22nd Jun 2021

Germany negotiating with Hamas, says Egypt

  • Hamas support rally (Photo: Hoheit)

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has said that Germany has been working with Cairo in talks with Hamas over Israeli prisoner Gilad Shalit - an activity which may fall foul of the European Union's common position of refusing contact with the militant group.

In an interview on American TV broadcast on Monday (17 August) night in advance of a meeting between Mr Mubarak and US president Barack Obama, the Egyptian leader said: "We were just about to secure [Shalit's] release in our custody and solve this problem, but external interventions, outside interventions hindered that. But we are working on that and in collaboration and co-operation with the Germans."

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"Israel added certain terms and conditions that impeded progress - that is, in addition to external interventions," he went on. "So we are doing an effort, and the Germans are willing to join hands and we do welcome them in order to secure that.

"The deal or the agreement was to take care of Shalit and that Israel would release a number of prisoners, and when this is done we will hand over Shalit to the Israelis. We are still following this. Our intelligence organisation is working on that."

When asked for further details by EUobserver, German government officials were familiar with the TV interview but declined to comment because the issue involves the country's intelligence services.

"We can neither confirm nor deny Mr Mubarak's comments. We never comment on these affairs, as this involves activities of the secret services," Rudiger Petz, a senior spokesperson for the German federal government, told this website.

"Only a parliamentary committee is allowed to ask questions of the secret services."

The German foreign ministry also declined to discuss the issue of co-operation with Mr Mubarak.

"We hope that Mr Shalit will be released very soon, a hope we share with our EU partners," a foreign ministry source said.

"We do stick to the criteria of the Middle East quartet, which are [that Hamas embrace] nonviolence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including roadmap [international peace plan] obligations."

The EU in 2003 placed Hamas on its blacklist of "terrorist" organisations and has declined to have any diplomatic-level contacts with the group since.

The EU approach follows that of the Middle East quartet - an informal Middle East peace process group composed of the UN, the US, the EU and Russia.

In Brussels quarters however, the matter is not believed to be in breach of the EU common position despite the blacklist, as the German activities are not occurring at a high-level, such as between the German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and the Palestinian militant group.

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