Israel will not be able to destroy Hamas as a political movement, Tony Blair told Ynet in an exclusive interview Thursday, saying that desire for such a move must come from the Palestinian people themselves.
"There won't be a destruction of Hamas ... you won't destroy Hamas as a political entity," he said. "...what I do know is that will only happen if it happens within the context of a way forward, particularly for the people of Gaza, that gives them some hope for the future, because in the end a political movement like that has support on the ground, and you need to shift ... take away that support."
|EXCLUSIVE: Tony Blair talks to Ynet|
The former prime minister who is now the representative of the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers also expressed his concern over the current round of fighting between Israel and Hamas and other militant organizations in Gaza.
"I can't remember being more anxious about the situation," he said.
"There's a short term issue and a longer term issue," Balir said. "The short term is is obviously how we change the existing situation with the rockets coming out of Gaza and then the retaliation going into Gaza, and then in the longer term we've got to look at the underlying problems here."
Blair defended the European policy of modifying its criticism of the rocket fire that has sent millions of Israelis scrambling to bomb shelters in recent days.
"It's important to understand the pressures they come under as well, within their own politics," Blair said. "Because obviously the Palestinian side will be pointing to what happens in Gaza, which is inevitable in these situations when you get the retaliation. You get innocent civilians that lose their lives.
"And you have the Iron Dome which is a huge protection for you. You've also got a situation - I often say this to Europeans - because Israel has in place within schools for example very quick systems of evacuating people, getting them into shelters fast - you will minimize your casualties that way. But if you weren't taking those avoiding actions, or you didn’t have the Iron Dome in place of course you would be suffering major casualties."
Regarding the European involvement in peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians, Blair said that the EU did have a major role to play, but "you can only do that if you have the trust of both sides. And that's difficult."