A high-ranking official said European nations have been holding secret meetings with Hamas, according to the Associated Press.
The news, if true, would mean a major diversion from the customary stance of the EU, which publically renounces Hamas’ position on violence, terrorism and anti-Zionism. As such, EU nations as well as the US have traditionally refused talks with the political party.
Now, Osama Hamdan has told the AP that at least five European countries participated in covert political meetings with Hamas leaders.
"I can say it's an important level [of officials], without defining whether it's junior or senior, and the channels are working," said Hamdan. "It's not just a contact. It's channels of talking."
Hamdan, who is a Hamas representative to Lebanon, would not reveal which countries the group has met with. However, the AP reported that three other Hamas officials stated Britain, France and Holland were among the list. Two included Austria and one mentioned Sweden. The officials said the talks took place over the last few months and were held in Gaza, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey.
The change in position would reflect a softening attitude toward Hamas, which is mostly isolated from contact with the West. The group was originally founded under principles of the Muslim Brotherhood, taking on more support from Islamic fanatics over time. Now, with the Muslim Brotherhood movement gaining momentum following the Arab Spring, some say Western nations may be ready to re-examine relationships with the designated terrorist group.
Hamdan said the European officials brought up the issue of recognition for the Jewish state during the secret meetings, but Hamas has continued to refuse such an idea.
"They [the international community] have to accept the Palestinian democracy," Hamdan said. "We believe that if ... they are ready to accept the results, regardless to the names and the organizations, that would be fine for the Palestinians."