Reports suggest that Tony Blair is acting as a go-between in secret talks aimed at lifting the Israeli siege of Gaza.
According to accounts from Al-Hayat, the Arabic-language daily, since resigning as the Quartet’s Middle East envoy, renowned war criminal Blair has held two meetings with the Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. Hamas has been in control of the Gaza strip since 2007.
According to RT: One Israeli newspaper also reported that Blair had previously discussed his plans with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Meetings have reportedly taken place in Qatar, and have centered around the possibility of a temporary ceasefire, which would lift the siege on Gaza.
Al-Hayat also reported Israel would allow a naval corridor to operate between Cyprus and Gaza. In return Hamas would agree to a 10-year ceasefire.
However, as speculation in the Arabic media grew, on Monday Israel’s Netanyahu denied that he had authorised secret talks and said Israel was not in contact with Hamas either directly or through third parties.
“Israel is officially clarifying that it is not holding any meetings with Hamas, neither directly, nor via other countries or intermediaries,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.
The Fatah controlled Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, on the other hand, claimed its own peace talks had been underway and accused Hamas of trying to break up the Palestinian territories.
“There have been negotiations and they are on the verge of reaching an agreement about a truce of eight to 10 years,” Riad al-Malki, Palestinian foreign minister, told France 24.
The agreement would see the end of Israel’s siege of Gaza and “allow maritime passage” to nearby Cyprus, Malki said.
“We don’t know if it will happen tomorrow or in a month,” he said. “There are mediators who are doing their utmost to reach this agreement.”
Fatah said Blair was acting as a go-between in the talks.
“The Hamas-Blair agreement … paves the way for division and the isolation of the Gaza Strip,” said spokesman Ahmed Assaf.
He said this would continue to help “Israel to achieve its goal of preventing the creation of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.”
A senior adviser to the Turkish prime minister appeared to confirm the links between Hamas and Blair in comments made this week.
There have been rumours of secret talks before, but any such negotiations have had limited effect.
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