Blair: 'Israeli ceasefire achievable'

Tuesday, January 6 01:47 pm


Shutting down smuggling (contrebande) routes which supply arms and money to Hamas is the only way of halting the attacks on Gaza, Tony Blair has said. Skip related content

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Blair: 'Israeli ceasefire achievable'

Mr Blair, the envoy of the Middle East Quartet of the UN, US, EU and Russia, which is sponsoring Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, said a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip could only be attainable this way.

In Jerusalem, the former British prime minister said: "What is being talked about is a credible plan to stop the smuggling."

Mr Blair said he hoped the plan could be completed quickly and that enhanced Israeli security would lead to "a significant advance in opening up Gaza to the outside world".

Israel continues to ignore mounting international pressure for a ceasefire in the 11-day-old assault, which has claimed (revendiquée?) more than 700 Palestinian lives, including 130 militants.

Mr Blair said he had made representations (représentations) to the Israeli authorities about access for humanitarian supplies to Gaza.

He said: "For anyone living in Gaza, it is hell, it is bound to be (c'est lié?). You are in a situation where you are in an effective war zone. It is not a very large piece of territory. It is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

"Hamas positions are well dug in actually inside (understood the meaning but not the grammar) the civilian population, so the notion that having a war going on around Gaza is going to be anything other than a humanitarian catastrophe is absurd, obviously."

Mr Blair said the Hamas movement, which holds power in the enclave, is in contact with Egypt over the issue (sur la question) and that Cairo is prepared in principle to take action.

He said that while he and other international representatives refuse to speak to Hamas, the movement's leadership in Gaza is well aware of the position from their own discussions with Egypt.

Mr Blair urged incoming US President Barack Obama to engage with the Middle East peace process as soon as he is inaugurated on January 20.

Next week, Mr Blair will receive the Congressional Gold Medal from US President George W Bush, which he was awarded in July 2003, shortly after the invasion of Iraq.

The Gold Medal is America's highest civilian award alongside the (au même niveau que?) Presidential Medal of Freedom. It must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the US Congress and was originally awarded to soldiers for achievement in battle, but became a civilian award with the introduction of the Medal of Honour.

Previous recipients include Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Pope John Paul II and the Dalai Lama.