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The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – the standard text of “Jewish conspiracy” theories – as if it were an authentic historical document.”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.)