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EU’s top diplomat says Israeli government ‘facilitated the development of Hamas’

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published February 27,2024

The European Union's top diplomat criticized Israel on Monday for facilitating the Palestinian group Hamas instead of working toward a viable two-state solution.

"I'm not saying he (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) wrote them a check, but he's facilitated the development of Hamas," said Josep Borrell, speaking at the Next Educación business school in Madrid.

"Israel has bet on the division of Palestinians, creating a force to oppose (the) Fatah (movement)," he said, saying Netanyahu has publicly stated this strategy.

"When there was a moment of prisoner exchange, the Israeli government released a founder of Hamas and the man who orchestrated the Oct. 7 attacks. But it never released the leaders of Fatah, who want a peaceful and negotiated solution," he said.

"This is the objective reality. Interpret it as you wish."

In 2011, the Israeli government struck a deal with Hamas to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1,027 prisoners.

Borrell also referred to his recent trip to the G20 foreign ministers meeting in Brazil. He said that there, "every single country" said the only "solution to guarantee peace and stability in the Middle East is the two-state solution."

However, he slammed Netanyahu's government for doing all that they could to block it for the last 30 years.

"The Israeli government says what it doesn't want. But it doesn't say what it wants. What's their solution besides a security guarantee? But do they want security solely based on military means? Frankly, I think there are better solutions," he said, pointing to the need for a Palestinian state.

Borrell also expressed the unprecedented nature of Israel's demands.

"Israel asks Palestine to guarantee its security. Fair enough. But Israel is the occupying force. This is the first time I heard of an occupier asking the occupied country for security guarantees. Usually it's the other way around," he said.

At the same time, Borrell acknowledged that Israel does need security guarantees in this situation.

"And Palestinians need to have the possibility to organize themselves politically in a territory and sign a peace agreement that's not just between Israel and Arab states," he added.

Borrell, 76, is a member of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party and has been serving as the EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy since December 2019.