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British MPs visit Jerusalem Hamas politicians

Nov. 7, 2010 9:06 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 9, 2010 9:37 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Two British MPs visited two Palestinian lawmakers on Saturday who remain holed up in the Red Cross center in Jerusalem facing expulsion from the city by Israeli authorities.

MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Andrew Slaughter, both members of the Labour Party, met with Palestinian Legislative Council members Muhammad Totah and Ahmad Atoun in the Red Cross headquarters, along with members of the press and peace activist Lubna Masarwa.

The British officials said their visit was intended to express solidarity with the Palestinian people and rejection of Israel's violation of Palestinians' human rights.

The PLC members updated the two MPs on their situation and also condemned what they said was an "international silence" over Israel's violations of international law.

Totah and Atoun were elected to the PLC in 2006 as members of Hamas' Change and Reform list. Immediately following their election Israel ordered them to resign or have their Jerusalem residency revoked.

When they refused to step down, they were sentenced to prison terms, and upon their release, had their residency cards confiscated. Israel has ordered them to leave Jerusalem the city that has been their families' home for generations. Two other Hamas lawmakers, Muhammad Abu Tir and Khaled Abu Arafah, were also ordered to leave the city this year.

Totah and Atoun refuse to leave the city, and are remaining in the Red Cross compound in defiance. If they exit the compound they face immediate arrest and expulsion by Israeli authorities.

Asked about the MPs' visit, Fadi Adeeb, a spokesman for the British Consulate in Jerusalem said: "They [the MPs] came here own their own. They don't represent the government."

Britain, like the US, European Union, and Canada, regards Hamas as a terrorist organization and refuses official contact with the group.
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