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News number: 8711121228

14:21 | 2009-01-31

World

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Blair Says Hamas Must Be in Peace Talks

TEHRAN (FNA)- Former British premier Tony Blair says in order to reach peace in the Middle East Hamas members should be included in any peace talks.



"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 is prepared to do it on the right terms," the Middle East envoy for the quartet of Mideast peace negotiators told The Times of London on Saturday.

In a U-turn in his policy regarding Hamas leaders, he said, "a basic predisposition is that in a situation like this you talk to everybody," The Times wrote on its website.

"Yes, we do need to show through the change we are making on the West Bank that the Palestinian state could be a reality. 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," he said.

Asked if he was surprised by the devastating events during the Israel war against Gaza, he said, "I have been saying for some time that what was needed was a completely different strategy."

However, according to the published interview, he still supports the West's long-standing position that Hamas must first recognize Israel's right to exist before Hamas can be given a seat at the negotiation table.

Following the shaky ceasefire after the war in Gaza, and while elements in the international community are attempting to file lawsuits against Israel for committing war crimes, efforts are under way to restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The US and the EU supports the Fatah administration of Mahmoud Abbas the West Bank, while democratically elected Hamas in the Gaza Strip, has been ignored in the Mideast peace process to date.