Report: Secret Meeting Held Between Israeli, Hamas Officials

Sources say meeting held in order to warn Hamas against kidnapping settlers in the West Bank to use as leverage to free Palestinian prisoners.

A secret meeting took place between Israeli and Hamas officials this past week, the London based newspaper Al-Sharak Al-Awsat reported on Saturday.

According to Palestinian sources quoted in the report, the former Treasury Minister in the Hamas government of Ismail Haniyeh, Omar Abed al-Razak was taken from Nablus, in the West Bank, to the Israeli city of Netanya on Tuesday.

The Palestinian sources say the meeting was held in order to warn Hamas against kidnapping Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

The Israel Defense Forces recently said that intelligence has shown Hamas leaders in Damascus are pressuring followers in the West Bank to abduct Israeli settlers and citizens.

The IDF West Bank division commander warned Israeli settlers to be on alert for possible abduction attempts across the territory, a warning based on intelligence and interrogations of Palestinians arrested for involvement in plotting such kidnappings.

The IDF added that it believes such a kidnapping would be used by Hamas as a bargaining chip for short-term gains and not for major negotiations such as in the case of Gilad Shalit, who has been in captivity for four years and for whom Hamas wants hundreds of prisoners.

Although the sources would not reveal the definitive reason behind the meeting, it has been suggested that the Israeli and Hamas officials discussed the deal to free captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit as well as the recent rocket fire that fell on Eilat and Ashkelon.

Al-Razak denied the report, saying the information was "completely untrue" and "lacking any basis".

"Hamas officials in the West Bank cannot move freely and are prohibited from entering the 1948 territory," Al-Raza said.