Hamas Tests the EU

The European Union has suspended aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA). The move comes in advance of a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers scheduled for Monday where they will make a final decision on whether to end aid to the PA due to the election of Hamas, which the EU officially recognizes as a terrorist organization.

After Hamas’ election, the EU established three conditions for Hamas to keep the aid spigot flowing: the Hamas government must recognize Israel, honor existing treaties between the PA and Israel, and renounce violence. Notice that all these conditions could be met if Hamas would just rhetorically agree to them. After all, Arafat’s English-language rhetoric denouncing terrorism was more than enough to satisfy the Europeans, even as he’d boast to his own people in Arabic of his unceasing efforts to drive the Jews into the sea.

This, in fact, is precisely the situation that the EU hopes to recreate with Hamas – that Hamas will periodically interrupt its suicide bombings against Israel with verbal assurances of its commitment to peace and a two-state solution. This is the minimum the EU requires to justify funding for terrorists.

But Hamas is not willing to even rhetorically humor the Europeans. Instead, Hamas member and PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar gives interviews advocating the annihilation of Israel and its replacement by an Islamic state.

It’s not easy to humiliate the EU, but it seems that Hamas’s refusal to repeat the EU’s three magic phrases may have done it. So three days before the EU foreign ministers decide the fate of its 600 million Euro annual subsidy to the PA, Hamas has undertaken an unusual maneuver — instead of renouncing violence, every Hamas minister in the PA has renounced his membership in Hamas.

It’s an interesting strategy — now Hamas can argue that the EU can technically continue subsidizing the PA without subsidizing Hamas. What’s more, Hamas ministers are hoping that this gimmick will obviate the need to meet the EU’s three conditions.

The EU is clearly looking for a way to justify funding a Hamas-dominated PA, but for the EU to accept this procedural subterfuge in place of even a rhetorical committment to peace from Hamas would be the equivalent of the EU attaching a giant "Kick Me" sign to its own back.

Could the EU possibly sink to that level of self-abasement? Stay tuned…