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The End of Mashaal, Haniyeh, and Zahar?

Khaled Abu Toameh reports in the Jerusalem Post today that

Israel is planning to assassinate exiled Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal, deposed Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, and former PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar, but is waiting to give the green light on the operation until after US President George W. Bush leaves the region, the London-based newspaper, Al-Hayat reported on Sunday.

Color me skeptical. Israel has had good cause to take such action for years, but has not done so, save for a terribly botched attempt on Mashaal in 1997 in Jordan. If the story is true, however, I suspect that the assassinations would be a component of a larger operation in Gaza that would seek to substantially weaken Hamas’ power there, preparing the territory for the return of Fatah, which is an American objective–and which would give the Israelis, I would imagine, explicit American approval for the assassinations.

The above speculation should not be construed, though, as anything other than tea-leaf reading.



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