British Lawmakers Push for Talks With Hamas
The British House of Commons' Foreign Affairs Committee issued a report Sunday urging the government to engage in talks with the Gaza-controlling Hamas terror organization, and called the current policy of shunning the group unsuccessful.
It also condemned Israel for the continuing growth of settlements and the anti-terror smuggling and security blockades around Gaza.
Britain has refused to talk to Hamas until it accepts the terms of the international Quartet comprised of the European Union, Russia, the UN and the U.S. - namely, Hamas must lay down its arms and recognize Israel's existence.
"We see few signs that the current policy of non-engagement with Hamas is achieving the Quartet's stated objectives," committee chairman Mike Gapes said, according to an AFP report. He said Britain should urgently engage with "moderate elements within Hamas" as it had with the political wing of Hizbullah in Lebanon earlier this year.
The British committee stated that any credible peace process between the Palestinian Authority and the Israelis will be hard to achieve without cooperation from Hamas. The wide-ranging report addressed Israel’s Operation Cast Lead launched earlier this year to quell Hamas rockets fired at citizens of southern Israel. “It is regrettable that UK-supplied military items were almost certainly used by Israel” in the Gaza conflict, the report stated.
The committee also criticized Hamas for its rocket attacks on Israel, but concluded that the Israeli military response was "disproportionate."
The committee called for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to declare whether it considered war crimes had been committed during the Israeli offensive on Gaza.