26th Sep 2022

Brussels takes cautious line on Hamas victory

Brussels has reacted with caution to election results from the Palestinian territories, indicating a huge win for the islamist Hamas faction, branded by the EU as a terrorist organisation.

With a majority of votes counted on Thursday (26 January), Hamas seemed to be heading for a shock win in the Palestinian parliamentary elections.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qurei and his cabinet, belonging to the secular Fatah party early on Thursday morning announced their resignation, while later dismissing an offer from Hamas to form a coalition government, according to media reports.

The EU, the biggest provider of aid to the Palestinian Authority, said it would work with any Palestinian government that is committed to peace.

"We are happy to work with any government if that government is prepared to work by peaceful means," said external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner in a statement.

"In holding competitive and credible elections the Palestinians have shown their commitment to determine their political future via democratic means," she added.

On questions about how the EU would explain that it could consider working with an organisation placed on the EU's own terror list, a commission spokesperson answered that technically, the partner would not be Hamas.

"We do not work with political parties," the spokeswoman told a press conference in Brussels.

"Our relationship is with the Palestinian Authority. We hope to continue to work with an authority that stands by its commitment to peace. If it breaches those commitments then we will have to review where we stand."

EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana expressed his disquiet by acknowledging that "these results may confront us with an entirely new situation," but would not suggest any concrete moves before an EU foreign ministers meeting set for next Monday.

Member states not so lenient with Hamas

But member state politicians lined up to express their concern at the situation.

Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, lamented the victory of Hamas, saying the outcome of the elections was a "very, very, very bad result."

"If this news was confirmed, everything we had hoped for, that chance for peace between Israel and Palestine, is postponed to who knows when," Mr Berlusconi indicated.

UK foreign minister Jack Straw urged the militant group to renounce violence and recognise Israel, saying "Hamas has to understand that with democracy goes renunciation of violence."

German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said there were two conditions for the EU to work with Hamas.

"The forces that join the government must renounce violence," he said according to German public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk, adding that the second condition was respecting Israel's right to exist.

Swedish foreign minister Laila Freivalds indicated according to Swedish media "The EU cannot cooperate with a regime which doesn't distance itself from violence and which does not recognise Israel’s right to exist."

MEP says EU funding should be stopped

EPP-ED conservative MEP Elmar Brok pleaded for extra pressure on Hamas, stating "European Union funding for Palestine has to be stopped, if Hamas as the party in government does not renounce violence and its aim to destroy Israel."

But British conservative MEP Edward McMillan-Scott, a member of the European Parliament's 30 member strong delegation observing the Palestinian elections, said that the peaceful election offered a sign of hope.

"One hopeful pointer as to the future disposition of Hamas is the fact that it has held to its promise of several months to uphold a ceasefire," he indicated.

"It may take several weeks for the new Palestinian government to take shape - and even then it will probably have to tread water until the outcome of Israel's March general election is clear".

Europe's far-right celebrates Meloni victory

In Warsaw and Budapest, the prime ministers were quick to congratulate the new Italian leader, who — they hope — will back them in their battles with the EU over civil rights, rule of law and democratic backsliding.

EU seeks crisis powers to take control over supply chains

The Single Market Emergency Instrument (SMEI) introduces a staged, step-by-step, approach — providing emergency powers to the EU Commission to tackle any potential threat which could trigger disruptions or shortages of key products within the EU.

Testimony from son rocks trial of ex-Czech PM Babiš

In a fraud trial relating to €2m in EU subsidies, Andrej Babiš son testified his signature on share-transfer agreements was forged. He claims his father transferred the shares to him without his knowledge, making him a front man for scheme.


How Europe helped normalise Georgia Meloni

Should Georgia Meloni be considered neofascist? She insists she's a patriotic conservative. And indeed, if she's prime minister, she's expected to respect Italy's democracy — if only to keep money flowing from the EU.


Background reads: Italy's election

With Italy heading to the ballot boxes this Sunday, let's take a look at what EUobserver has published that can help understand the country's swing to the (far)-right.

News in Brief

  1. Confirmed: EU drops call for 'independent' Abu Akleh probe
  2. EU plan to stop firework abuse in football stadiums
  3. More Russians now crossing Finnish land border
  4. Report: EU to propose €584bn energy grid upgrade plan
  5. Morocco snubs Left MEPs probing asylum-seeker deaths
  6. EU urges calm after Putin's nuclear threat
  7. Council of Europe rejects Ukraine 'at gunpoint' referendums
  8. Lithuania raises army alert level after Russia's military call-up

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  5. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling

Latest News

  1. Europe's far-right celebrates Meloni victory
  2. EU mulls more police powers for west Africa missions
  3. EU fight on illegal fishing must move from paper to online
  4. EU adding Bahamas to tax-haven blacklist
  5. Czech presidency proposes fossil-fuel tax compromise
  6. Ukraine's cyber resistance is impressive - but hard to replicate
  7. 'Grazie Italia': Far-right wins power in Rome
  8. How the EU is failing to help the hippo

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us