The director of Israel’s Shin Bet security service on Sunday briefed the government regarding a possible Hamas takeover of the West Bank, according to Israeli media outlets.
Nadav Argaman told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, one of the Israeli parliament’s most powerful sub-committees, that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is “very weak” and a reconciliation agreement recently signed between Abbas’s Fatah party and Hamas is “not going to succeed, even if it takes a little more time.”
Despite the fact that all FADC sessions take place behind closed doors, Israeli media leaked parts of the session during Sunday afternoon and evening.
“Abu Mazen is very weak,” Argaman was quoted by the Times of Israel as saying, using Abbas’s nom de guerre. “In the case of a regime change, there’s a chance that Hamas will take over for him because of his weakness.”
Argaman reportedly told members of Knesset that it is “not impossible that [Hamas political chief] Ismail Haniyeh or [Hamas Gaza chief] Yahya Sinwar will take control of the West Bank.”
“Hamas is trying with all its strength to carry out attacks in the West Bank and to disturb the stability of the Palestinian Authority,” Argaman warned.
According to a statement issued by the FADC at the end of the session, the Shin Bet director told lawmakers there that Hamas, despite its efforts to wreak havoc in the West Bank, is trying to avoid an escalation of violence against Israel inside the Gaza Strip.
“This year, we broke up 148 local Hamas cells in the West Bank. This high number of cells shows the increase in efforts by the Hamas high command in the Gaza Strip and abroad,” Argaman was quoted as saying.
“Hamas sees the West Bank as being the main front for terror, with the intent of upsetting the security stability there, but it is having trouble doing that, mostly because of Israel’s efforts to stop it,” he added.
According to reports, Argaman also briefed the FADC on Hamas’ increasing ties with Iran. Hamas is not looking for another war with Israel, he said, but the group is still preparing for such a scenario.