Last week, British businessman David Martin Abrahams met with senior Hamas official Abdel Aziz Dwaik as part of a mission to "facilitate dialogue between Hamas and the international community." His visit raised a storm of controversy on two points: first, he announced that Hamas was prepared to accept the existence of the state of Israel, a statement that Hamas leaders hurried to deny; and second, Palestinian Authority officials warned that such meetings would only legitimize Hamas, a terrorist organization.
Now Israel has barred Belgian development aid minister Charles Michel from visiting the Gaza Strip because he was likely to have a political meeting with Hamas as well. This was not just an idle suspicion; as EUobserver reports:
"Despite the stated EU stance towards Hamas, it is an open secret that European member state officials maintain links with the Gaza administration.
Last year, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said that Germany was working with Hamas towards the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held prisoner by the Islamic group, while a Hamas spokesman told EUobserver that it holds meetings on a weekly basis with different diplomatic contacts from France, Spain, Germany, Italy, the UK and Luxembourg."
Israel and the Palestinian Authority may well wonder, with friends like these, who needs enemies?