A UK parliamentary committee has called for dialogue with Hamas, as a UN report says poverty has reached an unprecedented high in the Gaza Strip.
Gaza's economy has been hit hard by an Israeli embargo tightened when the militant group took control last year...The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa, said 52% of Gaza households were living in poverty, and unemployment there had topped 45%.
The House of Commons International Development Committee said in a report on Gaza that the current truce between Hamas and Israel, agreed on 19 June, "offers the international community an opportunity to begin a dialogue with Hamas".
The aim of the talks should be to move the group towards accepting principles laid down by the international community and to repairing the rift between it and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party, it said...The senior Labour MP Ann Clwyd also backed the call for talks, telling the BBC it was "essential" that the international community engaged with Hamas.
"They comprise a majority of elected parliamentarians that the Palestinian people voted for - they have a legitimate standing and should be treated in that way," she said. In its report, the committee described the humanitarian situation in Gaza as "acute", saying food, fuel and water were in "short supply" and the public health system "under severe pressure".
It said Israel had failed to meet its obligations under international law to ensure the health and welfare of the Palestinian population.
The MPs also said they considered the scale of Israeli military attacks and border restrictions to be "collective punishment" of Gazans.
The Unrwa report, based on figures from the Palestinian Authority said that GDP across the whole Palestinian economy was more than 8% below 1999 levels.
Population growth had left GDP per capita more than a third below 1999 levels, it said....
note: these quotes are taken from the BBC article, "UK MPs call for talks with Hamas," visit http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/7523113.stm for the complete article.