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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Hamas government gaining legitimacy

There are no real cracks yet in the US and EU boycott of the Hamas government, but following Norwegian recognition, they are getting nods from Switzerland and possibly from China:
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh will visit Switzerland in May in what will be his first official state visit to Europe since becoming prime minister, according to a report in the French news agency AFP released Friday.
The report stated that a date has still not been set for the trip.
Ten days ago, Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti said that China and Switzerland informed Palestinian officials that they would meet with the new unity government, a coalition of the Islamic militant Hamas and the moderate Fatah movement.
"We appreciate the position of China and Switzerland, the states that informed us that they are going to deal with our government, without any discrimination between its members," said Barghouti.
Many other countries have said they would meet with only meet with non-Hamas members of the Cabinet.
But Jing Lu, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Tel Aviv, said he was unaware of any change in Chinese policy.
"Up to now, we haven't had any direct contact with Hamas people, including those Hamas members in the unity government," he said.
He said that the Chinese Middle East envoy, Sun Bigan, was was not scheduled to meet with Hamas people during his current visit to the region for talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials.
China was, however, one of the few foreign countries to host members of the previous Hamas government.
Dutch gov't: Haniyeh not welcome
The Dutch government had ruled out a visit by Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, saying he would not get a visa because the European Union considers his Hamas party a terrorist group.
Haniyeh's office had contacted the Dutch government to enquire about documents needed to request a visa as the Palestinian premier wanted to attend a conference on the Palestinians and Europe in Rotterdam on May 5, a spokesman for the Dutch Foreign Ministry said.
"He will not be granted a visa, should he request one officially," the spokesman said. "Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union."
"It is consistent not only to avoid contact with Hamas ministers but also not to let them come to the Netherlands or anywhere else in Europe and spread the message of Hamas."
The European Union has a policy of avoiding contacts with Hamas ministers.
Dutch media reported that Haniyeh had been invited to be the main speaker at a Palestinian-European conference organized by the Dutch-based Palestine Platform for Human Rights and Solidarity.

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