Secret files 'reveal British plan to weaken Hamas'

26th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

British intelligence services helped draw up a secret plan to weaken the radical Palestinian movement Hamas, the Guardian reported on Wednesday.

The documents, shared with the British newspaper by Al-Jazeera television, called for the internment of leaders and activists in the Islamist group, the closure of radio stations and the replacement of imams in mosques.

The Guardian said the British plan was drawn up by the MI6 foreign intelligence service in conjunction with British officials in 2004, two years before Hamas won elections and subsequently took control of the Gaza Strip.

It is contained in 1,600 leaked documents obtained by Al-Jazeera, which have revealed details of the concessions offered by Palestinian negotiators to Israel in US-brokered Middle East peace talks.

The seven-page Palestinian Security Plan, written by British intelligence officials, says its objective is to "encourage and enable the Palestinian Authority (PA) to fully meet its security obligations under Phase 1 of the Roadmap".

The Palestinian Authority, largely drawn from the ranks of Hamas' great rival Fatah, inked a 2003 peace initiative with Israel known as the roadmap under which Israel agreed to stop settlement building while the Palestinians pledged to curb attacks by militants.

Under the heading "Degrading the capabilities of the rejectionists", the plan recommends "the detention of key middle-ranking officers" of Hamas and other armed groups.

The report adds: "We could also explore the temporary internment of leading Hamas and PIJ (Palestinian Islamic Jihad) figures, making sure they are well-treated, with EU funding."

The Foreign Office said the government did not comment on intelligence matters, but that Britain "absolutely condemns any abuse of human rights".

Britain had been seeking to build the capacity of the Palestinian Security Forces for a number of years, it added, but a condition of its support was that the Palestinian Authority "must make progress on human rights".

Other documents leaked Tuesday showed that top Israeli and Palestinian officials discussed killing a prominent Palestinian militant, Hassan al-Madhoun.

He was killed in an air strike a few months after the conversation in 2005 between then Palestinian interior minister Nasr Yussef and Israel's then Defence minister Shaul Mofaz.

© 2011 AFP

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