|05TELAVIV233||2005-01-12 16:07:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Tel Aviv|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 000233
1. (C) Summary: Senior Abu Mazen confidants in the Gaza
Strip Marwan Kanafani, Marwan Abdul-Hamid, and Abdullah
Effrangi told Poloff January 11 that Abu Mazen is determined
to bring the numerous militant splinter groups "back into the
Fatah fold," but, to do so, must first provide both physical
security from Israeli attacks and the financial security of
alternative employment. Senior Hamas leaders in Gaza have
apparently walked back from January 10-11 public statements
casting doubt upon the legitimacy of Abu Mazen's mandate,
according to PLC Political Committee Chairman Marwan
Kanafani. Kanafani and others further categorized dealing
with Hamas as a lower priority than successfully
reintegrating the Fatah militias. End Summary.
"When We say Fatah Now, We Mean Abu Mazen"
2. (C) Fatah Revolutionary Council member Marwan Abdul-Hamid
was ebullient in a conversation with Poloff January 11,
boasting that "when we say Fatah now, we mean Abu Mazen."
Everyone participated in the elections, Abdul-Hamid crowed,
even some Hamas members. The goal of Abu Mazen supporters
now, he continued, is to strengthen what he called the Abu
Mazen stream within Fatah in the run-up to the PLC elections,
now scheduled for July 17.
3. (C) PLC Political Committee chairman Marwan Kanafani told
Poloff January 11 that the Gaza political leadership is
meeting to assess a situation that Kanafani described as
"going in the right direction for the first time in years."
Citing what he called a new willingness to cooperate among
fractious political factions, Kanafani said that expectations
of Abu Mazen are so high that Kanafani worries about the
performance of the new government and how it could possibly
meet them. Abu Mazen "has six months, at most" to deliver,
according to Kanafani, and will need to prioritize what has
to be done.
"Hamas is the Least of My Worries"
4. (C) When asked about the January 11 statements from the
Hamas spokesman and other Hamas leaders in Gaza that
questioned the legitimacy of Abu Mazen's mandate because of
claimed low voter turnout, Kanafani said bluntly that "Hamas
is the least of my concerns." (Note: The charge of less than
50 percent turnout is only applicable if the turnout is
calculated from the out-of-date civil registry.
International observers and the CEC, however, determined
voter turnout at 71 percent based on the recently compiled
voter registration list. End Note). Kanafani said the he
met January 11 with senior Hamas members who wished to
"clarify" that it had not been the organization's intention
to call into question the legitimacy of Abu Mazen's electoral
victory. Rather, the statements were intended simply as a
"reminder" to Abu Mazen that he should hold a national
referendum before deciding major issues such as resuming
talks with the Israelis or "disarming" the Intifadah.
Despite down-playing the challenge posed by Hamas, Kanafani
hastened to add that Abu Mazen intends to meet with Hamas
leaders when he returns to Gaza after his inauguration. "Our
contacts with Hamas are constant," he said.
5. (C) Abdul-Hamid made a similar point with regard to the
Hamas statements, stressing that the true spokesman of Hamas,
Khaled Misha'el in Damascus, called Abu Mazen personally
January 10 to congratulate him on his victory. Abdul-Hamid
dismissed Hamas "mutterings" in the Gaza Strip as an effort
to "remind people they are still here." Abu Mazen has loudly
and bravely condemned the rocket attacks in the Gaza Strip,
he said, despite warnings from some advisors that this
position would cost him votes. Instead, the opposite proved
to be true, Abdul-Hamid claimed, and people who had been
afraid to criticize militant activity rallied to Abu Mazen
for having the courage to say the previously unspeakable and
cast their vote accordingly. People in Gaza, according to
Abdul-Hamid, are almost begging Abu Mazen to "save them from
Hamas's chaotic policies."
Fatah's Militant Splinters Looking for Security
6. (C) Abdul-Hamid confidently stated that "all" Fatah
militants are also Abu Mazen supporters, implying that they
will obey orders intended to increase Israel's security and
thus reduce the subsequent need for IDF operations in Gaza.
When pressed, however, Abdul-Hamid admitted that Abu Mazen is
expected to deliver something in return to the Fatah
faithful. What they are looking for, according to
Abdul-Hamid, are security from targeted Israeli attacks,
assassinations and arrest operations, and a decent future
(read: jobs). Abu Mazen urgently needs to reach an agreement
with the Israelis to stop "hunting" the militants, said
Abdul-Hamid, who urged the U.S. to press Israel on this
point. Then, Abdul-Hamid continued, Abu Mazen must find a
way to "absorb" the militants, most likely into the various
security bodies, so that they can have an income that allows
them to provide for their families. Abu Mazen needs help,
Abdul-Hamid said, and lots of it -- soon.
7. (C) Fatah Central Committee member Abdullah Effrangi
recently told Poloff that Abu Mazen had made serious efforts
to reach out to Fatah's militant splinter groups during his
pre-election campaign swing through the Gaza Strip (Note:
Indeed, Abu Mazen boasted to visiting Senator John Kerry on
January 10 that he had met with all the al-Aqsa Martyrs'
Brigades leaders, "from southern Gaza to the northern West
Bank." End Note). Despite the difficulty of bringing his
message home when delivering it from amid the rubble of
destroyed houses in, for example, Khan Yunis, Abu Mazen will,
according to Effrangi, continue to work the issue with all of
the militant factions because it is essential to bring the
fighters back "inside" mainstream Fatah. It is simply too
dangerous for Palestinian society not to do so. After
attending a number of campaign rallies, Effrangi said that he
is confident that Abu Mazen's message is being received and
that fighters are, indeed, "willing to come back" into the
Fatah fold. The Fatah leadership, he concluded, has
determined that it must give these men a chance and is now
looking for ways to reincorporate them into official
structures. While Effrangi felt that it was easiest to
funnel the fighters into the security organizations, he did
not rule out finding them jobs elsewhere.
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