither before or after Shalit´s abduction, neither with ideas for a
settlement nor with ideas for a deal as part of a settlement.
"In addition, since this was before Ofer Dekel´s appointment as
coordinator of the Shalit deal, we asked Olmert´s aides who dealt
directly with these matters, and none of them knows of any approach
by Meshal to the prime minister or of any proposal regarding Shalit
or other matters in your question," said Galanti.
Diskin was unavailable for comment. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz
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