Delivered in Plenary - 1st February 2006
I had the deepest misgivings about allowing an unreformed Hamas to run candidates for the Palestinian elections. Perhaps the calculation of Mr Bush and others was that Hamas would not win, or that it would significantly modify its rhetoric and policies if brought into the electoral process. I beg to differ.
Hamas remains a terrorist organisation with links to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah. It is committed to the extermination of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic state with Jerusalem as its capital. Indeed, its charter suggests it is committed to global Jihad, including using suicide bombers and establishing a theocracy and an Islamic caliphate everywhere. Clearly, if it held these views anywhere in an EU Member State, it would have been banned as a political party.
I have always criticised the rampant corruption under Chairman Arafat and tried to investigate this in the last Parliament, but regrettably my working group findings were never debated in plenary. We now see a massive protest vote by ordinary Palestinians. Nevertheless, it is clear that an organisation banned as a terrorist organisation, such as Hamas, cannot be a legitimate interlocutor for the EU, nor receive a penny of our taxpayers’ money until it forswears violence and recognises the state of Israel. I have always supported the security fence on the basis that it has saved human lives from the evil of suicide bombers. It has, regrettably, truncated communities, but it does not constitute the final border of a future Palestinian state.
Nevertheless, a Hamas victory will make a land-for-peace deal much more difficult to realise. Also, the final settlement of the East Jerusalem question, as well as the right of return questions, will be almost impossible with Hamas in government for the Palestinian Authority.