Labour MP praises Ha­mas

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY JESSICA ELGOT

A LABOUR MP has ex­pressed con­fi­dence in the “re-launched” and “mod­er­ate” Mus­lim Brother­hood in Egypt and praised Ha­mas leader Is­mail Haniyeh for re­nounc­ing vi­o­lence.

San­dra Os­borne, MP for Ayr Car­rick and Cum­nock, was one of the Bri­tish MPs who met Mr Haniyah dur­ing a re­cent visit to Gaza.

Twelve Bri­tish par­lia­men­tar­i­ans, in­clud­ing Par­lia­men­tary Labour Party chair Tony Lloyd and Lib­eral Demo­crat Par­lia­men­tary Party chair Lorely Burt, met Ha­mas of­fi­cials a fort­night ago.

Ms Os­borne posted a re­flec­tion on her trip on her web­site and on the Labour Friends of Pales­tine site, prais­ing Ha­mas lead­ers and women’s rights in Gaza.

At the be­gin­ning of her trip, in Cairo, she said: “We met the Mus­lim Brother­hood, an Is­lamic group which is re­launch­ing it­self as the Free­dom and Jus­tice Party. Their pres­i­dent ex­plained that the new party will not be theo­cratic though its rules will be based on the prin­ci­ples of Is­lam. It has be­come more mod­er­ate than in the past and has strong sup­port.”

The MP be­lieved Mr Haniyeh was “a pop­u­lar fig­ure, liv­ing mod­estly, lo­cally in Gaza. He has been piv­otal in tak­ing Ha­mas down a more mod­er­ate road lead­ing to a re­nun­ci­a­tion of vi­o­lence and keep­ing the more mil­i­tant fac­tions within Ha­mas un­der con­trol, while pro­mot­ing en­gage­ment with ri­val Fatah.”

Mr Haniyeh pre­sented MPs on the trip with em­broi­dered scarves, de­pict­ing a full map of Is­rael as a Pales­tinian state.

In Gaza, Ms Os­borne de­scribed the women she met as “ad­vanced in Gaza com­pared to other parts of the Arab world and very much re­minded me of Scot­tish women with a ‘no non­sense’ and ‘feisty’ spirit.”

Many, she said, “go to great lengths to se­cure ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties – flout­ing tra­di­tion on the way if needs be. They want to be treated as equals and play a full part in the po­lit­i­cal process, in­clud­ing rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.”

In fact, since Ha­mas came to power in 2007, women’s rights have been re­stricted, with fe­male lawyers forced to wear a hi­jab, and women for­bid­den from smok­ing a hookah, go­ing to male hair­dressers or rid­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle.

Labour Friends of Is­rael di­rec­tor Jen­nifer Ger­ber said: “Ha­mas is not the sort of regime that it should be ac­cept­able for a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a pro­gres­sive party to show any sol­i­dar­ity with.”

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