Reassuring

Posted by John Rosenthal

An unidentified European diplomat, as quoted in Friday’s
(17 June) Le Figaro
, on recent EU contacts with Hamas:

We have had technical diplomatic contacts with Hamas, but this
does not mean a change of European policy with respect to this movement that
continues to be on the European Union’s list of terrorist
organizations.

Does this mean that the EU would also be
prepared to have “technical diplomatic contacts” with Al-Qaeda?

Incidentally, EU contacts with Hamas are nothing new. I discussed earlier
contacts, and, notably, the role of the EU in “facilitating” meetings between
Hamas and Fatah, in this
April 2003 article
. A November 2002 Hamas-Fatah “summit” in Cairo was
attended by Alistair Crook, the Security Advisor of then EU Middle East Envoy
(and current Spanish Foreign Minister) Miguel Moratinos. (See, for instance,
“Terrorists, Liberals, and the EU”, Jerusalem Post, 15 November 2002). What
seems to be new is the EU’s willingness or perhaps even desire to have the
contacts publicized. If one is to judge by Javier Solana’s quick
backdown last November after having mentioned meetings with Hamas to the
BBC
, it was until recently still EU policy to deny them.

As I wrote
in my 2003 article, “it is revealing that the EU should regard as a legitimate
interlocutor an organization whose very Charter, among other things, denies
Israel the right of existence, excludes in principle any peaceful solution to
the Middle East conflict, and makes allusion to the infamous 19th century
forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – the standard text of “Jewish
conspiracy” theories – as if it were an authentic historical document.” EU
officials are said to believe that they can have a “moderating” influence on
Hamas. To judge by the reaction of Hamas spokesperson Mouchir al-Masri, this
might take some doing. “Hamas is open to dialogue with all countries,” Mr.
al-Masri is quoted as saying in the above-cited article from Le Figaro, “except
with the Zionist enemy….”

(Note: In light of the similarities between
Hamas and Fatah, Matt at
Eurabian Times finds the EU-Hamas contacts hardly surprising
.)

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