Sakset/Fra hofta

Hverken USA eller EU viser tegn til å ville følge Norges Hamas-vennlige linje. Hva kan det komme av?

På norske journalister – og utenriksministeren – får man inntrykk av at Norge har gått foran, og at de andre vil komme etter. Forstyrrende opplysninger blir bagatellisert, som da EUs utviklingsminister Louis Michel nylig var i Gaza og kom med noen flengende bemerkninger om Hamas, som skyld i krigen og fullt ut fortjent til betegnelsen «terrororganisasjon». Det passer ikke helt inn i det norske kartet at en EU-kommissær uttrykker seg så bryskt.

Men det er hva EU mener: Hamas er en terrororganisasjon, og EU mener fortsatt det. Selv om de har fått mange bomber i hodet. Det gjør dem ikke noe mer fortjent til sympati, selv om norske medier forsøker å spille på en medynkfølelse.

Man får også en bestemt følelse av at norske journalister ikke ser etter kritiske historier om Hamas. En normal bedømming skulle tilsi at Hamas ikke er like populær blant alle. Men hører man dette i reportasjene fra NRK?

Men Kristelig Dagblads Allan Sørensen har møtt folk som kan fortelle hva som skjedde med de som sa hva de mente:

I Gaza er al kritik udover de typiske anti-israelske paroler nemlig en livsfarlig beskæftigelse.

– I Bet Hanoun var der en mand, der udtrykte glæde, da Hamas’ indenrigsminister, Said Siam, blev dræbt af et israelsk missil. Han blev hentet og dræbt få timer senere, siger Ashraf, der selv bor i området.

En mand fra Khan Yunis led samme skæbne, da han omtalte de første israelske bombninger positivt.

– Mange er kritiske over for Hamas, men de vil aldrig drømme om at sige det offentligt. Det er livsfarligt. Hamas står stadig meget stærkt til trods for de omfattende ødelæggelser, siger Ashraf.

Tv-stationen al Arabiya kendte til Said Siams død kort tid efter hændelsen, men tilbageholdt nyheden i et stykke tid på grund af trusler fra Hamas. Heller ikke de erfarne journalister fra den populære arabiske tv-station turde udfordre Hamas.

Hamas får skylden

Irish Times har en nyttig gjennomgang av EUs holdning. Det var krefter som ville følge Gahr Støres linje. Men det avgjørende var Hamas’ blodige kupp sommeren 2007, da man hev folk ned fra høyblokkene og skjøt dem i knærne. Dette var illegitim maktbruk, og siden det har EU vært krystallklare på at Mahmoud Abbas representerer den legitime makten. Det samme mener selvsagt USA. Men norske journalister og regjeringen later fortsatt som om den eneste veien til en løsning går gjennom samtaler med Hamas.

Since 2001, when the EU first decided to follow the US precedent and annually publish its terror blacklist, there has been much debate within the Union over whether Hamas, which violently opposed the Oslo process in the 1990s, should be added to that list.

In 2002, the EU agreed to proscribe Izzedin al-Kassam, Hamas’s military wing, but the consensus view remained that Hamas’s political wing had a role to play in the political process and should not be isolated. As then-EU special envoy to the Middle East, Miguel Angel Moratinos, explained in December 2002: «Hamas faces a clear choice between the Turkish model of democratic Islam, and the al-Qaeda model.»

However, the refusal of Hamas to abandon violence resulted in Britain, along with the Netherlands, demanding a crackdown on a group that was, in the words of then British foreign secretary Jack Straw, «literally trying to blow [up] this peace process».

Despite opposition from other members, notably Ireland, Spain and France, this view finally gained EU-wide support in 2004 and Hamas was blacklisted.

The subsequent revelation (later retracted) by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana that he met Hamas secretly in late 2004 highlighted the EU’s ongoing failure to develop and apply a consistent approach to this militant group.

The success of Hamas in the third round of Palestinian municipal elections in May 2005 and especially the group’s victory in the January 2006 Palestinian legislative elections also provided much ammunition for those within the EU keen to end Hamas’s status as a terror group.

In the wake of these elections, senior politicians from across the EU expressed support for engaging with Hamas. Finland’s then foreign minister, Erkki Tuomioja, argued that «it is not the same party it was before the elections».

His Italian counterpart, Massimo D’Alema, argued that Hamas had a «political side» and compared the body to the IRA and ETA, the Basque separatist movement, which became «political movements from being terror groups». Even the British and the Dutch, who had initiated the original ban, seemed to be moving towards this position.

On top of this, the EU’s growing difficulty in providing humanitarian assistance, especially fuel and welfare payments, to the people of Gaza without engaging directly with Hamas, meant that by May 2007 it was reviewing the ban on direct aid to the Hamas-dominated government and most commentators were predicting EU-Hamas talks in the near future.

But Hamas’s violent overthrow of Fatah in Gaza in June 2007 changed everything because it directly threatened a cornerstone of the EU’s Middle East policy since the late 1970s – support for Fatah, first under Yasser Arafat and now under Abbas, as the representative of the Palestinian people.

As such, the EU immediately condemned Hamas for its «violent» seizure of Gaza, and gave Abbas the green light to take action to remove the Hamas threat and made no bones about it. As Solana explained: «What we think is that this [Abbas-led Palestinian Authority] government . . . is the only legitimate government that we should support.»

This explains the EU’s endorsement of Abbas’s dismissal of the Hamas-dominated unity government after only three months in office, and his proposal to call early elections to oust Hamas at the ballot box.

Michel’s condemnation of the Islamist group reminds us that the recent Gaza conflict has done nothing to soften the EU approach to Hamas. On the contrary, the Israeli offensive in recent weeks has left Hamas on its knees and an emboldened EU, led by Louis Michel’s verbal rocket attack, is intent on doing its bit to finish off the group.

This is very bad news for a battered and war-weary Hamas – not simply because it comes on the heels of US President Barack Obama’s harsh criticism of the group.


War has not eased EU anti-Hamas policy