Sunday, July 29, 2007

Blair 'will fail unless he talks to Hamas'

The following article is actually something I will be referencing in a piece I am working on regarding the importance of the Turkish election victory of the "Islamist leaning" AKP. RUN WHITE FOLKS RUN, the ISLAMISTS are on the way- just kidding. Seriously it's nothing like that. We like democracy too. No seriously, I love living in America, and I love the freedoms we have. Why don't you believe me, okay, no you do not have to be skeptical, you will like what I have to say. Please do not judge me because I am a Muslim, brown and, okay, its true I am naturalized, not a born American.

By Tim Shipman in Washington, Sunday Telegraph

Last Updated: 11:56pm BST 21/07/2007

Tony Blair's effort to revive the Middle East peace process will be doomed unless the West begins talking to the militant group Hamas, according to the man expected to advise the former prime minister.

Daniel Levy: Blair 'will fail unless he talks to Hamas'
Daniel Levy thinks Hamas could find a way of accepting the reality of Israel

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Daniel Levy warned that al-Qaeda could win new supporters among disaffected Palestinians unless Hamas - regarded by Israel, America and other western countries as a terrorist group - is allowed "inside the tent".

Mr Levy, 39, a former Israeli peace negotiator and the son of Mr Blair's former Middle East envoy, Lord Levy, said the West's effort to bolster the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, could not work if it ignored Hamas's control of Gaza, part of the Palestinian territory.

He claimed that Mr Blair's record in Northern Ireland meant he understood the need to talk to extremists.

"For any process to have sustainability, legitimacy, and to guarantee security, it will have to be inclusive, not divisive, and to bring in Hamas over time," he said. "Mr Blair, with his Northern Ireland experience, may understand this better than most."

This week Mr Blair will make his first trip to the region since he was appointed envoy by the Quartet of powers - America, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia - who are overseeing the peace process.

Announcing plans for a new Middle East peace summit, President Bush last week called on Hamas to renounce violence and recognise Israel, and repeated his refusal to deal with it until it did so.

But Mr Levy, director of the Prospects for Peace Initiative at The Century Foundation, a Washington think-tank, said Mr Bush's stance was "bound not to produce results". Instead, he said, America must "try and construct a process where Hamas are inside the tent".

He said the decision to shun the group was a "misguided" gift to al-Qaeda recruiters. "Al-Qaeda accused Hamas of selling out when they decided to run for election," he said.

"The al-Qaeda position is that this electoral process is a western colonial implant, an abomination to Islam. Hamas goes in, wins and sees this boycott slapped on it. Al-Qaeda said, 'See, you played by their rules and you paid the price.' "

Mr Levy said America would be better off emulating its policy in Iraq, where its soldiers are working against al-Qaeda with Sunni insurgents "who were shooting Americans two months ago".

Calling Hamas a potential "bulwark against al-Qaeda", he said he thought Hamas could find a way of accepting the reality of Israel. "We don't need them to be Zionists," he said.

Mr Levy spoke out amid growing doubts about Mr Blair's mandate. Last week Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, said that America alone would lead on the "political track", leaving Mr Blair to focus on building up the Palestinian economy and institutions.

Mr Levy made clear that as yet he has "had no conversation" with Mr Blair since he left Downing Street, and would not act as a formal adviser. But a spokesman for Mr Blair said that he did expect to talk to Mr Levy about the Middle East in the future.

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