Last Friday, Britain broke ranks with Western policy by announcing it would hold talks with Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite terrorist group. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband argues Hezbollah must be engaged since its members are represented in the Lebanese government, and suggests dialogue could prompt the Islamist group to renounce violence.
Britain’s fissure in Western policy towards Hezbollah could encourage other E.U. states to engage with other Islamist terrorist groups, including Hamas. Rory Miller noted in the fall 2007 issue of inFOCUS that despite official E.U. pledges to shun Hamas, many European leaders believe Hamas is a legitimate group which must be engaged.
Now that Britain has decided to reach out towards Hezbollah, it will be equally difficult for other members of the E.U. to resist following Britain’s lead. For its part, the U.S. has insisted it will not make contact with Hezbollah, but low-level talks with Hamas may yet take place.