Israel has accused a Birmingham MP of undermining the Middle East peace process by inviting the political leader of Hamas to address a meeting in Parliament.
Khaled Mashaal is due to address MPs and peers by video link from Damascus at the event organised by former Labour Cabinet minister Clare Short (Lab, Ladywood) and Liberal Democrat peer Lord Alderdice.
They say that dialogue with Hamas – which is regarded as a terrorist organisation by the UK, the US and the EU – is crucial if a solution is to be found to the Palestinian crisis.
But the Israeli Ambassador accused those behind the event of delivering a “slap in the face” to moderate Palestinians seeking a peaceful
And Tories have complained to Commons Speaker Michael Martin about the use of Westminster facilities to engage with the head of Hamas.
Ambassador Ron Prosor said: “Hamas’s charter states categorically that: ‘There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad’.
“One can only presume that those who invite terrorists to speak at Westminster either share this view or utterly fail to comprehend its implications.
“Clare Short and Lord Alderdice offer no attempt to persuade Hamas to change its policies of missiles and murder.
“Instead, they attempt to sanitise, legitimise and reward an organisation and ideology that remains committed to violence, bloodshed and the
destruction of a sovereign state.
“The invitation of Mashaal is a slap in the face to Palestinian leaders such as Mahmoud Abbas, who, despite a history of terrorism and violence, abandoned terror in favour of negotiations.”
A Conservative Party spokesman said: “Hamas is a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK.
“There is therefore no way that Mr Mashaal, who is probably the foremost proponent of the terrorist tactics that Hamas has used against Israel for years, would be allowed to address a meeting in Parliament in person.
“David Lidington, shadow minister for the Middle East, has written to the Speaker to draw the planned meeting to his attention and raise the concerns of the Conservative Party about the message it sends.”
The meeting, which is not open to the public, is due to take place in a room in Portcullis House.
A spokeswoman for the Commons authorities said the meeting would go ahead as it was based on a video link not a personal appearance, saying that “freedom of speech” issues were involved.