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P.A. Police Chief Casts Doubt on Fatah-Hamas Reconciliation

P.A. Police Chief Hazem Atallah in Ramallah, Screen Capture

JERUSALEM, Israel – Palestinian Authority Police Chief Hazem Atallah says the P.A. has renewed security cooperation with Israel, but he doesn't see how the most recent Fatah-Hamas reconciliation can work without Hamas disarming.

Meanwhile on Thursday, a Special Forces unit of the Israel Police arrested a man with a meat cleaver and butcher knife in his tote bag, along with a Koran, near the entrance to the Samarian community of Kochav Yaakov.

In a separate incident, Israeli Border Police officers arrested an Arab youth from Hevron armed with a knife outside the Cave of the Patriarchs.

Earlier this week, guards at an Israeli prison in the south discovered 10 cellphones and three SIM cards stuffed in the underwear of a five year old visiting his father, who's serving a 12-year sentence for terror-related crimes.

Atallah said security cooperation with Israel never really stopped, despite last July's announcement by P.A. chairman Mahmoud Abbas claiming he'd severed cooperation to protest Israel's placement of security cameras near entrances to the Temple Mount after a terror attack there.

Some analysts say Abbas would endanger his own safety if Israeli security forces weren't in Judea and Samaria (a/k/a the West Bank) preventing a Hamas takeover.

Atallah told a group of foreign journalists in Ramallah Thursday it's unlikely the budding unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas would succeed with Hamas' refusal to disarm.

"It is impossible. How can I do security when there are all these rockets and guns? Is this possible?" he asked – and then answered, "It doesn't work."

In the spring of 2007, P.A. security forces fled Gaza in a weeklong bloody military coup that left Hamas in control.

While both Palestinian factions have made some concessions in the Egyptian-mediated negotiations, each has its "red lines." For Hamas, it's disarming and dismantling its terror infrastructure, which includes weapons manufacturing and storage facilities, attack tunnels and the like.

Atallah also rejected Hamas' demand to incorporate its members into his police force and would only consider integrating those hired before the 2007 coup. "[It's] very clear," he said. "We are talking about one authority, one law and one gun."

Meanwhile at a closed-door conference in Dubai, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly said, "Israel doesn't have leaders who want to make peace," the Jerusalem Post quoted a Channel 10 news broadcast.

According to the report, MK Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Knesset's Joint Arab List, took part in the conference, while opposition leader Isaac Herzog took part by video feed.

Kerry called Abbas a "viable peace partner."

"The Palestinians did wonderful work and remained committed to nonviolence," the Post quoted Kerry as having said. "Essentially when the intifada erupted they did not use violence in the West Bank. The public ignored this. It didn't talk about it. Why? Because most of the cabinet ministers in the current Israeli government publicly declared that they will never support a Palestinian state."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the former secretary in a statement saying he "will continue to stand steadfast on behalf of Israel's national and security interests, even if this isn't viewed favorably by the person who tried and failed to push him toward dangerous concessions.

"The reason there is no peace is first and foremost the Palestinians' refusal to recognize Israel inside any borders," the statement continued. "They are even condemning the British government right now for the Balfour Declaration. It is regrettable that John Kerry still does not understand that."


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