Sunday, 26 July 2009


UK MPs urge talks with Hamas

Brown's government says it is open to talks with
but not with Hamas


British legislators have urged the government to talk to
moderates within Hamas, saying the West's policy of
shunning the Palestinian group was showing little sign of

Russia is the only member of the Quartet of Middle East
peace brokers, which also comprises the United States, the
United Nations and the European Union, talking to Hamas.

The British parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee said in
a report on Sunday it stood by a recommendation it first
made two years ago that the government should engage
politically with moderate elements within Hamas, which
rules the Gaza Strip.

"We conclude that there continue to be few signs that the
current policy of non-engagement is achieving the Quartet's
stated objectives," the committee said.

"We further conclude that the credible peace process for
which the Quartet hopes, as part of its strategy for
undercutting Hamas, is likely to be difficult to achieve
without greater co-operation from Hamas itself."


The committee, made up of MPs from all the main political
parties, said it was dismayed that, six months after the
end of fighting in Gaza, there was still no ceasefire
agreement between Israel and Hamas.

There had been little change to several issues that
contributed to the conflict, it said.

"We conclude that this situation makes for an ongoing risk
of insecurity and a renewed escalation of violence," it

The committee said it was concerned the Quartet was failing
to provide Hamas with greater incentives to change its

It said Britain should talk to Hamas moderates as a way of
encouraging the group to meet the Quartet principles.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government changed policy in
March by saying it was open to talks with the political
wing of Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah, but it remains
opposed to talking to Hamas.

Israel invaded Gaza on December 27, 2008 and fighting
continued until January 18, 2009, killing more than 1,000

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