Blair: Attack set back Middle East peace process

Hamas must recognize that attacks like the one that killed nine civilians in Tel Aviv set back the Middle East peace process and damaged Palestinians' hope for an independent state, Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday. The Palestinians' new Hamas government refused to denounce the suicide bombing earlier this week by another militant group, Islamic Jihad. Blair said Hamas must recognize Israel and forego violence. "I hope very much that Hamas realizes that those who kill innocent people in this way, by this type of attack that happened in Tel Aviv, are wicked and irresponsible, but more than that that they do absolutely nothing to further the process of peace in the Middle East or the two-state solution that we all want to see," Blair said in his weekly House of Commons question session. Blair said the international community "stands ready and willing to take forward a negotiated solution on the basis of a fair deal that allows for an independent, viable Palestinian state provided that Hamas in turn are prepared to recognize the state of Israel and to give up violence that does nothing to make this process work and does everything to harm it," he said.