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Sunday, June 29, 2003

"Hamas issue confounds Mideast Peace Planners"

Subtitle on this one is "One wing of the militant group attacks Israelis, but others provide tens of thousands of Palestinians with health care and other social services"

Choice bits:

"The Palestinian Authority and some European governments contend that, given the right incentives, Hamas can be transformed from a guerrilla organization to a political one in the same way the Palestine Liberation Organization was when it renounced terrorism and recognized the state of Israel more than a decade ago. [excuse me? the PLO never renounced terrorism nor recognized Israel. these are Big Lies.]

'The Europeans have traditionally distinguished between the terrorist wing of Hamas and the political and social wings. We don´t lump them into one group like the Americans,' said a senior European diplomat.

Hamas differs from other militant groups, such as Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which also have tentatively agreed to suspend attacks on Israel. All have carried out suicide bombings and other attacks against Israel that have killed almost 800 Israelis during the 33-month uprising. But Hamas also puts heavy emphasis on its social welfare and educational programs.

In a controversial form of aid, Hamas provides funds to the families of so-called martyrs who have carried out suicide bombings. But with help from funds raised abroad, its welfare branches also dole out vast sums for the unemployed — in a society with about 70% unemployment.

'Cutting off Hamas social services and charitable donations would almost immediately lead to a major breakdown in basic services and welfare in the Palestinian Authority. The impact would be devastating,' said the European diplomat. "