Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has held recent meetings in several European capitals with Mohammed Dahlan, a leading political enemy of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the Israeli news site Walla reported Sunday.
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Lieberman denied the report in local media. Dahlan, who was bounced by Abbas from his ruling Fatah party in 2011 and accused of corruption and murder, likewise denied it, telling Walla, "Such news is meant to serve internal Israeli goals ahead of Knesset elections."
However, the site reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed in a message to Abbas that an unnamed "senior minister" in the Israeli government had held meetings in Europe with Dahlan, but that he, Netanyahu, had not approved them. Shin Bet security services head Yoram Cohen made the same point to Abbas in a recent meeting in Ramallah.
Reports of a Dahlan-Lieberman axis have circulated for years. Former Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin wrote that in a meeting after the 2000 Camp David peace talks, Dahlan, then Fatah's strongman in the Gaza Strip, described Lieberman (and Shas leader Aryeh Deri) as being "key to peace."
Lieberman, for his part, has long denigrated Abbas as a peace partner and is said to view Dahlan as a potential leader with whom Israel could see eye to eye.