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Israel Seeks Euro Alternative to Hamas Welfare

Israel Seeks European Alternative to Hamas Welfare Services

Israel is proposing that Europe takes a role in Middle East peace efforts by setting up social and welfare services in the Israeli – occupied Palestinian territory like those run by Hamas, in a bid to erode the Islamic group's support base, a senior Israeli official said.

Speaking after a late-night meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his British counterpart Tony Blair, the official said the two leaders discussed an Israeli proposal to bring about “the complete de-legitimization of Hamas” and other similar anti-occupation groups.

The plan would allow for Europe to take a role in Middle East peacemaking efforts by providing the Palestinian public with some of the social and welfare services currently offered by Hamas.

“What would influence the Palestinian public’s support for Hamas is British and European action to (offer an alternative to) those services,” he explained.

The Islamic Resistance Movement “Hamas” has an infrastructure network, which provides medical care, food, and schooling to thousands of Palestinians hardly hit by poverty under the 36-year old Israeli occupation.

“There is a need to invest in projects that would be implemented immediately and would show the Palestinian public an immediate improvement in their situation,” the Israeli source told AFP.

Israel views this proposed European effort as a contribution to the peace process.

“This is one of the main areas for anyone wanting to contribute to the advancement of the political process,” he said.

Israel has been pressing Europe to follow the suit of the United States to enlist both the political and the military wings of Hamas as terrorist organizations.

“As long as there is no balance (in Europe’s approach to Israel and the Palestinians) it will be very difficult to participate in any activities in the security and political fields,” the Israeli official said.

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