UK terror ban of Hamas will have 'terrible, chilling effect': Tory ex-minister

UK terror ban of Hamas will have 'terrible, chilling effect': Tory ex-minister
3 min read
25 November, 2021
Crispin Blunt was participating in a debate in Britain's House of Commons about designating Hamas as a proscribed terror group.
Crispin Blunt said that the move will stop aid reaching Gaza [Getty]

A former UK government minister has said that the decision to proscribe Hamas as a terror organisation will create a "terrible, chilling effect".

Foreign Affairs Select Committee leader Crispin Blunt made the remarks on Wednesday during a parliamentary debate, in which he raised concerns about how aid funds will now reach Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas.

"United Nations Relief and Works Agency funding from the United Kingdom is going from £70 million (US$93 million) to £20 million ($26 million), which puts a huge responsibility on civil society to try to make up the difference because of the desperate, desperate situation in Gaza," Blunt said.

"What will the motion do? It will have a terrible, chilling effect on putting anything into Gaza, because Gaza is administered by the organisation that we are about to proscribe," the former minister added.

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Blunt said he had "taken the trouble to try to understand political Islam", revealing his worry banning Hamas would fail to "draw them away from violence".

He also expressed his belief the two-state solution is finished, and that Israelis and Palestinians will have to "come together, with us enabling and helping that to happen".

"I fear that the order does precisely the opposite," he added.

The MP criticised Israel for being "in gross breach of the fourth Geneva convention ever since the occupation of the [Palestinian] territories in 1967", and asked what steps Britain is going to do regarding settlement expansion.

"This is building the two-state solution out of existence," he said.

Blunt, who represents the Reigate constituency in the UK parliament, also appeared to criticise Hamas rocket fire into Israel.

"We have already taken a position on what is plainly the stupid, illegitimate and immoral mortaring of people where you cannot tell where the targets are, simply flying weapons over the wall. Because you do not have the capacity to engage in [the] targeting of what would be legitimate targets under international law as resistance.

"Of course those acts are illegitimate. That is why they have been proscribed."

Fellow Tory Mark Harper asked Blunt whether he was suggesting more precise weaponry "would be sort of okay", saying, he would "find that an offensive and extraordinary thing to say".

Blunt responded: "Under international law, you have a legal right to resist.

"Not only is the use of those weapons unlawful because they are untargeted and indiscriminate; it is also fantastically stupid because it gives the Israelis' argument about the threat they face from the Palestinian people its raison d'être.

"I deplore violence of any kind from the Palestinians because they are going to get smashed if they try to resist under international law. It is completely the wrong thing to do."

The former minister said he wishes to help Palestinians get justice "using the law and the moral and legal authority that the Palestinian position has".

While Hamas' military branch, the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, has long been banned as a terror group in Britain, its political wing has remained legal.

The change in law makes any display of support for Hamas, including arranging to meet its members, flying its flag or wearing clothing displaying its slogans punishable by a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.