Mahmoud Abbas AP 28.10.2010
Mahmoud Abbas speaking during a press conference in Ramallah, Oct. 28, 2010. Photo by AP
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There were never any actual consultations between us and the Israelis before the Gaza war, a top aid to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday, refuting a WikiLeaks cable that claimed otherwise.

One of the documents included in the over 250,000 diplomatic cables between the United States and its allies which were leaked on Sunday said that Israel tried to coordinate Operation Cast Lead with both Fatah and Egypt.

In a June 2009 meeting between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and a U.S. congressional delegation, Barak claimed that the Israeli government "had consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead, asking if they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas."

"Not surprisingly," Barak said in the meeting, Israel "received negative answers from both."

Top Abbas aid Saeb Erekat denied that Israel had notified the Palestinian Authority of the war before it happened.

"We knew about the war because the Israelis were saying there was going to be a war," Erekat said.

Several months before the fighting broke out, Abaas asked Israel's then-prime minister, Ehud Olmert, not to go to war, Erekat said. Abbas told him "he would not go to Gaza on an Israeli tank," Erekat added.

He said the exchange took place in a face-to-face meeting that he himself attended.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said he wasn't surprised to learn of Fatah cooperation with Israel.

"We have said several times that Fatah was implicated in this war, and that they wanted to return to Gaza on the back of Israeli tanks. But this information is behind us now. ... We hope they will appreciate our position and step forward for real reconciliation," Abu Zuhri said.

Hamas and Fatah have held several rounds of reconciliation talks since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007. Earlier this month, the two groups failed to narrow sharp differences on security issues and ended their latest round of talks without setting a date for the next round.