[QODLink]
Europe
UK MPs urge talks with Hamas
Parliamentary committee says shunning Hamas is showing little sign of success.
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2009 00:19 GMT
Brown's government has said it is open to talks with  Hezbollah, but not with Hamas [Reuters]

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

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, that is 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."

'Ongoing risk'

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 said.

Herb Keinon, the diplomatic correspondent for the Jersualem Post newspaper, told Al Jazeera that the even if Britain did engage with Hamas it was unlikely to change Israel's position.

"Israel's position has been consistent on this issue for a number of years," he said.

"If Hamas accepts the three preconditions: If they recognise Israel, the they foreswear terrorism, if they recognise the previous agreements, there is something to talk about. If they don't do that then Israel won't talk with them." 

Incentives

The committee's report also said that the MPs were concerned that the Quartet was failing to provide Hamas with greater incentives to change its position.

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

"They [Hamas] are cornered in Gaza, Israel to one side, the sea behind them, and Egypt is in complete control of the border"

Zaki Chehab,
author of Inside Hamas

Zaki Chehab, the author of Inside Hamas and editor of Al Hayat newspaper, said that Hamas needed the West to enter into dialogue with the movement.

"They are cornered in Gaza, Israel to one side, the sea behind them, and Egypt is in complete control of the border," he said.

"At the end of the day Hamas want to see the outside world talking to them, but the problem here is not Hamas accepting to talk, it is what the West is going to offer Hamas."

In March, the British government changed its policy 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.

The committee said that "the government should set out the relevant differences between the cases of Hezbollah and Hamas that lead it to conclude that engagement with moderate elements within Hamas is not currently worth attempting".

The British foreign ministry said it would "consider carefully" the recommendations in the report.

It said that the government was "making progress on the peace process, which remains a high priority for the Government, and we shall continue to work hard to bring about a just and lasting peace.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.