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Fatah and Israel 'targeted Hamas'

Israel and Fatah Palestinian forces worked together when rival Hamas militants overran the Gaza strip, according to the latest batch of WikiLeaks documents.

The disclosure could embarrass Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement, which Hamas has accused of working with the Israelis, after his position was already weakened by his failure to make progress in peacemaking with Israel.

A memo from the US Embassy in Tel Aviv dated June 13, 2007, mentions a conversation that took place during the civil war in Gaza that ended with the Hamas takeover.

It says Israeli Security Agency (ISA) chief Yuval Diskin said he had "established a very good working relationship" with two branches of the Palestinian security service and that Mr Abbas's internal security agency "shares with ISA almost all the intelligence that it collects".

Palestinians have a complex relationship with Israel, pursuing peace talks but also considering it an enemy because of its occupation of the West Bank and its settlements there, and collaboration with Israeli security is seen by Palestinians as treachery.

The Israeli Security Agency, also known as the Shin Bet, is reviled by Palestinians for its sometimes deadly raids on militant targets and its often harsh treatment of Palestinian suspects. Although Israeli and Palestinian security forces are known to co-operate, the tight co-ordination described by Mr Diskin could further weaken Abbas.

In the memo, Mr Diskin also said some leaders of Fatah - which he described as "desperate, disorganised and demoralised" - urged Israel to intervene in the infighting in Gaza and said they were in an "urgent situation".

"They are approaching a zero-sum situation, and yet they ask us to attack Hamas," Mr Diskin said. "This is a new development. We have never seen this before. They are desperate."

Mr Diskin is also said to oppose a US proposal to supply ammunition and weapons to Fatah, fearful that Hamas might get its hands on them instead.

An official with Abbas' government played down the information, saying "information-sharing between us and Israel is limited to field information that serves our security and the interest of our people."

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