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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

European foreign ministers won't meet with Hamas?

Since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip, it has been Israeli policy not to let foreigners enter the Strip from the Israeli crossing points (with very few exceptions) and not to meet with anyone who meets with the leadership as part of the same trip. Is that policy in jeopardy?

In Italy last month, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman invited his Italian counterpart, Franco Frattini, to lead a delegation of European foreign ministers to the Strip to observe how aid is being delivered and that there is no 'humanitarian crisis' there. But who is going to show these Europeans around Gaza? According to the Foreign Ministry, it won't be Hamas.
An expected visit to Gaza later this month by the foreign ministers of Italy, France and Spain does not mean that Israel will now allow any foreign visitor access to the Strip, an Israeli diplomatic official said Monday.

The official was responding to an announcement Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero made in Madrid on Monday, saying at a press conference with visiting Syrian President Bashar Assad that the three foreign ministers “have a visit to Gaza in their calendars for this month, to check on how the internal process of lifting of the blockade is going.”


According to the parameters of the invitation, the foreign ministers would not meet Hamas officials while in Gaza. They are to also visit Sderot and Ashdod Port, where they will be able to view the process of transferring Gaza-bound goods that arrive by sea.

Israeli diplomatic officials said that just as Israel permitted a visit earlier in the year by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, it was now inviting the EU foreign ministers.

But, the official said, this did not mean that every visit requested from now on would be approved.
And what would happen if these foreign ministers met with Hamas officials? Would Israel not let them recross into Israel and insist that they exit through the Egyptian crossing point at Rafah? That could get interesting.

I don't see why they need to enter Gaza at all. They can see the aid operation from the Israeli side and confirm that aid is getting in. Since the Europeans place so much faith in Hamas, I'm sure it would never occur to them that Hamas might be diverting aid intended for poor 'Palestinians.'



At 12:42 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Europeans have no interest in getting rid of Hamas. Perhaps Foreign Minister Lieberman should take the time to explain the facts of life to them - that they got what they wanted in the new blockade policy and that a Palestinian state is now impossible, thanks largely to them. Then let's see how they react to being enlightened.



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