Monday

11th Nov 2019

Israeli report slams EU contacts with Hamas and Hizbollah

  • Hamas and Hizbullah may take the political road like the IRA (Photo: thesetides.com)

Israel believes the EU is violating international law by talking to the Lebanese islamist group Hizbollah and planning talks with Palestinian opposition movement Hamas, according to an internal document seen by an Israeli paper.

The report comes after EU foreign ministers last month decided to engage in strictly technical contacts with Hamas political candidates in next month’s Palestinian parliamentary elections, which will be monitored by an EU mission.

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The Israeli foreign ministry claims that this move represents a policy shift, as Hamas is on the EU's own list of terrorist organisations, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.

The paper quotes an internal Israeli foreign ministry document as saying "Several [EU] countries have adopted a policy that includes entering into official talks with representatives of Hamas and Hizbollah, or refraining from taking harsh measures against their involvement in terrorism."

The document goes on to write that "From a legal standpoint, such political considerations cannot justify activity that is contrary to international law."

EU external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said last month that contact with Hamas is limited to "electoral matters."

But Israeli officials fear that European electoral monitors - such as members of the European Parliament - will make use of "technical" contact with Hamas members at voting stations to hold political discussions as well.

Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot told journalists last month that a broader discussion on the EU’s strategy towards Hamas is currently going on between member states, with the Netherlands fiercely opposing direct talks with the Palestinian group.

But he indicated that Britain has been pointing to its own experiences with pacifying the terrorist group IRA through dialogue and inclusion in the political process.

With regard to Hizbollah, Israel's foreign ministry claims that the group is kept off the EU’s common list of terrorist organisations because some member states make a distinction between its military and political wings.

A majority of the European Parliament voted in March to include Hizbollah on the list, but several EU countries, including Britain and France, have resisted the move.

Israel's foreign ministry, though, points out that active or passive support of terrorist groups is outlawed by UN Security Council resolution 1373, which was adopted following the September 11 attacks on the United States.

The UN resolution outlaws active or passive support to terrorist groups.

The fresh EU-Israeli conflict over Hamas and Hizbollah comes after a confidential report by top EU diplomats was leaked last month, slamming rapid Israeli expansion of Jewish settlements in and around east Jerusalem.

EU foreign ministers are expected to discuss the report today (12 December).

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