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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Tony Blair wants to bring Hamas into the 'peace process'

Tony Blair wants to bring his sister-in-law's Hamas friends into the 'peace process.' But Hamas apparently can't make up its collective mind whether that is good or bad for them.
In an interview with Ginny Dougary in the Saturday Magazine, Mr Blair says that the strategy of “pushing Gaza aside” and trying to create a Palestinian state on the West Bank “was never going to work and will never work”. He hints in references to how peace was eventually achieved in Northern Ireland that the time may be approaching to talk to Hamas ... “My basic predisposition is that in a situation like this you talk to everybody.”

He suggests that the policy was behind last month's ferocious reopening of hostilities between Israel and Hamas in Gaza that were believed to have left more than 1,000 people dead.

Mr Blair, speaking after talks with the new US envoy George Mitchell, says that Gaza will not be pushed aside because there are 1.25 million people there who want a Palestinian state.
Wrong, Tony. There are 1.25 million people there who want to destroy the Jewish state.
Asked whether he had changed his view about talking to Hamas since the Palestinian elections, Mr Blair replies that his “basic predisposition is that in a situation like this you talk to everybody”.

However, he repeated the Quartet position that there can be no talks, official or unofficial, with Hamas until they renounce violence and recognise Israel.

Mr Blair then says that there is a distinction between the difficulty of negotiating with Hamas as part of a peace process if they would not accept one of the states in the two-state solution, and “talking to Hamas as the de facto power in Gaza”.

He declines to answer whether he has talked to Hamas unofficially, although his staff later insists that he has not, and that all contacts have been via Egyptian diplomats. Under intense questioning later he replies: “I do think it is important that we find a way of bringing Hamas into this process, but it can only be done if Hamas are prepared to do it on the right terms.”

Pressed to go further Mr Blair says that he has to be careful how he expresses things because “if you do this in the wrong way it can destabilise the very people in Palestine who have been working all through for the moderate cause”.

He added: “We do have to find a way of making sure that the choice is put before Hamas and the people of Gaza in a clear, understandable, unambiguous way, for them to choose their future. You have to find a way of communicating that choice to them in their terms. Now exactly what way you choose at the moment, that is an open question.”
And until now it wasn't put to them in a "clear, understandable, unambiguous way? Of course it was. But Hamas are not fools and they've been waiting for dhimmis like Tony Blair to break down and say that they can get what they want without agreeing to the conditions stated by the 'international community' since Hamas won the elections in 2006.

Having been handed a gift on a silver platter, Hamas is having difficulty deciding what to do with it.
Dr. Yusef Rizkeh, former information minister in the Hamas government and a top adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, said that his movement sees Blair's remarks as recognition of Hamas's major role in the region.

He attributed the "change" in Blair's rhetoric to the "steadfastness of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in the face of the Israeli aggression and Israel's war crimes there."

From Blair's statements, he said, one can see that he was admitting that Hamas plays a central role in the conflict and in peace.

"This recognition could be the first step toward removing Hamas from the list of terror organizations," Abu Rizkeh said.

The Hamas official pointed out that Blair was no longer talking about the Quartet's three conditions for talking to Hamas - recognition of Israel's right to exist, accepting all agreements that were previously signed between the PLO and Israel, and renouncing violence.

"Blair is no longer talking about the Quartet conditions," he added. "Rather, he's talking about appropriate conditions. We hope that the change in rhetoric reflects a change of policy."

Abu Rizkeh lashed out at Blair for failing to "condemn Israel's atrocities" and for not visiting the Gaza Strip to inspect the losses the Palestinians incurred during the war. [Remember what happened the last time Tony was supposed to visit the Gaza Strip? Maybe that has something to do with it. CiJ].

Another Hamas representative in the Gaza Strip claimed that some European countries have already sent "indirect messages" to his movement expressing their desire to talk. [You mean Fwance? CiJ]

He refused to mention which countries had approached Hamas. But he added that "following the war, a number of European governments have realized that it's impossible to get rid of Hamas and that we are a major player in the Middle East."

But in spite of the cautious optimism voiced by some Hamas officials, others scoffed at Blair's remarks, stressing that their movement would never join the peace process.

"Blair's statements are foolish and worthless," said Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas legislator and spokesman in the Gaza Strip. "He's simply repeating the same conditions that the West used to justify their refusal to recognize the democratically-elected government [after the January 2006 parliamentary election]."

Masri said that Hamas today "represents a strong military, political and popular equation that can't be ignored."

He added that it was "imprudent" of Blair to ask Hamas to recognize Israel and "relinquish the armed resistance."

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip said that the contradictory statements issued by Hamas reflect the divisions that have emerged among the top brass of the movement in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead.

"Today we are hearing conflicting statements from Hamas," noted a veteran journalist in Gaza City. "It's obvious that there are serious divisions inside Hamas regarding the future strategy. Hamas is in a deep crisis."

Others said that the rift between the Hamas leaderships in the Gaza Strip and Syria had grown in the past few weeks.

"The Hamas leaders seem to be very angry with [Damascus-based Hamas leader] Khaled Mashaal for acting independently and without coordinating [his] moves and statements with the leaders in the Gaza Strip," said an independent Palestinian political analyst in Gaza City.

"The local leaders believe that while they paid a heavy price, the leaders in Damascus were staying in five-star hotels in Arab capitals."

He said that while the Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip favored a new cease-fire with Israel, Mashaal and his friends were not eager to reach such a deal before achieving political gains.
They're not quite sure to do with what they have been handed, but this much is clear: Hamas believes Tony Blair has stepped over the line and waived the quartet's three conditions. And they may be correct.

On the other hand, Blair doesn't have the authority to waive those conditions himself. But that won't matter: Obama, Clinton and Mitchell will waive them anyway.


At 6:46 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Well... if the Quartet decides to ignore its own conditions, then Israel is free to disregard undertakings given in the Roadmap and at Annapolis. Peace is supposed to be a two-way street. If those conditions are going to waived, then the original assumptions undergirding the "peace process" no longer apply and the Quartet is no longer an honest broker Israel can trust. Words do matter.


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