No to Hamas talks

No to Hamas talks
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A Foreign Affairs Committee report released on Monday condemned the economic boycott and isolation of the terror group and said moderate elements within the party should be involved in negotiations.

The report, Global Security: The Middle East, released on Monday, said: “Given the failure of the boycott to deliver results, the government should urgently consider ways of engaging politically with moderate elements within Hamas as a way of encouraging it to meet the three Quartet principles.”

The committee of MPs also criticised the government for its delay in calling for a ceasefire in last summer’s Lebanon war. And while it backed former Prime Minister Tony Blair as the Quartet’s Middle East envoy, it described the road map to peace as “an irrelevance,” adding that its ideas should still be adhered to.

Labour MP Mike Gapes, chair of the committee, told the Jewish News: “Although we welcome the renewed dialogue in the region, you cannot have a comprehensive agreement without taking account of Gaza.”

However, politicians and activists said Hamas should first accept the Quartet’s principles of renouncing terror, recognising Israel’s right to exist and acceptance of previous peace agreements.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mark Regev, said more progress has been made without Hamas, “There has been lot of positive momentum recently. We have seen renewed dialogue, security and economic cooperation. Bringing Hamas back doesn’t fit with the current situation.

“The government of the Palestinian Authority is the internationally recognised government. Hamas are excluding themselves by not accepting Israel and not denouncing terror.”

Andrew Dismore, a Labour Friends of Israel committee member, told the Jewish News, “It’s complete nonsense, I don’t see much point in talking to Hamas when they don’t accept the Quartet’s principles.”

Stuart Polak, Director of Conservative Friends of Israel, said: “The Committee welcomed Hamas’s help in securing the timely release of Alan Johnston – yet Gilad Shalit has been held in Gaza for over one year and rockets continue to land in Israel.”

A Foreign Office spokesperson added, “It is not unreasonable to expect that engagement be based on a renunciation of violence, a recognition of the State of Israel and an adherence to previously accepted agreements; no more than was demanded of the PLO in the 1990s as the essential basis for progress.”
Meanwhile the British government has been asked to explain why arms sales to Israel have dropped in recent years. A report from the Quadrapartite Commission revealed that arms exports to Israel were £14.5 million last year compared to £22.5 million in 2006. The parliamentary committee said the Foreign Office has blocked 14 applications for military exports this year giving reasons of “human rights” and “regional peace, security and stability.”

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