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JERUSALEM – According to a top official from Hamas speaking to WND, the terrorist organization has been in direct contact for months with Tony Blair, the former British prime minister and Mideast envoy for the international Quartet, which includes the U.S. among its ranks.
“Yes, we have been talking with Blair for at least five months,” said Ahmed Yousef, Hamas’ chief political adviser in the Gaza Strip.
In comments published yesterday, Blair said Hamas should be part of the Mideast peace process in what was reported as a “departure” from his previous policy.
In December, Yousef first revealed – in an exclusive WND interview – Hamas held talks talks with Blair, who serves as the main envoy for the “Quartet” of Russia, the U.S., the EU and the U.N. In the same interview, Yousef claimed his group held talks with U.S. officials, including members of both Democrat and Republican Parties. Yousef made similar remarks in a second interview with WND aired on the national John Batchelor radio show.
He said at the time he was not encouraged the Bush administration would engage with Hamas, but said he believed the incoming administration of Barack Obama, now president, would favor dialogue. Indeed, he claimed a few weeks prior that Hamas held a meeting in the Gaza Strip with aides to Obama, but said his group was asked to keep the contacts secret until after last November’s elections.
In an interview with the Times of London published on the paper’s website yesterday, Blair stated, “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.”
Blair explained Hamas would need to renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist. Still, he relented, his “basic predisposition is that in a situation like this you talk to everybody.”
He said the current purported strategy of “pushing Gaza aside” and trying to create a Palestinian state on the Fatah-dominated West Bank “was never going to work and will never work.” Fatah is the organization of Mahmoud Abbas, the U.S.-backed president of the Palestinian Authority.
“Yes, we do need to show through the change we are making on the West Bank that the Palestinian state could be a reality,” continued Blair.
“The trouble is that if you simply try to push Gaza to one side then eventually what happens is the situation becomes so serious that it erupts and you deliver into the hands of the mass the power to erupt at any point in time.”