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British parliamentary committee: Talk to Hamas

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LONDON (JTA) — An influential parliamentary committee is calling on Britain and the European Union to talk to moderates in Hamas in order to save the peace process.

In a report released Sunday, the British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee repeated its stand from two years ago, calling on the British government to engage with moderates within Hamas, the Islamist party ruling the Gaza Strip, saying that the current policy to shun Hamas has not been successful.

The European Union and the United States — two of the four members of the diplomatic Quartet along with Russia and the United Nations — have rejected contact with Hamas because of its refusal to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept existing interim peace deals. Both consider Hamas to be a terror organization.

However, the Foreign Affairs committee said, "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 added 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 cooperation from Hamas itself."

Committee chairman Mike Gapes told the BBC Sunday that just as Britain found a way to talk to moderate parliamentarians in the Lebanese group Hezbollah, it should talk to moderates in Hamas in order to get them to accept the Quartet’s demands.
 

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