Gaza blockade 'counterproductive': Blair

4th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair described Israel's blockade of Gaza as "counterproductive" in an interview published Friday, in the wake of a flotilla attack which killed nine.

Blair said he had been telling Israeli leaders "that because Hamas will get whatever they want through the tunnels, actually this is a counterproductive policy. You stop the legitimate goods coming in legitimately."

The former British prime minister also warned, in comments to the Independent, against a possible situation where people in Gaza end up "losing hope for the future, alienating young people we don't need to alienate".

He called for a strategy in Gaza which "isolates the extremists and helps the people and not one that operates the other way round".

The comments are Blair's strongest yet against the blockade since Israeli commandos attacked a fleet of Gaza-bound aid ships in international waters Monday, sparking international outrage.

US President Barack Obama said Thursday that the "tragedy" showed that the Middle East "status quo is unsustainable," and that "piecemeal" attempts to make peace would not work.

Blair is the representative of the quartet -- the United Nations, the US, the European Union and Russia -- and is working to try and bring peace to the Middle East.

© 2010 AFP

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