When the EU court ruled that Hamas was not a terror organization, European countries hurried to explain this was just a 'bureaucratic matter'.
In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, Hamas' foreign relations chief Osama Hamdan revealed that several weeks ago in Qatar, the movement's leadership met a delegation of high-ranking European diplomats. He expressed optimism about a European decision to strike Hamas from its list of terrorist organizations.
Hamdan: Hamas is keen to maintain balanced and open relations at the regional and international levels. It has succeeded over the past three decades since its founding in 1987 to establish channels of communication with several Arab, Islamic and Western states. It now has a wide network of political and diplomatic relations, but the United States has exerted pressure on many countries, influencing them not to cooperate with Hamas’ efforts to build relations.
Hamas today has a good communications system, including many countries other than Arab and Islamic countries. It has relations with the Russian Federation, Brazil in Latin America, Nigeria and South Africa on the African continent and China, Malaysia and Indonesia in Asia. On the European continent, Hamas has strong ties with Switzerland and Norway. It also has good ties with three other European countries that prefer not to be open about this relationship to avoid any embarrassment with Washington.
Al-Monitor: News has been recently spreading among Hamas circles about the possibility of striking Hamas’ name off the European Union's list of terrorist organizations. What is new on this subject? What about your latest meetings with European officials?
Hamdan: Hamas has won a legal battle, as the General Court of the European Union had decided in 2014 to annul EU measures maintaining Hamas on the European list of terrorist organizations, and we are still waiting for the European political decision to implement the court ruling. We believe that this positive decision in favor of Hamas is approaching day by day.
Hamas has held a series of meetings with European political circles, most recently in the first week of November 2016 in Qatar, when the head of the movement’s political bureau, Khaled Meshaal, and a Hamas leadership delegation met a high-level European delegation, including European Foreign Ministry officials. The two sides discussed various topics, and the European delegation expressed a positive position toward Hamas, although the visit was not covered by the media.