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Thursday, February 26, 2009

'Hamas should be engaged in talks'

Thu, 26 Feb 2009 10:33:29 GMT | PressTV

Head of the Middle East
Quartet Tony Blair
Senior elites, former foreign ministers and negotiators have called on the Middle East Quartet to include Hamas in the region's peace process

In an open letter which is to be published exclusively by SPIEGEL ONLINE in Germany and the Times of London on Thursday, the fourteen signatories of the letter said that the United States and Israel must change their policy towards Hamas and engage the Palestinian movement if progress is to be made on peace in the Middle East.

The signatories include former Israeli Foreign Minister Ben-Ami and the UN's former envoy to the Middle East Quartet, Alvaro de Soto, have stated that a peace settlement "without Hamas will not be possible."

The group said that the three-year policy under which Hamas has been ostracized by the international community had backfired and needed to be changed.

"There can be no meaningful peace process that involves negotiating with the representatives of one part of the Palestinians while simultaneously trying to destroy the other", wrote the signatories.

The letter comes ahead of a visit to the region by George Mitchell, the newly appointed US envoy to the Middle East, and Javier Solana, the European Union's envoy.

On Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that talking to Hamas was the "right thing to do".

The democratically-elected Hamas government, sacked by Acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas, has been excluded from the US-mediated peace talks between Palestinians and Israel.

Hamas says excluding the legal government, elected by a majority of votes, from the peace process does not create a positive atmosphere to achieve success in the talks.

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