Would a prisoner exchange deal hurt Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' regime? Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin doesn't think so.
In a conference held at the Foreign Ministry on Monday, which was attended by Israeli ambassadors, Diskin said that while a deal with Hamas for the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit would serve as a slap in the face to the Palestinian president, he does not believe it would topple his regime.
Diskin said that Abbas has been preparing for the possibility that he may lose power, but that he would survive, as he has no substitute.
The Shin Bet chief also answered questions regarding the Palestinian arena. Among other things he said he does not foresee a third intifada.
He also gave his own opinion of who started the second intifada – Marwan Barghouti. According to Diskin, contrary to popular belief, it was not Yasser Arafat that was behind the uprising, but the Tanzim leader who was sentenced to five life sentences in prison in Israel.
Diskin also addressed the possibility that Abbas may be replaced, should he resign from his position. He mentioned three candidates to succeed the Palestinian leader – Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister who is not a member of Fatah, which could lead to a problem in his appointment, former Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and senior Fatah official Muhammad Ghneim.
Regarding the Shalit talks, Diskin said a deal would give Hamas an important achievement in Palestinian public opinion. Diskin said there is a significant rift between the West Bank and Gaza, which continues to deepen – both mentally and politically, and possibly on a religious level as well.
The Shin Bet chief added that Israel maintains its deterrence power in the Middle East and that Operation Cast Lead had restored the Jewish state's deterrence following the difficulties of the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
Mossad chief Meir Dagan and Intelligence & Atomic Energy Minister Dan Meridor are slated to speak at the conference.
Gilad Shalit was kidnapped into the Gaza Strip 1,283 days ago