Sweden Denies Trying to 'Reach Out to Hamas'

Netanyahu told Spanish FM 10 days ago that Sweden has attempted to engage Islamist group in dialogue.

Sweden on Monday flatly denied Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claims that Stockholm was "reaching out to Hamas."

The Swedish Foreign Ministry summoned Israel's ambassador for clarification on Monday, after Haaretz reported that Netanyahu had complained 10 days ago in a meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos about Sweden's alleged attempts to start a dialogue with Hamas.

Spain will replace Sweden as president of the European Union in January.

Netanyahu's allegation could worsen Israel's already tense relationship with the Scandinavian country following the publication there of an inflammatory news article accusing Israeli soldiers of harvesting the organs of Palestinians.

The Swedish government assured Israeli Ambassador Benny Dagan in response to the allegation that there was absolutely no contact between Stockholm and Hamas, in accordance with EU policy. It called any accusation to the contrary baseless.

The Swedish Foreign Ministria has thus instructed its ambassador in Tel Aviv to issue an official denial to all Israeli media to that effect, and has the done the same for Swedish papers.

Netanyahu did not specify through which sources he had learned of this. Moratinos, according to a source in the Prime Minister's Bureau, said he was not aware of such intentions, but said he would inquire about the subject with Swedish diplomats.

Though Hamas is defined as a terrorist organization by the EU, parliamentarians from European countries meet occasionally with Hamas representatives. According to Hamas' representative in Lebanon, Usamah Hamdan, MPs from Sweden, the Netherlands and three other West European nations consulted with Hamas representatives over the past months.