European body wants to mediate with Hamas, Israel

The leading European human rights watchdog has decided to invite Palestinian lawmakers from the Hamas group to Strasbourg in hopes of bringing them together with Israeli counterparts who were also asked to come. The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly said it would invite members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, including Hamas deputies, and members of the Israeli parliament to its April 10-13 session, but did not give any names. Margelov, who leads a committee on the Middle East at the assembly, an advisory body to the council, said it was important not to isolate a Palestinian government. But Israel's Foreign Ministry condemned the idea of inviting Hamas to the Council of Europe, calling Hamas a terrorist organization. "This is a slap in the face to the very principles upon which the Council of Europe was established, namely democracy, human rights and the rule of law," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said.