'Glitch' Foils Hamas Address in Britain

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LONDON - A technical problem prevented exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal from delivering an address by videoconferencing to British parliamentarians on Wednesday.

Some 25 MPs (members of parliament), who had gathered to hear Mashaal, dispersed when the video link failed.

MP Clare Short, who organized the event, said she would work to correct the problem so the Hamas leader could address British lawmakers at another time.

Britain's Foreign Office and Israel's Foreign Ministry were opposed to providing a platform for Hamas, which is listed as a terror organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel.

"Hamas is a terrorist organization. They fire rockets at innocent civilians. They put ordinary Palestinians in harm's way," read a statement by British Middle East minister Bill Rammell.

"We believe that to talk to [a representative of] Hamas directly at this time would simply undermine those Palestinians who are committed to peace," the statement read.

Israel's Foreign Ministry concurred.

"[It is] regrettably ironic that a man who cold never receive an entry visa to Britain because he is considered a terrorist would have the privilege of addressing MPs in parliament thanks to new technologies," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

Three European Union member nations, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, have each determined not to meet with Hamas representatives until they renounce terrorism and accept Israel's right to exist.

Last month, six British MPs who believe that Hamas must be included in negotiations with the Israelis met with Mashaal in Damascus.

"Anyone who genuinely wants to see peace in the Middle East ought to listen to what he [Mashaal] has to say and engage with. He is a powerful figure," MP Lynne Jones, one of the six who met with Mashaal said.

Some British lawmakers have advocated meeting with members of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group.

U.S. President Barak Obama also believes in opening dialogue with countries that support terrorism, notably Iran and Syria.

Source: The Associated Press

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