Israel criticizes EU for holding talks with Hamas
Israel disclosed Thursday it had protested increasing European Union contacts with Hamas. "We believe Europeans should be strengthening moderate Palestinians and not appeasing the extremists," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev, according to The AP. "Anything that demonstrates acceptance of Hamas as a legitimate player is a problem."
In Brussels, EU spokeswoman Elena Peresso said the union has reached no collective decision on whether to change its policy toward Hamas.
Both the U.S. and the EU list Hamas as a "terrorist" group.
Regev said Israeli officials are in contact with EU officials, including discussions Thursday, to convey Israeli concerns about the meetings with Hamas. "Hamas is a murderous terrorist movement that has been responsible for countless acts of suicide bombings throughout Israel against innocent civilians," he said.
Hamas officials said the group is in contact with EU diplomats despite the Europeans' official designation of Hamas as terrorists, and that the contacts have recently intensified. Mohammed Ghazal, a senior Hamas representative in the West Bank said most of the contacts in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were with lower-level EU diplomats, but that higher level contacts between the EU and Hamas were taking place abroad.