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Iran: Support for Hamas

Volume 738: debated on Tuesday 24 October 2023

3. Whether he has received reports on the potential role of Iran in providing financial and other support for Hamas for terrorist attacks on Israel. (906658)

8. Whether he has received reports on the potential involvement of Iran in providing support for Hamas for terror attacks on Israel. (906664)

Hamas is responsible for these appalling terrorist attacks. We know that Iran has been a long-term funder and supporter of Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Iran’s support for these militant groups has a destabilising impact on regional and international security, and we remain ever watchful of its actions.

I am grateful to the Foreign Secretary for that answer. Iran’s fingerprints are all over Hamas’s brutal massacre in Israel. Iran’s blatant arming, funding—worth $100 million a year—and training of terror groups around the region is no secret. Hamas’s leaders have even publicly lavished praise on Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for their support. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we must be absolutely clear about the threat posed by Iran abroad and at home, and that now is the time for a policy reset?

I completely agree with my hon. Friend’s assessment of Iran’s malign influence. The Government and the FCDO are well aware of this, and I can assure him that we have been clear-eyed throughout the work we do with regard to Iran and its influence in the region. We will remain ever watchful. I am sure that no reset is required, because we are very conscious of Iran’s impact on the region.

What diplomatic efforts are His Majesty’s Government taking to protect and, indeed, enhance the Abraham accords in the light of the fact that the Iranian regime is clearly seeking to engender discord and, indeed, conflict in the middle east?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that the Abraham accords have been a force for good. We need to protect them and ideally enhance them. Anything that sees greater co-operation between Israel and the Arab world has to be a step in the right direction when it comes to the creation of a sustainable two-state solution. I can assure him that we remain focused on that outcome.

This Government have rightly imposed sanctions on those states and organisations that support terrorism. Can the Secretary of State therefore clarify that if it is found, following an independent investigation, that Israel has also broken international law and committed war crimes in Gaza, his Government will consider the introduction of appropriate sanctions?

The hon. Gentleman invites me to speculate about our future response to future events. At the moment, I am dealing with events in the here and now. I am trying to prevent loss of life. I am in constant conversations with the leadership in the region to try to prevent further Israeli and Palestinian loss of life.

Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting families whose loved ones have been taken hostage. They came here to share their testimony, which was deeply moving. They raised the fact that Iran is very much behind this, so why have we yet to proscribe the IRGC? It was time a year ago, so it is surely time now. What is the excuse for waiting?

I have a huge amount of sympathy for the plight of the families who have either lost loved ones or have loved ones who are still held hostage in Gaza. I will be meeting families who have members held hostage later.

As I have said regularly, we are well aware of Iran’s influence. Any decision about proscription will be a cross-Government decision. The advantages and disadvantages of proscribing will always be at the heart of any decision-making process, but as the hon. Lady knows, we do not comment on future sanctions or proscription designations.

Following on from the question of the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Layla Moran), I emphasise that Labour has been calling on the Government for many months to proscribe the IRGC. Evidence is emerging of Iranian involvement in the Hamas terrorist attack in Israel. We also understand that the United States has called on the United Kingdom to follow its example. I therefore press the Foreign Secretary: when will the Government act, by using either existing terrorism legislation or a new process of proscription directed at the IRGC?

I remind the House that the IRGC—as well as certain individuals who are members of it—is sanctioned in its entirety. As I said in response to the question of the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Layla Moran), no international measure comes without cost. There are advantages and disadvantages to proscription, which fundamentally would mean that we could have no direct diplomatic relations with Iran. As I have said, we always take those issues seriously, and any decision will be made cross-Government, but we do not speculate on future sanctions or proscription designations.