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Hamas denies secret message to Netanyahu

Hamas officials denied that Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh sent a secret message to his Israeli counterpart, but debate continues within the movement about a dialogue with Israel.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves after attending a ceremony with Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem January 21, 2014. Harper told Israel's parliament on Monday any comparison between the Jewish state and apartheid South Africa was "sickening", drawing a standing ovation - and an angry walkout by two Arab legislators. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITICS) - RTX17O8X

Palestinians woke on Feb. 18 to an unusual news report posted on an Israeli website, alleging that Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of Hamas’ Gaza government, had secretly sent a message to his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, about ending the military escalation following Israel’s recent bombardment of a number of targets in Gaza.

It was further alleged that the message was passed in a phone conversation between Ghazi Hamad, undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Gaza, and an Israeli mediator, Gershon Baskin. The conversation was said to have included a request to wind down Israeli military operations and supposedly took place in Haniyeh’s presence, in his office, with the message subsequently being relayed to Gil Sheffer, Netanyahu’s bureau chief.

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