World, Middle East

Tony Blair held talks with Hamas one month ago: Source

Ex-‘quartet’ envoy discussed Gaza blockade with Palestinian resistance group, source tells Anadolu Agency

Mohamed Sabry Emam Muhammed  | 11.07.2016 - Update : 12.07.2016
Tony Blair held talks with Hamas one month ago: Source Tony Blair


By Alaa Rimawi


Former "quartet" envoy and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair held talks with Hamas one month ago regarding the situation in the blockaded Gaza Strip, a source close to the Palestinian resistance group told Anadolu Agency on Monday.

"Blair spoke with Hamas about the possibility of reaching a formula on Gaza," the source, who spoke anonymously due to restrictions on talking to media, said.

Blair served as envoy of the so-called Middle East Quartet -- comprised of the U.S., the EU, the UN and Russia -- until last year.

According to the source, Blair had proposed a meeting in Europe with Hamas officials with a view to discussing the situation in Gaza.

The recent contacts, the source said, were a continuation of last year’s talks between Blair and Hamas aimed at ending the decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip in return for consolidating a ceasefire deal between the Palestinian group and Israel.

In late 2014, Palestinian resistance factions signed a ceasefire deal with Israel that ended the latter’s 51-day military offensive against the Gaza Strip -- an onslaught in which more than 2,300 Palestinians were killed.

The deal also called for the resumption of indirect talks between the Palestinians and Israel to begin one month after the ceasefire came into effect.

The talks, however, never materialized.

Blair’s ongoing contacts with Hamas, the source said, were aimed at preventing a further deterioration of Gaza’s already-dire humanitarian situation.

According to the source, other European parties are also currently in contact with Hamas.

"Meetings [with Hamas] are being held regularly in certain western countries," the source asserted.

On Sunday, Blair visited Egyptian capital of Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials before setting out for Israel.

The source close to Hamas stressed that the group was opposed to reaching any "secret" agreements.

"Hamas rejects any attempt to divide the Palestinian people," the source said, going on to warn of the consequences of maintaining the longstanding Israeli/Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip.

"The ongoing siege is one of the primary factors that could cause the situation in the region to explode," he said.

Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has groaned under a joint Israeli/Egyptian blockade that has deprived the enclave’s roughly 1.9 million inhabitants of their most basic needs, including food, fuel, medicine and building materials.

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