UK ban on Hamas will have ‘terrible chilling effect’, warns former minister

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A ban on the Palestinian group Hamas will have a “terrible chilling effect” in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, a Conservative former minister has said.

Reigate MP Crispin Blunt reassured MPs in the Commons that as “the gay chair of the All-Party Humanist Group”, he did not support Hamas.

But he said he had taken the “trouble” to try and understand political Islam and did not think the measure would “draw away violence”.

He said: “My own personal position is that the two-state solution is long gone. That in the end, the only way this is going to be resolved is actually by the people coming together and us enabling that to happen, helping it to happen and I fear that this measure today does precisely the opposite.”

On the Government’s proposal, he added: “It is going to have a terrible chilling effect on putting anything into Gaza because Gaza is administered by the organisation we are about to proscribe.”

The Conservative MP also suggested that Hamas had “under international law, a legal right to resist”.

He said: “Whilst we have already taken a position on what is plainly the stupid, illegitimate, immoral, mortaring of people where you can’t tell where the targets are simply by flying weapons over the wall because you don’t have the capacity to engage in that targeting of what would be legitimate targets under international law as resistance.

Conservative MP Mark Harper asked Mr Blunt for clarification
Conservative MP Mark Harper asked Mr Blunt for clarification (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“Of course, that’s the definition, those acts are illegitimate, and that’s why they have been proscribed but we need to be careful here because people do have a right to resist.”

Conservative MP Mark Harper (Forest of Dean) asked Mr Blunt for clarification, as “he seemed to be saying the only problem with them (the Hamas attacks) is that they were more accurately targeted to kill certain Israelis and that they indiscriminately killed other Israelis … if they targeted the weapons more accurately, that would sort of be OK”.

Mr Harper said that if he had understood Mr Blunt correctly, that would be an “extraordinary” and “offensive” thing to say.

Mr Blunt replied that “you have under international law a legal right to resist”.

But he noted that not only “is the use of those weapons unlawful because they are untargeted and they are indiscriminate, it is also fantastically stupid” as they support the Israelis’ argument about “the threat they are facing from the Palestinian people”.

He went on: “I deplore violence of the Palestinians, of any kind, because they are going to get smashed if they try to resist using international law.

“It is completely the wrong thing to do and that’s why I want to work to give Palestinians assistance in finding a route to justice through using the law, and using the moral and legal authority that the Palestinian position has, because violence is a road to nowhere.”

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