Tony Blair Attempts to Reason with Hamas Over Abduction
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Quartet representative and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair Tuesday, after which both issued a joint statement condemning Hamas's abduction of three yeshiva students.
"I think the brutal abduction of three Israeli teenagers shows the true face of Hamas," Netanyahu began. "It's not only committed to murdering Israelis, it's committed to kidnapping children."
"I think the international community has to condemn Hamas for its terrorist activities, I think it has to support Israel's right of self-defense, and I also think it must call on President Abbas to end its pact with Hamas," he continued. "Anybody who supports peace must tell the Palestinian Authority that they cannot build a government that is backed by the kidnappers of children and the murderers of innocents."
Blair seemed to miss the mark completely, however - condemning the kidnappings, but also calling on Hamas to simply make a total about-face on its identity as a terrorist group instead of a political party.
"I'd like to express my outrage at what has happened - the kidnap of three young people - and to express my sympathy to the families at this moment," Blair said, "as well as the complete condemnation of the international community toward this abduction."
"The only way we're ever going to achieve peace is on the basis that all parts of Palestinian politics are committed to peaceful means," he said, including a two-state solution. "That means that for Hamas, they have a very clear choice to make - they cannot have political engagement on the one hand and violence on the other."
"The only way this is going to work is if all violence stops - the terrorism, the kidnappings, the killings," he added.
The European Union, the United States and the United Nations, have all indicated they were open to working with the new unity government despite the inclusion of Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization.
Blair's remarks surface hours after Hamas reportedly released another statement on the kidnappings, defiantly thumbing their nose at Israeli government efforts to crack down on the group - even after over 200 arrests.
"We've experienced attacks like this from Israel in the past, but we stood through them," the statement said. "The Hamas movement is not a movement of dozens, hundreds or thousands, but instead is a full stream. Arresting hundreds of our sons won't stop us, won't change our path and won't separate us from our obligations to our Palestinian people."