In a move described as a political-strategic turnaround with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the European Union decided to renew low-level talks with Hamas, Israeli sources reported.
The EU has informed the U.S. surprise with this substantial shift in its contacts with an organization regarded as a terrorist one by both.
The EUÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s decision allows low-level European diplomats – below the rank of ambassador – to conduct talks with Hamas representatives who are running in the elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council.
The decision by the EU created uproar among Israeli politicians which some of them exchanged harsh words with British officials on the matter.Ã‚Â They charged that this decision will weaken the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israeli politicians are discussing whether to fight against the EU involvement in the implementation of the Road Map peace plan, the source said.
On the other hand, few weeks ago, some British diplomats met with some Mayors from Hamas who won recent local elections.Ã‚Â On his visit last week to Israel, U.K. Foreign Secretary Jack straw, said this move does not reflect BritainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s general policy.Ã‚Â Straw is among those who led the move to list Hamas as a terrorist organization on UK and EU lists.
He said there should be no talks with Hamas until it recognizes Israel and abandons armed resistance.
Despite the fact the Hamas is listed on the terror list of the EU and the U.S., the EU distinguishes between the political and the armed wings of the movement, while the U.S. regards both similar.
Such a distinction stands behind this latest EU decision to open talks with Hamas, especially that talks will be held only with the political arm of the movement
In 2002, the EU added Hamas’ military wing to its list of terrorist groups, but refrained from blacklisting the organization’s political arm. France argued at the time that the political arm could play a role in peace talks with Israel in the future.