The Palestinian militant group Hamas says European Union (EU) diplomats have recently held talks with some of its members, in an apparent shift in EU policy.
Thursday's disclosure brought immediate protests and sharp criticism from Israel, which has been targeted in scores deadly attacks by the militant group in recent years. An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said the international community should be engaging moderate Palestinians, rather than extremists like Hamas.
There was no immediate comment from the 25-nation European Union, which, like the United States, has labeled Hamas a terrorist organization.
Analysts say the recent emergence of Hamas as a political force in the Palestinian territories poses a dilemma for Israel, the United States and the EU. Both Israel and western governments have pledged aid to Palestinian towns, some of which are now governed by Hamas mayors.
Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.