The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

EU inches towards Hamas

EU’s Foreign Ministers continued to reluctantly inch towards accepting Hamas in a Palestinian government of national union during their meeting yesterday.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union foreign ministers agreed on Friday to back a Palestinian national unity government being formed by President Mahmoud Abbas with the Hamas Islamist movement, despite U.S. misgivings.

"We agreed that we have to support the new Palestinian government. It's a very important turning point for the situation," Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema told Reuters.

While some countries such as France, Finland or Slovakia appear to be ready to accept Hamas in government, others such as the UK, Germany or the Netherlands hesitate, also considering that the Bush administration has not changed its position.

Washington said on Thursday it saw no grounds so far to lift the embargo on contacts and aid.

But many European governments are anxious to end the stand-off, which has contributed to aggravated poverty and lawlessness in the Palestinian territories.

I think it’s a mere question of time when the EU will come to terms with the new reality in Palestinian politics, and in the end the EU’s desire to play a more active role in the region independent from Washington could be the last push to normalize relations with Hamas.