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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Euroweenies consider lowering the bar for Hamas

The European Union is moving towards lowering the bar to enable Hamas to receive international aid. As you will recall, the civilized world set three conditions for dealing with Hamas: ending terrorism, accepting previous agreements and recognizing Israel. Now, the Europeans want to 'revisit' those conditions with a view to 'staggering' them.
"No one is questioning the need for the three conditions," a senior European diplomatic source said. "But maybe if you cannot get wholesale adherence by Hamas to these three conditions, why not start with one, and see where that gets us."

He said that the one condition that should be insisted upon is an immediate stop to terrorism. "That is more important than the rest," he said. "After that, we could talk about getting them to accept the Oslo framework."

This, he said, could then lead to the implied recognition of Israel, because the Oslo framework is predicated on a two-state solution.

"But this [recognition of Israel] is not something that needs to be up front," he said.

The official said there was a growing feeling in Europe that it was a tactical mistake to agree to bundle all the conditions into one demand, "since not all three requirements are of the same value."

"There is some realization," he said, that "putting things so bluntly wasn't constructive and drove Hamas into the arms of the radical wing in Damascus."

He said this reevaluation of the three conditions is part of a general stocktaking in Europe of the situation in the Middle East.

"It is part of coming to grips with the reality that after seven months, things have gone nowhere and are worse than they were, especially after the war in Lebanon," he said.

Diplomatic officials in Israel acknowledged that there were voices calling for a reassessment of the three conditions inside Europe.

But, one said, "for the time being" it does not look like Europe would "soften" the three conditions or stagger them. But, he stressed, the operative words were "for the time being," and this might change as these voices gain traction.

The concern is that if Hamas continues to stubbornly toe "a hard line," the Europeans will say: "Oops, maybe we should cave in," he said, adding however that as of now Germany, Britain, France, the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Denmark and Holland are holding firm behind the three conditions.
Read it all. And watch for the Europeans - at least - to adopt it as policy.


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