Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Meshal was to deliver an unprecedented videoconference address to a closed meeting of British MPs on Tuesday. The Foreign Ministry is fuming over the event, which goes ahead despite pressure on senior British parliamentarians.The event was arranged by MP Clare Short, who resigned from the Labor Party in 2006, several years after quitting the government over the war in Iraq. Short recently led a delegation of British MPs to meet with Meshal in Damascus.Short extended personal invitations about a week ago to dozens of MPs to attend the videoconference, to be broadcast to a meeting room in the MPs' office building. A large number of MPs are expected to attend.
The Israeli Embassy in London tried unsuccessfully to get pro-Israel MPs to exert pressure to cancel the event.Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor said Monday: "If Khaled Meshal would ask to enter the U.K., he would be denied, because the British government knows very well that Hamas is a terror organization. It is therefore a very serious matter when the British Parliament gets around this obstacle and opens its doors to a terror leader by means of a videoconference."In recent months, particularly after Operation Cast Lead, several MPs have met with Meshal in Damascus and with Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza.The British government does not meet officially with Hamas, as it is on the European Union's list of terror groups.U.K.-Israeli relations have been overshadowed recently by closer relations by British politicians and Hamas.This article was updated on April 21; details of Clare Short's resignation from the Labour Party have been corrected.
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