Labour MP Michael McCann calls for total Hamas ban


Britain should push for Hamas’s political wing to be proscribed as a terrorist organisation alongside its military arm, a Labour MP has argued.

Labour Friends of Israel vice-chair Michael McCann made the suggestion while leading a Westminster Hall debate on the UK’s contribution to preventing further conflict in Gaza on Wednesday.

The government should “assess the increasing evidence that Hamas’ political and military wings are contrapuntally linked,” he said, and ensure the European Union continues to list the group’s military arm as a terrorist group.

Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood did not respond to that point but said the government was “deeply concerned” about reports of Hamas’s rearming and tunnel-building efforts.

Mr Ellwood said Britain was lobbying Israel to loosen restrictions on goods transfers, fishing and movement of people in and out of Gaza. He called on the EU to assist with the opening of a marina in Gaza to boost trade.

Mr McCann said: “Hamas are investing their resources in re-arming, and now – ominously – they have almost regained their full military capability. Hamas are preparing for further attacks on Israel.”

Britain should also use the UN Security Council to push for sanctions on countries which attempt to transfer weapons to Hamas and other terror groups, he added.

The debate also considered the possibility for the international community to send inspectors to Gaza to oversee the destruction of rockets and other weaponry.

Labour’s Shadow Middle East Minister Gareth Thomas raised his party’s concerns about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. He urged the British government to deliver aid while working to stop Hamas’s military activities.

The debate, initiated by LFI, was intended to find common ground between supporters of both sides and outline ways Britain could help find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

But the 90-minute session was repeatedly broken up by MPs arguing over issues related to last summer’s conflict.

Liberal Democrat MP David Ward called for the government to impose sanctions on Israel.

Conservative MP Robert Halfon highlighted the use of human shields as an example of how “the people of Gaza have been oppressed by Hamas” since 2007. Andrew Percy said Hamas was the world’s second wealthiest terrorist group after Islamic State.

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