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Britain May Cut Arms to Israel; Hamas to Address Lords

British winds are blowing cool on Israel: arms export may be cut, Hamas is addressing House of Lords and a theater banned an IDF choir.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 4/21/2009, 11:42 PM / Last Update: 4/22/2009, 12:24 AM

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Britain is warming up to Hamas and blowing chilly winds towards Israel. Its government is considering a ban on arms exports to the Jewish state after legislators had demanded that British weapons parts not be used against Arab terrorists.

Meanwhile, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal is to address the House of Lords via video despite objections by the British government. In a separate development, the Bloomsbury theatre acceded to demands from pro-Arab groups that it cancel an appearance by an IDF choir scheduled for Israeli Independence Day celebrations next week.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband told Parliament Tuesday that it will review weapons export licenses "in light of recent events in Gaza,” meaning the Operation Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign three months ago.

The statement came a day before Hamas’s top leader Khaled Mashaal was to address members of the House of Lords and Members of Parliament via video from Damascus. The address comes shortly after four British parliamentarians, led by British Labor party member Roger Godsiff, met with Mashaal in Damascus.

Independent MP Clare Short invited dozens of colleagues to attend a video conference in a Parliament office despite objections by both the British Foreign Office and Israeli ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor. He pointed out that the Hamas charter calls for jihad, but “Clare Short and Lord Alderdice offer no attempt to persuade Hamas to change its policies of missiles and murder.”

The Foreign office comments, “We are aware that some MPs are planning to talk to members of Hamas in a private capacity on Wednesday…. Hamas is a terrorist organization. We believe that to talk to Hamas directly at this time would simply undermine those Palestinians who are committed to peace.”

The European Union officially has defined Hamas as a terrorist organization, but Hamas has succeeded in breaking the boycott, working through constant international pressure on a country-by-country basis.

Short has promoted the idea that Hamas must be included in a Middle East peace agreement. She previously has been harshly critical of Israel, writing two years ago that Israel carried out a "bloody, brutal and systematic annexation of land, destruction of homes and the deliberate creation of an apartheid system."