New York – The ZOA has condemned recent moves within the European Union (EU) to legitimize the Palestinian Islamist terrorist movement, Hamas, which won Palestinian legislative elections last January.
In what appears to be a crack in the formal EU position of not dealing with Hamas until it recognizes Israel and ceases terrorism, the EUs Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) is set to host at least one newly elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) from the victorious Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform List, Mahmoud Ahmad al-Ramahi. Ramahi is from Ramallah and is secretary-general of the PLC.
Though not a formal member of Hamas, he ran in eighth place on Hamas Change and Reform parliamentary list. A European source has said that EMPA is prepared to host Change and Reform List members providing they were not self-declared Hamas members. An official EMPA spokeswoman said that it was hoped in Brussels that none of the delegates would prove to be Hamas members, but that it was not clear what EMPA would do if one or more turned out to be Hamas members or affiliated with Hamas.
In a related development, the Council of Europes Parliamentary Assembly decided this week to invite a Hamas member of the PLC to its next session, to be held in April in Strasbourg, France. Set up in 2003, the Councils Parliamentary Assembly brings together parliamentarians from the 25 EU nations and the EUs 10 Mediterranean partners: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco , the PA, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. Unlike EMPA, however, it has no institutional connection to the EU. However, its invitation to Hamas is a further sign of the weakening of European resolve not to deal with an unreformed Hamas (Jerusalem Post, March 16).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, The EU, as a member of the Quartet (US, EU, UN, Russia) made a commitment that Hamas is not to be dealt with until it does certain things like publicly recognizing Israel and ceasing terrorism. Hamas has done none of these things. It is an unreformed terrorist group whose Charter calls for Israels destruction (Article 15) and the murder of Jews (Article 7). It has murdered nearly 500 Israelis and maimed thousands more in dozens of suicide bombings and hundreds of other acts of terrorism.
If the EU is genuinely interested in promoting peace, it must repudiate all dealings with Hamas and that includes not making absurd distinctions between Hamas and people who are not officially called Hamas but who ran and won seats in the PLC on the Hamas list. To pretend that dealing with such a person does not amount to dealing with Hamas is to play a shell game. Just as Palestinians who voted for Hamas knew who they were voting for, anyone who ran on a Hamas list also clearly knew what Hamas is all about and is obviously is happy with its policies. By doing this, the EU is simply legitimizing Hamas incrementally.
Since being elected, the Hamas leadership has not taken any action to abrogate its Charter or to end terrorism and incitement. On the contrary, several Hamas leaders have reiterated that they will never accept Israel or make peace with her. In these circumstances, there can be no justification for the EU altering its stance on not dealing in any way with Hamas.
To do so sends the clearest signal to Hamas that it need not reform or make any changes. It tells Hamas that all it need do is stick to its murderous platform and others will cave in and accept it. We strongly urge the Bush Administration to publicly oppose this development and bring pressure to bear on the EU to fall into line behind its agreed policy of not dealing with Hamas.