Hamas claims increased ‘low-profile’ contact with European countries

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Most European countries are interested in opening doors to Hamas, a member of the Palestinian organization told Britain-based The Guardian on Friday, in remarks suggesting closer ties to Europe.

Speaking after meetings between Hamas and European government representatives and intermediaries that have taken place over recent months, officials from the Islamist group said that ‘low profile’ contacts have been involved in the talks.

“These countries trust us not to disclose information about contacts,” Ahmed Yousef, a member of Hamas’s decision-making body, the Shura council, and a former deputy foreign minister told The Guardian.

“We try to keep the contacts low-profile because it causes trouble. We prefer not to talk about it but I can guarantee that most European countries are interested in opening doors to Hamas.”

The EU government talks come despite the official EU policy of political isolation.

In 2007, the EU banned contact between its member states and the Islamist organization when the latter took over Gaza, the newspaper reported.

Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by Brussels.

Meanwhile, the UK, Netherlands and Sweden denied to The Guardian official government-level contact.

“Some activities are not at official levels, but there are also some at official level, away from the media,” Basem Naim, who is in charge of foreign affairs in the Hamas government in Gaza and a former health minister told the newspaper.

“We have met some ambassadors and some government officials.”

Earlier this year, a senior Hamas member was reported to have announced plans to recruit support for the movement in Europe in order to try and remove it from the EU’s terrorism list.

“European countries set only one condition to do that - avoiding martyrdom attacks inside Israel, and Hamas hasn’t carried out any attack since 2004,” a senior Hamas member was quoted in Palestinian news agency Ma’an as saying.

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