Hamas (Turkish Support)

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 20 January 2015.

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Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering 11:30, 20 January 2015

What assessment he has made of the extent to which the Turkish Government provide support to Hamas in its conflict with Israel.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

We are aware of reports that Turkey maintains a dialogue with Hamas. We call on those in the region with influence over Hamas to press them to end the armed violence and to support reconciliation and peace talks with Israel.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

With Khaled Meshal, the exiled Hamas leader, reportedly expelled from Qatar to safe haven in Turkey, will the Minister insist that the Turkish Government, as a NATO ally, renounce any affiliation to, and support for, this internationally recognised terrorist organisation?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

I had an opportunity to meet President Erdogan just before Christmas. We raised the issue of what more Turkey could do to assist the peace process, and it is very much on board. I am not aware of information that Khaled Meshal has left Qatar, although I have seen the media reports as well, but wherever he is, it needs to be understood that Hamas must play a role in working with the Palestinian authorities to move the peace process forward.

Photo of Louise Ellman Louise Ellman Chair, Transport Committee, Chair, Transport Committee

Turkey supports Hamas, at a time when it is being reported that Hamas is building more rockets that will be able to go further into Israel, and is starting to rebuild the terror tunnels. What action is being taken to stop Hamas’s preparations for a new war of aggression against Israel?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The hon. Lady is right to speak of concern about what is being done by the military wing of Hamas, because it is undermining what we want to do in moving the peace process forward. We need countries such as Turkey and Qatar to join in, to influence Hamas, and to say that it needs to participate with the Palestinian authorities in order to allow Gaza itself to move forward. They could start by undoing the 1988 charter which states that that they want to destroy Israel.

Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Conservative, Reigate

Will the Minister continue to address—by himself, and with his officials—the whole nature of the wider political Islamic movement of which Hamas is part, so that we can begin to disinter part of the Palestinian national struggle from Hamas’s role as part of the Muslim Brotherhood?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

My hon. Friend speaks very wisely on these matters, and I have travelled to the region with him. We are working extremely hard, not only with the Palestinian authorities but throughout the region, to bring the parties together, although the process is currently on hold because of the Israeli elections.

Photo of Ian Austin Ian Austin Labour, Dudley North

My hon. Friend Mrs Ellman was right to mention reports that Hamas is developing new rockets instead of contributing to a peace process, and building more tunnels instead of building the homes and businesses that people in Gaza need. What more can our Government do to contribute to the reconstruction and demilitarisation of Gaza?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The Department for International Development is contributing an awful lot of funds, and we participated in—indeed, I attended—the donors’ conference in Cairo. However, the hon. Gentleman is right to point out that Hamas is having a disruptive effect on the process. I have visited Shujaiyya in Gaza, and I have seen the destruction that has resulted not just from the conflict in the summer, but from previous conflicts as well. The cement is starting to move in following the conference, and we do not want it to be used to build more tunnels.