Avigdor Liberman
Avigdor LibermanHadas Parush/Flash 90

There has been a series of confusing reports and counter-reports according to which a senior Israeli minister – apparently Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman – met on December 25 with an Arab personage in Paris. Liberman is denying the reports and there are conflicting versions regarding the identity of the person he met. Initial reports named the person he met as Mohammed Dahlan, a Fatah terrorist leader and the chief rival of Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas, but these are now being denied.

The report that the meeting was an unauthorized one are also being denied.

According to Maariv Online, Liberman met an unnamed Arab personage – not Dahlan – at the prestigious Raphael Hotel in Paris on Christmas day. Officials from Mossad were also present at the meeting. The trip was authorized by the government but all the people who were aware of it signed confidentiality vows.

The earlier reports gave a completely different version of what transpired, and a different time frame as well. According to these news items, after a senior Israeli minister met Dahlan, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent Abbas a secret communication in which he told Abbas that the meeting was not authorized by him and does not represent the policies of the Israeli government.

Dahlan, a former Fatah official, was expelled by Abbas in 2011. He also lost his parliamentary immunity following allegations of corruption and involvement in the murder of ex-PA head Yasser Arafat. He currently lives in the United Arab Emirates.

Both Palestinian and Israeli sources told Walla! News that a senior member of Israel's cabinet held a number of meetings with Dahlan, regarding the Israel-Palestinian conflict, in several European capitals.

Following a report of these meetings, Abbas' associates reportedly attempted to determined if they were held on behalf of the Israeli government and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Palestinian sources claimed that Israeli Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet) chief Yoram Cohen told Abbas, on behalf of Netanyahu, that these were not official meetings, when he spoke with him in Ramallah, just before early elections in Israel were announced in early December.

When asked for comment, both the Israeli official and Dahlan denied any meetings between themselves. Dahlan added that he has no connection to an Israeli minister of any other senior Israeli figure. He further claimed that the publication of these reports are intended for internal Israeli reasons, which he does not wish to be a part of.