When Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006, Europe had a problem.
18 October 2023// Euro News
The Palestinian democracy it had helped build after the 1993 Oslo Accords delivered a result it was deeply uncomfortable with – electoral victory for a group it considered terrorists.
The West immediately boycotted the democratically elected Hamas-led government until it agreed to recognise Israel and renounce violence. Hamas refused and went on to take control of the Gaza strip in 2007.
The European Union has since been one of the biggest donors of critical aid to Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, propping up the local economy and preventing its people from plunging into poverty.
But the EU has done this while maintaining a strict policy of ‘no contact’ with Hamas, refusing to engage with the militant group and channelling aid to Gaza through United Nations (UN) agencies and other organisations it considers outside Hamas’ orbit in order to side-step the government.
In its latest decision in a botched response to the war, the European Commission on Saturday tripled its humanitarian support for Palestinians to €75 million euros. Meanwhile, it is “reviewing” approximately €396 million in unspent development aid to ensure no EU money has inadvertently come into contact with Hamas.
Euronews spoke to two experts deeply divided on the EU’s decision to isolate Hamas, and its impact on the bloc’s diplomatic leverage in the region.