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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

British Report Says to Engage Hamas

APMembers of Hamas' Executive Force chanting with guns Sunday in Gaza City.
LONDON -- Britain's and the international community's refusal to speak to Palestinian group Hamas is doing more harm than good, a British parliamentary committee said Monday.

Pursuing a "West Bank first" policy -- where Britain and others deal with the West Bank, which is run by the secular Fatah group, and isolate the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip -- will jeopardize peace, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said in a report.

"The government should urgently consider ways of engaging politically with moderate elements within Hamas," the all-party group of lawmakers said.

It said former Prime Minister Tony Blair should personally engage with Hamas to help reconciliation in his new role as envoy for the Quartet of Middle East mediators -- the UN, the European Union, the United States and Russia.

The committee also criticized Britain's response to last year's war between Israel and Hezbollah. It said Blair's refusal to call for an immediate cease fire had done "significant damage to the U.K.'s reputation."

Hamas has been isolated because of its refusal to meet three criteria: recognition of Israel's right to exist, renunciation of violence and adherence to interim peace deals with Israel.

The parliamentary report also recommended that Britain press Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas into negotiations with Hamas to re-establish a national unity government across the Palestinian territories.