Editorial Note: The
following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also
include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology.
Comments are in parentheses.
EU Foreign Ministers debate Hamas
participation in peace negotiations
Tuesday March 11, 2008 15:49 by Manar Jibrin - IMEMC
EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs debated how to deal
with the Hamas movement with regard to the peace negotiations between
the Palestinians and the Israelis.
After a meeting in Brussels on Monday, Ursula Blasnek, Austrian Minster
of Foreign Affairs was quoted as saying that "I could see the necessity
now for all sides of taking responsibility and participation."
She showed indirect support for negotiation with Hamas over the opening
of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, on the condition
that Hamas agree to work closely with the Fatah movement, which she
described as " moderate".
Frank Walter Shteinmar, German Minster of Foreign Affairs expressed his
skepticism about this proposed policy toward Hamas, saying that "Surely,
the situation is not becoming easy for President Mahmoud Abbas. On the
contrary the space that is available for him for reaching agreements
with Israel is more difficult."
He added, "of course we support the Egyptian efforts in curbing
violence. But I think that the idea of Hamas' participation in the peace
process that was resumed in Annapolis is a bad one."
A proposal was presented at the EU Ministers' meeting on the necessity
of having direct negotiations with the Palestinian groups, but they
could not agree on a joint vision towards this issue. The EU considers
the Hamas movement a "terrorist group".
Other EU Ministers of Foreign affairs support the Egyptian strategy of
mediating between the Israeli and Palestinian sides as a compromise
solution between Hamas' participation in and exclusion from any peace
negotiations. Jan Aselborn, Luxembourg's Minister of Foreign affairs,
said that "we have to support Egypt's efforts to give a small chance for
reviving the peace process."
David Meleband, British Minister of Foreign affairs said that despite
the need for the participation of all those involved in the Middle East
peace process, priority should be given to the direct negotiations
between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister
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