The aid that the European Union hands over to the Palestinians comes with certain conditions: rejection of violence, recognition of Israel and of the Oslo peace accords.
Now Brussels has a dilemma. Hamas, which won last week’s election, has been classified as a terrorist organisation since 2003. According to Leila Shahid, the Palestinian Authority’s representative in Brussels, it is not in Europe’s interests to cut ties with the Palestinians. “The complexity of the situation demands that the Europeans look more long term, rather than saying here is a terrorist organisation that we have on our list that we’re not prepared to deal with,” she told EuroNews. “They have the same problem with Hezbollah in Lebanon, they have the same problem with the state of Israel, which also leads state terrorism actions when it kills Palestinian civilians or when it categorically refuses to recognise that the Palestinians also have the right to their own state.” Leila Shahid rejects any suggestion that European aid will be used to promote the Islamisation of Palestinian society. “Hamas isn’t like the Taliban, we don’t have madrassas religious schools like the Taliban. Palestinian society isn’t fundamentalist, the majority is secular.You would be surprised that lots of Christians voted for Hamas, because they wanted to sanction, to punish Fatah, which over the past 10 years hasn’t managed to give them what it promised, that’s to say peace and a Palestinian state,” she aruges. “So they’re looking for a change in power, they’re voting for the opposition to Fatah.” “And I think that the EU, and also the Quartet, could have a gradual policy towards Hamas, one that would give Hamas a way out, to evolve on the political and ideological front, if there’s real dialogue. If there’s a split then I think it would be the worst possible situation for the Palestinians, for the Israelis and also for the Europeans,” she concludes.