Blair praises Abbas's commitment to peace

Abbas tells British PM: I will handle negotiations with Israel, not PA gov't.

blair abbas buddies  (photo credit: AP)
blair abbas buddies
(photo credit: AP)
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas held talks in London on Wednesday afternoon. At a press conference after the meeting, Blair said the decision on whether to sign on to the Quartet's three principles, recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and accepting previous agreements, was for Hamas to make. Abbas said it was agreed at the Mecca talks that the PLO, which he chairs, will lead the negotiations with Israel, and not the proposed Fatah-Hamas government. The PLO will send any agreement we reach "directly to a referendum or to the Palestinian National Council," he said. Blair said, "We agreed once again that the key is to move the Middle East peace process forward again based around the two-state solution, a State of Israel confident of its security and an independent and sovereign and viable state of Palestine. "There is no doubt that the president [Abbas] is sincerely committed to peace. He wants to do the very best for the Palestinian people, he knows that they are suffering from the absence of peace. "He knows of their aspirations for their own state and I assured him of our strong support for the efforts he is making to bring about the possibly of such a lasting peace," Blair said. He said he wasn't optimistic about Syria playing a more constructive role in the region, although there were signs" that Syria might be able to play such a role. Regarding the proposed Hamas-Fatah coalition government, Blair said, "I support the idea of a national unity government, the question is what is the basis of that government and if it is to be a government that takes forward a solution to the Middle East, then it has to be based on the two-state solution, and it is hard to see how you can have this unless people accept the right of each state to exist. Abbas said, "We are committed to the vision of a two-state solution, we are committed to reject violence and also committed to international law and all agreement that have been reached between us and Israel and world community, in addition to the Arab initiative which has been agreed by the Arab and Muslim world. "With this policy we will go ahead and hope that the government of national unity will be formed soon and that we will move in this direction hoping the international community will stand by us and continue supporting us in order to rebuild our institutions and to achieve a Palestinian state."