Connect to share and comment

Hamas claims secret meetings with 5 EU countries

If true, the meetings reflect a shift in European stance toward the Islamic group, which is connected to the newly-empowered Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

hamas talks with european union countriesEnlarge
Some of the 500 Palestinian Hamas National security force recruits march during their graduation ceremony in Gaza City on April 19, 2012 (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Hamas officials on Wednesday claimed their group has been in secret talks with five European Union governments, the Associated Press reported.

"If confirmed, such talks would be a sign that the isolation of the Gaza-based Palestinian movement is easing in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings that have brought Islamists to power in parts of the Middle East," wrote the news wire.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the most powerful political party in Egypt, was banned under the rule of former president Hosni Mubarak. Hamas is an offshoot group of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

More from GlobalPost: Hamas break with Syria marks seismic change in region

Hamas made the EU claim from a Beirut office, according to the AP. "I can say it's an important level (of officials), without defining whether it's junior or senior, and the channels are working," said Osama Hamdan, a foreign affairs official.

"It's not just a contact. It's channels of talking," he said. 

The AP wrote that Hamas claimed the UK, France, and the Netherlands were the countries it had channels of contact with. Officials from these countries denied the claim. 

More from GlobalPost: Why are the lights out in Gaza? An explainer.

Meanwhile, talks on forming a reconciliation government between the dueling Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah have reached another stalemate, according to Agence France Presse. Hama ousted Fatah from the Gaza Strip in 2007 and has been ruling the tiny territory since.

Hamas and Fatah announced plans to form a unity government one year ago today, according to The Daily Telegraph. The paper wrote that reconciliation was ranked as the top priority for Palestinians, but there is still no agreement.

"Two hours of talks Wednesday night in Egypt’s capital produced 'nothing new,'" said a Palestinian official, according to AFP.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/israel-and-palestine/120504/hamas-claims-secret-meetings-5-eu-coun