EU: Hamas must recognize Israel

Hamas to remain on EU terror list until committed to peaceful means.

Hamas "will remain in the EU list of terrorist organizations" until it "recognizes the state of Israel" and "commits to solving the conflict through peaceful means," the EU's Ambassador to Israel Ramiro Cibrian-Uzal told reporters during a meeting with the press on Monday. The diplomat walked a fine line between denouncing Hamas while at the same time explaining that the EU "respects" the decision of the Palestinian Authority to allow the militia group to run in the January Palestinian Legislative Council elections. But Cibrian-Uzal cautioned that having said that, "there is a contradiction between the willingness to participate in the democratic process and the maintenance of armed militia groups. Armed militias have no place in the Palestinian Authority." It would be best if the PA can impose as soon as possible the rule of law in which there would be no such armed groups, he said. In the upcoming elections, he said, he hoped that all parties would commit to the "basic principals of democracy and denounce violence." He referred to the statement approved by the EU's External Relation's Council last week which called on "Palestinian groups who engaged in terrorism to abandon this course and engage in the democratic process." It called on all Palestinian factions including Hamas to "renounce violence, recognize Israel's right to exist and to disarm. Ultimately those who want to be part of the political process should not engage in political activities." When it came to the status of Israeli construction in east Jerusalem or elsewhere beyond the pre-1967 border, Cibrian-Uzal said that the EU's position was clear and well known, "it's illegal." He said that the EU had long disagreed with Israel on this issue. The EU recognizes the pre-1967 line as the border. The EU believes that "international borders can only be changed by mutual agreement," he said. The EU, therefore, would only recognize a change to those borders only after they were part of an agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. In allowing for the possibility of an agreement that would change that border, Cibrian-Uzal was gentler in tone than than the EU draft policy report on east Jerusalem, which was leaked to the media late last week. Cibrian-Uzal said he could not comment on a report that had yet to be approved, but noted that the Council at it's last meeting spoke of its concern regarding east Jerusalem. He called the presence of EU monitors at the Rafah crossing a positive development and said that if requested by both sides the EU would be interested in playing a similar role in a future Palestinian airport and seaport. Following both the Palestinian and the Israeli elections, he said he hoped the Road Map would be relaunched, explaining that he believes the two sides were in phase one of the process. Cibrian-Uzal side-stepped questions about who he would want to see elected by explaining that he supported all candidates who were committed to the pursuit of peace.