Blair: We warned Abbas of Jericho jail withdrawal

March 15, 2006 14:37


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British Prime Minister Tony Blair reiterated at prime minister's question time on Wednesday that he had warned Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for several months that if the Jericho jail procedures continue to be ignored and the monitors' safety put at risk, the British would terminate their supervision of the prison. "These monitors were unarmed civilians whose role was not to police or be prison wardens but to monitor that the correct procedures were being implemented," he stressed. The British PM also said that the UK had been very generous in its help to the Palestinians but security issues were of prime concern, especially following Hamas' election victory. "The main reason for our concern was Hamas' statement that it would release the prisoners," he explained. Blair restated that the only way to resuscitate the peace process was if it were preceded by recognition on both sides. "We totally respect Hamas' election victory but if they want our assistance they need to accept Israel's existence and abandon violence," he told the House of Commons.

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