(CNN) -- In the summer of 2007, two Palestinian groups -- Fatah and Hamas -- fought street battles in Gaza. Fatah, loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, was losing. And a U.S. diplomatic cable indicates that "desperate, disorganized, and demoralized" Fatah members appealed to Israel to attack their rival.
The cable quotes the head of the Israeli Security Agency, Yuval Diskin, as telling U.S. diplomats, "They are approaching a zero-sum situation, and yet they ask us to attack Hamas."
Diskin is also quoted as saying that Hamas had infiltrated Abbas' Presidential Guard and seized heavy machine guns.
Fatah members quickly denied any approach had been made. Dimitri Diliani, a member of Fatah's revolutionary council, said such comments are part of a smear campaign carried out by Israel, which had never been asked "to address or to assist in any Palestinian national manner."
But Hamas, in a statement that underlines the continuing animosity between the two groups, said that the "WikiLeaks information regarding the scale of security cooperation between the Israeli occupation and Fatah is dangerous information and represents additional evidence regarding the involvement of Fatah with the occupation."
According to the cable, Diskin told U.S. Ambassador Richard H. Jones that Fatah was "on its last legs," and Hamas was "well-organized and ascendant." But he opposed arming Fatah, saying, "They are not organized to ensure that the equipment that is transferred to them will reach the intended recipients."
He was also wary of requests for Fatah members to be trained in Yemen "with a strong al Qaeda presence."
Diskin also had harsh words for Abbas, saying, "He knows he is weak and he has failed. He has failed to rehabilitate Fatah." According to the leaked cable, Diskin also suggested Abbas would soon retire. Abbas continues as president today.
The leaked cables also indicate the Israelis appear to have seen an advantage in Hamas consolidating its control in Gaza. A cable from June 13, 2007, quotes the head of Israeli military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, as saying that "Israel would be 'happy' if Hamas took over Gaza because the (Israel Defense Forces) could then deal with Gaza as a hostile state."
Yadlin played down the threat Hamas represented, saying Iran, Hezbollah and Syria were of greater concern, according to the cable. He said that while Iran already had a presence in Gaza, "Israel could handle the situation so long as Gaza does not have a port."
Today, three years since the cables were written, Hamas still retains control of Gaza, although much of the territory was devastated by the Israeli offensive of January 2009 in retaliation for rocket strikes across the border. The situation in the West Bank, still controlled by the Palestinian Authority, is calmer, with better security and investment assisting economic growth.
Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian lawmaker and former minister, told CNN that the leaked cables show "that the internal division in Palestine is serving only the interest of Israel" and that "Israel itself encouraged this division."