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Tech woes stop Mashaal session with lawmakers

LONDON (JTA) —  A technical problem prevented Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal from taking part in a question-and-answer session with British lawmakers.

The 25 lawmakers who gathered to hear Mashaal left when the video link failed.

Claire Short, a former British minister of international development who organized Wednesday’s meeting during a visit to Damascus, said she would reschedule the event, according to reports. She drew criticism from the British government, the opposition and the Israeli government over the program.

Short, who resigned from the Blair government over the war in Iraq, has been a longtime critic of Israel.

The Damascus-based Mashaal is the head of Hamas’ political bureau and is considered to be the main decision-maker in the Islamic fundamentalist organization.

A spokeswoman for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that the members of parliament who plan to talk to Mashaal are doing so in a “private capacity,” adding that “there are no plans for any government contacts.”

“We do not believe it is productive to talk to Hamas directly,” said the spokeswoman, adding that “Hamas is a terrorist organization."
 

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