While Israel is pressing on the PA to curb on Hamas, Israeli security officials say they are welling to cooperate with elected Hamas-affiliated council leaders.

Already, the discussion in Israel has started over whom from Hamas to cooperate with, whom to boycott, and over what should be the focus of the cooperation with Islamic movement affiliates.

Debates similar to the ones heard prior to Israel’s recognition of the PLO such as “we will talk to political leaders, but not to the ones who has links to terror” are loudly voiced.

Most Israeli main daily newspapers have reported cooperation between elected Hamas council leaders and the Army civil administration authorities. A Hamas leader in Gaza denied cooperation, but a West Bank Hamas leader was quoted as saying that “cooperation with Israelis is necessary to run Palestinian civil affairs” 

As the flirting with Hamas goes, Israeli officials stepped up attacks against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The latest attack was launched by Likud MK Shviets, who on Tuesday said that “Abbas is worse than Arafat”

The question is: what is going on?

One possibility: Israel is attempting to pressure Abbas through promoting Hamas, playing on Fatah’s fears of losing power to the growing in strength Islamic movement.

The message could be understood as follows: if you don’t curb on them, we will have to promote them.

A second possibility: this is just a talk show aimed at increasing the rift between the Islamic movement Hardliners, who are concerned over Hams’s recent pragmatic political moves, and its moderates.

A third possibility: Israel has recently arrived at a conclusion that the PA is weak, especially in the Gaza strip, and that Hamas is “building a second PA” and “a people’s army”, therefore the flirting could also aim at seeking the Islamic movement consent on a “quite” Gaza pullout.

Sharon’s nightmare is: being forced to pullout under fire, bringing back the memories of the humiliating 1982 withdrawal from southern Lebanon.