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Did Bibi choose to preserve Hamas to avoid talks with Abbas?

In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, Knesset member Israel Hasson, a former deputy head of Shin Bet, charges that Prime Minister Netanyahu has chosen to preserve Hamas as part of a strategy to keep Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas weak and unable to negotiate.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attend an event about the Middle East peace talks in the East Room at the White House in Washington September 1, 2010.   REUTERS/Jim Young   (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR2HTCQ
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Kadima Party Knesset member Israel Hasson, former deputy head of Shin Bet, has grown increasingly frustrated over the past few days watching Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon manage the prolonged Operation Protective Edge. Hasson has reached the conclusion that what guides the two men is the desire to avoid strengthening the status of Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, to evade returning to the negotiating table with him. That, according to Hasson, is why they did not attack Hamas in a manner sufficiently devastating to ultimately destroy the organization.

Hasson has experienced two intifadas. He has also witnessed every diplomatic process since the days of the Oslo negotiations. Over the past few years, he has come out against the delegitimization of Abbas conducted by Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. He says that the campaign of insults and humiliation was intended to make Abbas irrelevant to any negotiations with Israel. In Hasson’s opinion, Operation Protective Edge furthers this approach. In an interview with Al-Monitor, he claimed that concern over hitting Hamas too hard was the main consideration behind Netanyahu and Ya'alon’s decision not to expand the ground campaign after the destruction of Hamas' tunnel system.

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