Wed, Jan 28, 2009
OPINION:Minor wobbles aside, EU support for Fatah has meant consistent opposition to Hamas, writes RORY MILLER.
SPEAKING ON a visit to the Gaza Strip on Monday, Louis Michel, the EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, ripped into Hamas. Placing "overwhelming responsibility" for the recent Gaza crisis on the Islamist group, he dismissed it as a "terrorist movement" that "has to be denounced as such".
But Michel's statement is neither surprising nor dismaying. Rather, it is the inevitable stance of a Union that after years of division is now united in the view that Hamas is the major obstacle to a durable political settlement between Israel and Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.
In 2002, the EU agreed to proscribe Izzedin al-Kassam, Hamas's military wing, but the consensus view remained that Hamas's political wing had a role to play in the political process and should not be isolated. As then-EU special envoy to the Middle East , Miguel Angel Moratinos, explained in December 2002: "Hamas faces a clear choice between the Turkish model of democratic Islam, and the al-Qaeda model."
Despite opposition from other members, notably Ireland , Spain and France, this view finally gained EU-wide support in 2004 and Hamas was blacklisted.
Now Hamas has nowhere to turn and no one to blame but itself.
© 2009 The Irish Times