Israeli officials expressed skepticism on Saturday about Hamas claims that
European governments have stepped up back-channel contacts with the
organization, which is on the EU’s terror blacklist.
The officials said
it was not coincidental Hamas was making these claims at a time when it has long
lost its key backer in Syria, and over the last few weeks has lost an important
supporter in deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.
among Hamas, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood was considered close, and Morsi’s
fall has been widely interpreted as an additional blow to
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who lost a key
supporter two years ago when Hosni Mubarak was deposed, spoke with Egypt’s
interim President Adly Mansour over the weekend.
“I am not aware of any
back channel,” the Israeli official said of the report in The Guardian, adding
that he was skeptical because Hamas was the source for the story. “In they past
they have spoken to some parliamentarians, but it does not mean a
After Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007, the international
community clamped three conditions on engagement with the organization: that it
renounces terrorism, recognize Israel, and accept previous Israel-Palestinian
“I remember the cynicism back then, when everyone said these
conditions would not hold. But they did hold. If the story is now that there is
some kind of back channel, the truth remains that Hamas had fundamentally
remained in diplomatic isolation. The international community has for the most
part stood by the benchmarks and refused to have diplomatic relations with
Hamas,” he said.
There are some exceptions, most notably Russia, Turkey,
Norway and Switzerland.
According to the official, the whole matter of
engagement with Hamas has not been raised by Netanyahu in meetings with EU
officials for quite some time, a sign that it is not currently considered a
The Guardian report quoted Hamas officials as saying
meetings with European government representatives and intermediaries have taken
place in Gaza, Cairo and various European capitals over recent months. No
specific details of the meetings were given, but among the countries named were
Britain, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Italy and Spain.
paper said that the UK, Netherlands and Sweden denied contact, while the other
countries did not respond to requests for a comment.