Israel consulted Egypt, Fatah on Gaza war

Jerusalem–Israel discussed its planned war on Gaza with the Palestinian leadership and Egypt ahead of time, offering to hand them control of the strip if it defeated Hamas, US documents released by WikiLeaks showed.

The attempt to coordinate its devastating offensive against Gaza's Islamist rulers was revealed by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak whose remarks were included in a telegram sent in June 2009 by then deputy US ambassador Luis Moreno.

"He explained that the GOI (government of Israel) had consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead, asking if they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas," he said, referring to the Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

"Not surprisingly, Barak said, the GOI received negative answers from both," it said.

Israel launched its massive offensive, dubbed "Operation Cast Lead," on 27 December, 2008 with the stated aim of halting rocket attacks from Gaza.

During the 22-day war, some 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed in the fighting. Thirteen Israelis were also killed, 10 of them soldiers.

Barak also "stressed the importance of continued consultations with both Egypt and Fatah," over reconstruction of the tiny coastal enclave which was devastated by the operation.

The Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have long been bitter rivals, but their divisions came to a head in June 2007 when Hamas drove its Fatah rivals out of the Gaza Strip and seized control of the impoverished territory.

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