Hamas denies Israeli report on contact with Olmert

Hamas denies Israeli report on contact with Olmert

Movement official derides Channel 10 piece as ‘Zionist fabrication’

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Hamas denied an Israeli report that its political leader in exile, Khaled Mashaal, maintained a secret communication channel with former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert.

Israel’s Channel 10 reported Wednesday that Olmert established the channel in 2006, using an anonymous European middleman in Damascus and an Israeli political adviser to President Shimon Peres.

But on Thursday, Hamas official Izat Rishq dismissed the report as an Israeli fabrication.

“The report of Israel’s Channel 10 news… is nothing but completely invented lies, foolish fabrications woven by the imagination and dreams of Zionists,” he said, adding that the report was created to “tarnish the image of Hamas and its leader.”

Hamas reacted differently, however, to reports of secret contacts with five European Union states.

Ahmad Youssef, a former adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah, said that his movement was trying to “change the European mind” about Hamas and have itself removed from the list of terrorist organizations.

The EU and United States officially classify Hamas as a terror organization and ban diplomatic contact with it.

Youssef said the move could only be made through consensus, but countries such as Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic opposed the move.

He would not name the European countries Hamas was in touch with, but said they regretted their past policy of shunning the Islamic movement.

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