The Palestinian Authority complained to Israel recently that Shin Bet officers were in contact with high-level Hamas members around Jenin, senior Palestinian sources told Haaretz.

The Palestinian sources said that 10 days ago a number of low ranking Shin Bet officers met with senior figures of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Among the Hamas figures was the former Hamas Prisoner Affairs minister, Wusfi Kabha, a Jenin resident; Fadil Busnak a lawyer representing mostly Hamas men, who also resides in Jenin; and A'san Zreydi, an important Hamas figure in the area and a former prisoner. Also at one of the meetings was Adnan Hader, a member of Islamic Jihad from the village of Arabe.

None of the four are considered to be involved in armed resistance and are all recognized as political figures.

According to the Palestinian sources, the Shin Bet officers visited the four in their homes late at night, were permitted to enter and then explained that they did not intend to arrest the four, but to talk "over a cup of coffee."

The Palestinian sources claimed that the questions the Shin Bet officers asked their Hamas and Islamic Jihad interlocutors were not security related, but appeared to be an attempt at having an exchange with the Islamist groups.

The activists were asked about their views on the chances that peace talks would succeed, and the possibility of a peace agreement with Israel, according to the sources.

The Palestinian sources said that the PA complained about the matter to GOC Central Command Avi Mizrahi, because the meeting embarrassed senior Fatah officials in Ramallah, who could not understand the meaning or purpose of the meeting.

However, in the past the Shin Bet have held "warning" meetings with senior political figures of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, in an effort to warn them against linking up to terrorist activities or the funding of militants.

The Shin Bet refused to comment on the reports.

A meeting between senior Hamas and Fatah figures is scheduled to take place in the coming days in Damascus, as part of an effort to reconcile the two rival groups.

The meeting is meant to bridge differences over the future of the official Palestinian Authority security forces and Hamas.