Youssef Ibrahim, of the Council of Foreign Relations, said on the Fox News Channel last night that there is no difference between Hamas and Al-Qaeda - except that Hamas enjoys more support in the Moslem world and especially in the PA. He said that Hamas must therefore be a partner for negotiations, and not forcibly disarmed. Ibrahim thus supports the minority French position in the European Union. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Migel Mauritinos, the EU's emissary to the Middle East, said that the EU must totally outlaw Hamas and cease funding it - but France has so far vetoed the move.
Similarly, France is attempting to thaw the political deep-freeze imposed on PLO leader Yasser Arafat by Israel and the US. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said this week that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's recent visit to Israel, during which he met only with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and boycotted Arafat, had "not satisfied the European position". Yesterday, Berlusconi responded by saying that French leaders "missed a good opportunity to shut up." Berlusconi's statement echoed that directed by Chirac at eastern European leaders for their staunch support of the US prior to the war in Iraq.