Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin
Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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Hamas has ordered its operatives to foil the recently relaunched direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority by increasing the threat of a terror attack, the head of the Shin Bet told cabinet members on Sunday.

Recent West Bank shooting attacks, perpetrated by Hamas and targeting Israeli citizens, occurred on the eve of an official relaunch of U.S.-sponsored direct peace talks between Israel and the PA in Washington, with Hamas vowing to carry out more attacks unless talks ceased.

The group does not feel that the PA, headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, has the authority to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian people.

Speaking during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin said that Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and which is believed to have operatives working in the PA-ruled West Bank, has issued "an organizational directive to foil the talks."

"Hamas forces in Gaza and the West Bank are engaged in an effort to foil peace talks," Diskin told the ministers, adding that "threats are due to increase in the near future, as diplomatic developments occur."

"This isn't just an estimate but is supported by real intelligence," the Shin Bet chief said.

On Wednesday, Israel Radio reported that Hamas warned that it would harm the PA if security forces continued to arrest its operatives in the West Bank, an announcement which followed the arrest of the six Hamas-linked suspected perpetrators of two shooting attacks against Israelis about two weeks ago.

Four Israelis were killed in one shooting attack with two more were wounded in a similar attack the following day.

Referring to the arrests, Diskin said that the PA's security forces seemed to be highly motivated in seeking out the suspects linked to recent West Bank shooting attacks, and in preventing potential future attacks.

"The Palestinian Authority indeed arrested the perpetrators of the attacks," Diskin said.