British MEPs meet Hamas

By Jonathan Kalmus and Marcus Dysch, February 19, 2009

British lawmakers have met Hamas officials during a visit to Gaza.

Members of the European Parliament Palestine delegation travelled to Rafah last Thursday and Friday.

Chris Davies MEP said: “We asked for their reaction to the action last month and discussed their views on Palestinian re-unity and the possibility for a unity government. I can’t say we got very far.”

On Sunday, six MPs from the Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group inspected Gazan sites damaged during the conflict.

The talks came as £1 million of aid left Britain for Gaza on a convoy, part of which carries the name of a Manchester Jewish Communist.

The Phil Kaiserman Column left Manchester on Friday and joined more than 100 vehicles leaving from Hyde Park in London the following day.

During the 1930s, Mr Kaiserman, now 86, campaigned for the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War.

His daughter, Linda Clair, is chair of Manchester’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign. She said she was proud of her father’s involvement and that he was following a “true radical Jewish tradition”.

In a separate incident on Friday night, counter-terrorism police arrested nine men who were travelling from Lancashire to join the convoy.

Two vans and an ambulance laden with aid were seized by officers, but were later released, together with six men who were not charged.

Three men remained in custody until Thursday under anti-terrorism laws, and five houses in Burnley were searched. Lancashire Police said the arrests were part of an ongoing intelligence-led operation.

The convoy, organised nationally by Respect MP George Galloway and umbrella body Viva Palestina, will take medicines, clothes, toys, fire engines and a boat to Gaza.

Mr Galloway, who will join the convoy at various points, said an “intifada” was sweeping Britain. “It is a massive and peaceful movement in support of the beleaguered population of Gaza and Palestine.”

Last updated: 10:20am, February 19 2009