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Hamas legislator says denied French visa

Written by: Staff

GAZA, May 1 (Reuters) A Hamas legislator today said France had denied him a visa to visit as part of an unofficial Palestinian parliamentary delegation.

Salah al-Bardaweel said he would apply to other European countries to grant him a visa to join a delegation of four other Palestinian lawmakers from parties unconnected to Hamas who are visiting France, Norway, Spain, Germany, Italy and Austria.

''They gave no reasons for the rejection but it was clear I was denied a visa because I am a parliamentarian from Hamas,'' Bardaweel told Reuters.

There was no immediate comment from French authorities.

The European Union has joined the United States and Israel in demanding that Hamas, the Islamic militant group heading the new Palestinian government, recognise Israel, renounce violence and embrace peacemaking.

It has cut off all direct aid to the Palestinian Authority as well as contacts with Hamas officials until the movement, which calls for Israel's destruction, moderates its position.

Hamas, which has carried out nearly 60 suicide bombings against Israelis since the start of a Palestinian uprising, has largely abided by a ceasefire in place for more than a year.

But it has so far refused to heed the call to abandon policies that put it on the United States and European Union's list of terror organisations.

''The position of France was inspired by the pressure from the general position of the European Union and the United States,'' Bardaweel said.

''European countries must not judge us in absentia. They should sit and talk to us.'' Bardaweel said the delegation had been invited by non-governmental organisations, but also hoped to meet European lawmakers and officials.


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