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MPs debate Israel and Northern Ireland comparison

    Members of Parliament have cautioned against drawing comparisons between the situation in Israel and that of Northern Ireland before the Good Friday Agreement.

    During a debate on Israel in Westminster Hall, called by Labour MP John Woodcock, it was pointed out that the peace process in Northern Ireland went ahead "with the Provisional IRA still on active operations".

    Bob Stewart's point followed Mr Woodcock's statement that there could be no lasting peace in the region until Hamas abides by the Quartet principles to renounce violence, recognise Israel and accept previous diplomatic agreements.

    Mr Woodcock, chair of Labour Friends of Israel, said: "There cannot be negotiation when one side at the table seeks to wipe the other off the map."

    Mr Stewart, Conservative MP for Beckenham, responded: "The peace process [in Northern Ireland] went ahead…so perhaps one of those principles is not sacrosanct."

    But Nigel Dodds, Belfast North MP, pointed out that Sinn Fein was only admitted to peace talks after it signed up to the Mitchell principles. "It was clear that it could not come to the table while still avowing terrorism," he said.

    "The main difference between the two peace processes is that, to the best of my knowledge, Sinn Fein at no time called for the destruction of Northern Ireland," added Ilford North MP Lee Scott.

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