British and U.S. diplomats must negotiate directly with Hamas, the Palestinian group, to bring peace to the Middle East, a cross-party committee of U.K. lawmakers said.
Publishing a report on the humanitarian and development situation in the occupied territories, the international development select committee said the international community should seize the opportunity of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas to bring the Palestinian group into the peace process.
The policy of seeking to isolate Hamas in Gaza has neither improved security nor caused Hamas to shift its position, and has contributed to increasing tensions between Hamas and its rival Fatah movement, the 11-member committee, which includes six lawmakers from the ruling Labour Party, said in a report released today.
The chair of the committee, Liberal Democrat Malcolm Bruce Bruce said that food, fuel and water were in short supply in Gaza, and the public health system was under severe pressure following the closure of borders. Though a six-month ceasefire was agreed between Hamas and Israel last month allowing food and aid through Gaza's borders, the committee found that the effect of Israel's blockades were still felt and the situation on the ground was far worse.
Bruce said: "Israel has obligations to ensure the health and welfare of the Palestinian population, which it has not met.
"We believe the situation was allowed to continue for too long, and that the Quartet did not exert sufficient pressure on Israel to open the crossings."
"Could there be a peace agreement with any credibility that doesn't involve Hamas? No,"' Bruce told reporters at a press conference in London. Excluding Hamas from peace talks, he said, is not real politics.
Hamas is a key player and isolating it from talks has been "self defeating", said Anthony Billingsley, a lecturer in international relations at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
"The atmospherics may change with a change of administration in Washington," Billingsley said. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama "has more potential to shake things up" and agree to talks if he enters the White House than Republican candidate John McCain.
Last Mod: 24 Temmuz 2008, 11:31