The Conservative Party would refuse to talk with Hizbullah politicians should it return to power after Great Britain’s general elections, Shadow Security Minister Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
“Hizbullah is a terrorist movement, which is amply funded too. This is not a dying movement,” said Neville-Jones, who spoke with the Post on the sidelines of the 10th annual Herzliya Conference.
The current British Labor government has agreed since early 2009 to talk with some of the members of Hizbullah’s political branch because the group “has managed to insert itself into the political fabric of Lebanon.”
“We do not think that this is the right policy. We take the view that its gives legitimacy to movements that are prepared to use violence. There is no distinction between the political and military wings of Hizbullah. It is one movement,” she said.
“If you talk with the extremists, why bother to be moderate? It is a very fundamental point for us that the forces we need to promote are the forces of moderation.”
Given the battle that Britain is fighting at home to quell the rise of Muslim extremism, it is extremely important that the government has a consistent stand when it comes to terrorism, she said.
“You can’t do one thing abroad and another thing at home.”
Many of those convicted in Great Britain for terrorism-related activities were British citizens, she said.
Neville-Jones is also among those who believe that the government has to take a harsher stand against hate speech and verbal incitement to violence in schools and on the internet.
The British government shouldn’t wait until violence explodes to deal with the problem, she said. Rather, it has to clamp down on extremism when it is at the level of hate speech and incitement.
“What people say matters. These things lead to a culture of violence, which governments should pay attention to.”
She was confident that for the first time in more than 12 years, the Conservative Party would beat out Labor in the general elections which are due to be held sometime between now and June 3.
Earlier in the day, she told conference members that if the Conservative Party won the elections, “We will actively block the dissemination of extremist written material and speech. We will take down the Web sites that promote it. We will deny organizations that promote extremism political funding. We will monitor the charities. We will ensure that the Charity Commission which regulates the charities does not allow money to be transmitted through channels which ends up funding extremism violence and terrorism abroad.”
“Conservatives take the view that we need to deal with extremism,” she said.
Many Muslims in Britain are moderates who need help to properly defend their communities’ values, said Neville-Jones. “Their voices have been drowned out. It is going to be fellow Muslims that are going to deal with the radicals.”
More has to be done to integrate immigrants into British society, Neville-Jones added. Within Great Britain itself, she said, people have to have a better understanding of what it is to be British. They need to understand what their values are.
“What is it that we are asking people to integrate into? We need more conscious nation building,” she said.
Separately, in speaking with the Post
on the topic of Iran, she said she was hopeful that more stringent sanctions would finally sway its government not to pursue its nuclear program.
“The object of policy should be to prevent a nuclear Iran from arising. If you are saying to yourself ‘we are going to have to live with it,’ you are halfway to [defeat],” she said.