Middle East

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:44 pm on 7th June 2006.

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Photo of Geoff Hoon Geoff Hoon Minister of State (Europe), Foreign & Commonwealth Office 3:44 pm, 7th June 2006

I am not entirely sure how to respond to that. [Laughter.] Unfortunately, I am not one of those people.

The British government have consistently made it clear that Hamas came to power as a result of free and fair elections and that, as a consequence, it has a democratic mandate. However, those who take part in the democratic process must play by the rules of democracy. Democracy is about more than elections: it is about assuming the responsibilities of government. We expect the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority to assume their prime responsibility to the Palestinian people by working actively towards a lasting peace with the state of Israel. Peace remains indispensable for the creation of the vibrant, fully functioning Palestine that we all want to help to develop.

The way towards that is set out in the road map, endorsed in 2003 by both the Israeli and Palestinian Governments of the day. It sets out clear steps to be taken by both sides and the international community, culminating in the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian state, living side by side with Israel in peace and security. We and our international partners are profoundly attached to that vision, and we regard it as the best possible means of achieving the two-state solution.

However, we cannot advance the agenda for peace—the road map—as long as one party refuses to recognise the other. It is essential that the Hamas-led Government commit themselves to non-violence, recognise Israel, and accept previous agreements and obligations, including the road map. Those are the principles set out by the Quartet on 30 January, and endorsed by Palestinian President Abbas and most of the international community. We are firmly committed to them. We are asking nothing more than we asked of the previous Palestinian Government, but so far Hamas has not signalled a readiness to accept the principles.

We naturally welcome the process of national dialogue launched by President Abbas on 25 May. We are encouraged by the President's clear desire to establish himself as the international representative of the Palestinian people, and we recognise him as such. I sincerely hope the outcome of the national dialogue is positive for the Palestinians, and positive for the peace process. The UK is certainly eager for Israel and the Palestinians to re-engage with the peace process as soon as possible.

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Colonel Rainborough
Posted on 9 Jun 2006 2:05 pm (Report this annotation)

"Democracy is about more than elections: it is about assuming the responsibilities of government." So declares the hypocrite Geoff Hoon, who voted to invade Iraq and thereby recklessly disregarded warnings of reprisals such as the 7/7 London bombings that struck directly at the safety and security of the British people which it is among the prime "responsibilities of government" to safeguard.