A Hamas demonstration in the Gaza Strip
Photo: Reuters

Hamas says it's holding talks with 5 EU countries

Senior Hamas official says group in talks with several key European Union nations despite EU's position to the contrary; Jerusalem sources say talks 'meaningless'

A senior Hamas official said Wednesday that the Islamic militant group has been holding secret political talks with five European Union member-states in recent months.


The EU officially maintains that it will not deal with Hamas unless the group renounces violence and recognizes Israel.


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Osama Hamdan, who handles foreign relations for Hamas, told The Associated Press that talks with European government officials focus on the Hamas positions toward Israel and paralyzed Mideast peace efforts.


Hamas chief Mashaal (R) with Turkish PM Erdogan (Photo: AP)


Officials in Britain, France and Austria denied their governments are conducting talks with Hamas, while officials in Sweden and the Netherlands could not immediately be reached for comment.


'Talks meaningless'

Official sources within the Foreign Ministry were unfazed by the reports, saying that they were "meaningless." The ministry added that "the EU is meticulous in acting according to the Quartet's decisions and Hamas is on the terror list."


Jerusalem sources added that "low-lever overtures are taking place all the time, mostly by Hamas, to see if there is any change in the EU's position.


"Those involved are usually low-level or junior diplomats, such as former British intelligence officer Alastair Crooke, who is pro-Hamas, and he usually just tells a tall tale and not much else."


According to the sources, as long as no high-ranking officials – such as premiers of foreign ministers – were taking part in the talks, Israel will not interfere.


Europe and the US have been rethinking Mideast policy since the Arab Spring uprisings toppled several pro-Western regimes in favor of Islamists.


Hamdan would not name the countries. Three Hamas officials in Hamas-ruled Gaza said Britain, France and Holland are among them.


There was no immediate comment from EU countries.


Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report



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פרסום ראשון: 05.02.12, 19:54
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