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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ex-peace negotiators urge talk with Hamas

Thu, 26 Feb 2009 02:10:47 GMT    |   PressTV


A group of former peace negotiators has called in a public letter for the international community to start engaging directly with Hamas.


"As former peace negotiators, we believe it is of vital importance to abandon the failed policy of isolation and to involve Hamas in the political process," they wrote in a letter published in The Times on Wednesday.


Signatories included Michael Ancram, Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, Dr Shlomo Ben-Ami (Israel Foreign Minister, 2000-01), Betty Bigombe (former Uganda Government minister), Alvaro de Soto (UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Envoy to the Quartet, 2005-07), Gareth Evans (Australian Foreign Minister, 1988-96), Peter Gastrow (former Member of Parliament in South Africa), Erry Kelly (Sinn Fein member of the Northern Ireland Assembly), John Hume (Leader of the Social Democratic Liberal Party of Northern Ireland, 1979-2001) and Dr Ram Manikkalingam (Founder of the Dialogue Advisory Group).

They said peace between Israel and the Palestinians was not possible without Hamas, which controls Gaza and maintains support, "despite attempts to destroy it through economic blockades, political boycotts and military incursions."

"This approach is not working; a new strategy must be found," they said.

"We have learnt first-hand that there is no substitute for direct and sustained negotiations with all parties to a conflict, and rarely if ever a durable peace without them. Isolation only bolsters hardliners and their policies of intransigence. Engagement can strengthen pragmatic elements and their ability to strike the hard compromises needed for peace," the statement added. 


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