U.K. MPs demand Mideast crisis recall

Aug. 9, 2006 at 12:55 PM
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LONDON, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- British parliamentarians angered by the government's Lebanon policy Wednesday demanded a recall of Parliament to debate the crisis.

Up to 100 members of Parliament, the majority of them Labor, have signed a letter arguing that they must have a chance to discuss the government's strategy for resolving the conflict during the summer recess.

The move reflects a growing unease within Parliament at the stance of Prime Minister Tony Blair on the conflict. He has been widely criticized for taking a pro-Israeli approach to the conflict, particularly for failing to call for an immediate cease-fire or to condemn aspects of the Israeli offensive in Lebanon as disproportionate.

The campaign was organized by Jon Trickett, chairman of the Compass group of left-wing Labor MPs, along with former Labor ministers Clare Short, John Denham and Tony Lloyd.

Other signatories include Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Menzies Campbell and Scottish National Party Leader Alex Salmond.

Trickett told BBC Radio: "The point is that the nation is very concerned about the trouble in the Middle East -- there are people dying in front of us every day."

"We live in a 24/7 society and it's extraordinary that Parliament should be away for 11 weeks. I think people expect MPs to give a voice to their concerns."

Campbell said Parliament needed to be recalled as a "matter of urgency," adding: "The need for an immediate cease-fire is as pressing as ever."

But Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells said that while everyone was extremely concerned about the situation in Lebanon, he was not sure what a recall of Parliament would achieve.

Blair is currently on holiday in the Caribbean, but Howell insisted he was still "ringing everyone who is going to bring any influence on this."

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