Blair is a mediator between Hamas and Israel
Published 20/08/2015 | 02:30
Tony Blair has become a go-between in talks with Hamas aimed at securing a peace deal for Israel, it has been reported.
The former British prime minister was banned from meeting Hamas officials in his role as head of the Quartet group of Israeli-Palestinian mediators.
However, he resigned in May and has since reportedly held two meetings with the Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, in Doha, Qatar.
The talks are apparently aimed at securing a deal that would guarantee Israel an eight or 10-year truce in exchange for the lifting of the Gaza Strip blockade that has been in place since 2007.
Israel has denied being engaged in any talks with Hamas.
"Israel is officially clarifying that it is not holding any meetings with Hamas, neither directly nor via other countries or intermediaries," the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
However, Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, reported that Mr Blair held talks with Mr Netanyahu before his first visit to Doha to meet Mr Meshaal.
The Palestinian Authority also insisted that talks were under way and accused Hamas of effectively endorsing the separation of Palestinian territories.
"There have been negotiations and they are on the verge of reaching an agreement about a truce of eight to 10 years," said Riad al-Malki, the Palestinian foreign minister.
The agreement would see Israel lift its blockade of Gaza and "allow maritime passage" to nearby Cyprus, Mr Malki told France 24 television.
"We don't know if it will happen tomorrow or in a month," he said, adding: "There are mediators who are doing their utmost to reach this agreement."
Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf said: "The Hamas-Blair agreement paves the way for division and the isolation of the Gaza Strip."
This, he added, would help "Israel to achieve its goal of preventing the creation of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders".